Did you find that there were universal characteristics that make a relationship successful across all groups, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, money, etc?
Absolutely. This was actually one of the most surprising things I learned on the journey.
The happiest couples always consisted of two (sometimes more) emotionally healthy and independently happy individuals. These people practiced self-love. They treated themselves with the same type of care that they treated their partner… or at least they tried to.
Emotionally healthy people know how to forgive, they are able to acknowledge their part in any disagreement or conflict and take responsibility for it. They are self-aware enough to be assertive, to pull their weight, and to give love when it’s most difficult.
After that emotional health came an unquestioning level of commitment. The happiest couples knew that if shit got real, their significant other wasn’t going to walk out on them. They knew that even if things got hard - no, especially if things got hard - they were better off together. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
Happy couples trust each other… and they have earned each others’ trust. They don’t worry about the other person trying to undermine them or sabotage them, because they’ve proven over and over again that they are each other’s biggest advocate. That trust is built through actions, not words. It’s day after day after day of fidelity, service, emotional security, reliability.
Establish that foundation, and you’re in good shape.
This is the icing on the cake. There’s a difference between the couple who drives through the rainstorm and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain. (Yes, that’s a true story.) There’s a difference between the couple who kisses for 10 seconds or longer when they say goodbye to each other rather than just giving each other a peck… or nothing at all. There’s a difference between the couples who encourage each other to pursue their personal goals at the expense of their own discomfort or inconvenience… even if it means their partner has to stage kiss another woman.
The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered my perception of what was possible in a loving relationship.
Self-understanding is the first step to having a good relationship.
“The foundation of our course is based on correcting a misconception: that to make a marriage work, you have to find the right person. The fact is, you have to be the right person,” Solomon declares. “Our message is countercultural: Our focus is on whether you are the right person. Given that we’re dealing with 19-, 20-, 21-year olds, we think the best thing to do at this stage in the game, rather than look for the right partner, is do the work they need to understand who they are, where they are, where they came from, so they can then invite in a compatible suitable partner.””
how to love my anxiety
whoever you are
you should know
i’m afraid of the gap between your face and mine.
only because you might expect me to fill it.
small talk feels so precious and volatile
not unlike you and me.
you should know
i’m afraid of butterflies
and library books
and birthday girls
of everything that might have its wings
shorn off in an instant.
when i was five
my dad set all the clocks in our house
randomly forwards and back
(‘it’ll sharpen your math’ he said).
to this day i can look at any clock
even the digital ones
and see a circle
with no hands.
sometimes i can’t tell the difference
between sudden death and living
between slicing off fingernails and arms
between the end of the world and losing my keys
between nighttime and the sun’s last flare
between standing side by side with you
and mourning all the ways we are falling apart.
sometimes i look at everyone’s faces
and see clocks with no hands
a set of instructions
with no numbers
yelling in another language.
is just code for
my heart skipped some beats
and i’m trying to find them.
i don’t understand math
that only moves in one direction,
that divides big and small,
long hands and short.
when i was eight
i was ready
to throw down religion
and give it over to string theory
to the wide-open sameness
of chaos and symphony.
every boson has a fermion to sing with
about how the universe began
about how we fall in love
and how i ate a bowl of cereal
and how you said the word no
and how i held my tongue
until it stopped shaking
how a stomata winks
Christ’s hands bleed open on the cross
how a galaxy explodes
what i mean is
i’m sorry i keep frowning
i’m sorry i stood in a corner at your birthday
i’m sorry there is a polar vortex
where my face should be
i’m sorry i don’t look you in the eyes
i’m sorry i keep my words spare
i’m working on it
i’m sorry i’m terrified
something not everyone knows
how to love.
you should know you are beautiful