“Lighthouses don’t go running all over the island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining” – Anne Lamott.
The beautiful thing about having both a 9-year-old boy and a baby girl under 12 months in the house is on the one end, I get the inquisitive, cute, still innocent questions from my son and on the other end, I get the “I’m-processing-all-this-newness” stares from my baby girl. Through all the adventure and growth that comes from raising two kids and balancing life, work, and everything in between – the constant – my constant – is my husband. School schedules, work, and season after season aside, I’ve come to develop a habit of looking for this sign that lets me knowno matter what level of shenanigans is going on, we as a couple, are not stranded. No matter what, my husband and I are a strong, loving and supporting couple. Figuratively speaking, as I look for this sign, my focus narrows on this image of a lighthouse which to me, represents our marriage. This lighthouse embodies my relationship with my husband. It lets me know even though we have many moving pieces gravitating around us – our marriage stands strong.
So what keeps our lighthouse beaming? After all the adventures, tests, and lessons our journey has brought to us, I feel confident in saying it goes beyond the scheduled fun date night here and there. What is, the foundation of my relationship with my partner? When it comes to us, our conscious agreements is what makes us a strong couple.
1. THE AGREEMENT TO BELONG
There is nothing more sweet and spicy than the feeling of knowingyou are done “looking” because your partner is 100% yours in mind, body and spirit and you are 100% his or hers. There is no complication required here – we belong to each other - period. When you said “yes”, however long ago it was, does not imply that you signed up to belong to each other. You do have to explicitly demonstrate to your partner, and to the rest of the world, that no one and nothing holds or will ever hold your attention, your love or your commitment in the same way your partner does. You wouldn’t let someone else come to your house and touch your belongings, play with them, much less take what’s yours away from you, would you? This isn’t a logical agreement but a primal one. When things get tough, or less than peachy, you will fight for what belongs to you. When you and your partner truly, loudly, viscerally, passionately belong to each other, no one and nothing will ever come between you two.
2. THE AGREEMENT TO STAY IN LOVE
This may seem like a no-brainer, but think about how many times you’ve made a commitment – whether it was a purchase or service you signed up for where you knew of this safety net called a return policy. If you were not satisfied with what you received, you could back out, cancel, or return the purchase. This safety net has invariably bled into relationships. I have even heard a client say, if their upcoming marriage was not what they had in mind, that divorce is always an option. Strong couples don’t count on a “way out” in order to commit. By all means, if you’ve given your relationship your all and regardless of all your efforts you simply were not respected and loved back, then yes you have a right to get yourself out of the relationship. This agreement however refers to choosing to stay in love with your partner. This choice comes with action: when you truly agree to stay in love with your partner, you agree to purposely create the conditions to nurture your love. Create the opportunity to stay in love. It takes two to fall in love but it only takes one to fall out of love. So, before you head for the exit door – breathe, talk, and remember to choose to stay in love. Strong couples fall in love with each other continuously and it is up to both of you to stay in love, should you really be in love to begin.
3. THE AGREEMENT TO BE COMPASSIONATE TO YOUR PARTNER’S NEEDS
Love and compassion are not the same and they’re not interchangeable concepts either. There will be times when your life partner will need your compassion; plain and simple. You will be willing to give compassion to your partner because you love them and you would do anything for them. Compassion looks like your partner openly understanding your pain and your fear without questions, even if they might desperately want you to be OK, or even if they are hurt or displeased with your behavior because you’re going through some tough times. Strong couples cannot both be strong all the time; sometimes it’s a tag-team effort. When your partner needs you to be the strong one, for the both of you, compassion will get you there. There will be times when your partner might need you to look at a situation through their lenses. It will feel very foreign to you because they’re not your lenses and you’re not wired this way. You are not being asked to approve, bless, or concur; you are being asked to simply be a companion through a situation which is important to your partner. Much like observing a sunset without criticizing its duration or hues, compassion asks you simply be present without judgment.
4. THE AGREEMENT TO BECOME HAPPINESS
I remember growing up and becoming aware of times when my parents were happy and times when they were not necessarily happy; much less, happy together. Thinking happiness comes with the relationship of your life, having a baby, or when someone else takes care of you is the perfect stereotype that will put loads of pressure on your marriage’s shoulders. Know this – from someone who has witnessed and experienced both unhappiness and happiness: your marriage is made of two unique individuals and you are part of the equation. Your part and your partner’s part, is not to find but to become happiness. If you “find” happiness or place happiness in objects, events, or people, then by logic if those are removed then you can as easily lose your happiness. However, when you become happiness, you are your own source of joy, to tap into at will – who can take that away from you? No one, but you. You owe it to your soul, your partner, and your present or future children, to become happiness. When you do – life becomes a joyful choice you make every day instead of a routine. Your partner and your children are watching even if you think they’re not. They might not call you out on looking sad or worried, but children especially, are taking conscious and subconscious notes of what a happy, balanced, loving partnership should look like. Strong couples inspire their children and everyone else around them, to go out in the world and become happiness themselves. I’m only 40 now, but I can only imagine the uncontainable joy I will experience when I’m older, knowing my children have found loving, supporting, and balanced partners to continue their legacy.
Make the agreements necessary to love fearlessly and become a strong couple. Strong couples prevail, strong couples teach others how to love. They show the world what loving, balanced, and supportive relationships look like. Strong couples are the foundation of a better future that operates from love.
How can any or all of these agreements help you become a stronger couple? Is there an “agreement” you and your partner have come up with that has or is working on your relationship now? Feeling stuck or unsure as to how to incorporate these agreements into your relationship? If so, let’s talk! I’m here to help.