Passion is one of the most important factors in any relationship but I am not talking about what you take into the bedroom. I am talking about each person’s unique passion and the clarity of their mission in life.
I am not a relationship guru but in my experience, if you are looking for someone to complete you, prepare yourself for a huge disappointment. If everything in your life is connected to your partner and you do not have anything that inspires you outside of your relationship, you need to find your calling. Ignoring this primal urge to find something greater than yourself will negatively affect every relationship you have, including those with your partner, your children, your boss, your friends and especially with yourself.
I was talking to a client of mine this week about her marriage. She has been married for more than forty years and they have been teetering on the edge of miserable for over ten of them. As we looked into why the relationship was disintegrating, it seems that things began to change around the time she left her job and went to work with her husband. Without making this about the dynamics of couples working together, what it really came down to in this case is that her entire life became about him. His work, his dreams, his schedule, his needs. Once she left her job, she did not replace it with anything of her own. She did not find a hobby, pastime or interest but more importantly she has not found anything that propels her forward in her life that is not somehow connected to her relationship. Therefore all of the responsibility of her happiness and fulfillment has been placed in his hands.
Relationships are not fifty-fifty. For a relationship to be successful, it needs to be two whole people who have their own thoughts, ideas and dreams coming together because they admire, respect, love and enjoy spending time with each other. When you think about your best friend, you may have many similar interests, values and even corresponding viewpoints but you are not two halves of a whole. You are two distinctly different people who love talking, hanging out and can probably get into a pretty good debate about things without it endangering your friendship. Why do we expect couples to give up who they are to be a part of a relationship? People should not be losing themselves. The real motivation to entering into a life commitment is to have someone to share everything with who can also contribute their own personal gains and losses. It is about being on a journey together but not necessarily on the exact same path.
We have all been guilty of losing ourselves at one point or another, particularly in our youth or in new relationships. When I was single, I would always try to impress whomever I was dating by taking a keen interest in their pastimes. Figuring out what is important to the other person is valuable because their activities will inevitably be a part of your life together. For example, if your partner loves fishing and you cannot stand it, you need to allow them to have that time to pursue their passion. If you assume that eventually they will not have time and will stop their hobby, you are treading dangerous territory. This is something that fuels their soul. By not accepting a significant aspect of your partner’s life, how can you expect them to honour and cherish you or your needs?
In order to be in a happy and fulfilling relationship, both people must let the other person live their most authentic life. That means accepting that your partner’s calling may be something that does not involve you. Without having your own dreams to pursue your focus remains primarily on the relationship. This may cause you to feel like you are competing for their time and attention. You also run the risk of becoming angry or even jealous of those who may have that particular passion in common with them and this is where many problems arise.
Some people are very clear on what drives them everyday. Others either do not know or are uncertain about how to pursue their life’s purpose. It took me many years to figure out that there was nothing wrong with wanting to do things in my own way, differently from everyone else. I did not follow the criteria set by my community and I spent a few years floundering. There was a yearning in my heart that the more I ignored it the more depressed I became, because I was so far from who I wanted to be. Everyone close to me paid the price. My parents, my friends and my relationships. When I finally became clear on my mission in life and comfortable with who I was, I found a kindred spirit along the way and I was fortunate enough to recognize him as the love of my life. We have very different interests but we are each other’s biggest fans!
Being able to celebrate your successes and commiserate through your failures with someone who understands what it is like to have so much of yourself invested in something is one of the beautiful gifts a relationship can offer. The secret to a happy and healthy relationship is to honour yourself and pursue your passion. Happiness spills over into everything you do and to everyone in your life.