Honor your relationships by honoring yourself—a different approach to relationships that can make all the difference.
Relationships, like most things in life, are paradoxical. Healthy relationships require an artful swing between dependence and independence, togetherness and solitude. Even in the closest of connections, where mutual support should come with the territory, it’s essential to strike a balance between leaning on another and standing strong and tall on your own.
One of the most valuable pieces of advice I received as a newlywed years ago was from a friend who was also a psychologist. “If you ever notice yourself or your husband becoming snappy, edgy, or just plain grouchy, it doesn’t mean the relationship is in trouble,” she said. “Take it as a sign that you may simply need some healthy time apart.” Her words echoed these lines from one of my favorite writers, the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran: “Let there be spaces in your togetherness. . . . Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.”
The myth: Constant support, sacrifice, and togetherness create the best relationships.
The magic (the liberating truth and paradox): My relationships are stronger when I also pursue my own interests and nurture my individual strengths.
The real magic takes place when everyone in a relationship, including you, is free to realize his or her full potential—and when you give yourself permission to spend quiet, quality moments doing what energizes you. If an intimate relationship suddenly seems off balance or smothering, be sure you are giving yourself enough time and space to build your own strengths and pursue the desires of your own heart.
For Your Reflection:
>> Do you find yourself becoming easily irritated with your partner? You may become annoyed with those you love not because they are doing something outrageous but because you simply need some breathing space—some time to honor yourself. Having a close relationship doesn’t mean you should give up being yourself. No two people have all the same interests, and it’s not healthy to expect that to be the case.
>> Ask yourself: Are there spaces in your togetherness? Do you allow and encourage yourself and your partner to pursue your own individual interests?
>> Try taking some dedicated time for yourself and allow your partner to do the same. That act of open-hearted generosity will create more vibrancy when the two of you come together again, and you’ll have more to offer each other, and the world, as a result.
Adapted from my book Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving
For Part 2 of this article, click here.