People get into long-term relationships for all kinds of reasons. Some want stability and predictability. Some want to be wanted or needed. Some do it for the money. Some do it to have kids. Some are swept away by the fantasy of who they want their partner to be.
There’s nothing wrong with any particular reason for being in a relationship if both people are happy. Problem is, for most people, getting in a relationship for any of the above reasons doesn’t generally lead to happiness.
So, what’s the golden ticket?
Couples that have the most satisfying and energized relationships support each other’s growth AND commit to creating life together. It’s ironic and sad to witness individuals who actually stop growing as soon as their relationships begin. And, if you stop growing as an individual, there is no way your relationship can grow.
Relationships that don’t grow feel tired, old, and stagnant. Some folks settle for that and that’s ok. Others don’t. If you’re not into settling, read on.
Couples that are in vibrant relationships get curious when one of them is up to something new. Maybe it’s exploring a career change, a new interest in art, a pull towards spiritual growth, learning to race cars. Whatever IT is, couples in a healthy relationship cheer each other on, they get behind each other’s dreams.
Couples that give each other full permission to explore and live their individual passions, honor each other’s freedom. When we feel free as individuals in our relationships, we are much more likely to want to create life together with our partner. And, if we’re not creating life together, why be in a relationship? Creativity thrives in freedom. Creativity dies in the resentment and distrust that so often arises when we hold on too hard to our partners out of fear that we might lose them.
The key to this freedom and creativity stuff is responsibility. What does responsibility have to do with freedom????? Well, everything! Responsibility is our ability to respond. The more ability to respond we have, the more freedom.
In our current lives. where “Busy” ain’t going away, couples that want to have a dynamic, fulfilling relationship need to make a conscious choice to start creating one together. They need to choose to take responsibility for their relationships. No one else will.
Couples need to set aside time to create new ways forward together. They need to explore each other’s values and look to create experiences that they can enjoy together. They need to prioritize setting aside time to have fun, together! You see, joy and fun are essential pieces of the puzzle. Too often, joy and fun get left until the time we finish…….which, without taking responsibility, never arrives.
Take an honest look at your relationship. (Yup, that’s part of the responsibility thing.) Is your partner resisting your growth? Are you holding your partner back? What’s the motivation? Fear of loss. Fear that one or both of you may find something better “out there?” Invite your partner into a discussion where you ask each other these questions. Where might you each be willing to give each other more freedom to grow? Then ask, what is something new we want to create together in our life? It could be redesigning a room, planning a trip, cooking a meal together, joining a hiking group together, meditating together, reading to each other…..
The list is only limited by the freedom you are willing to bring to the conversation. Enjoy! And, let us know how this goes.
Howard Stanten MPT,CPCC is an Executive Leadership and Professional