With all the pink and red valentine hearts swirling in store displays, and with me missing my guy because he's traveling this week, I have a bit of a head-in-the-clouds kind of feeling.
As I woke this morning, Valentine's Day and love on my mind, the house felt extra quiet and I could feel the cold seeping under my layers of blankets. Not yet ready to step into my day of solitude, a memory shook loose as I drowsed.
I had an aisle seat on the plane coming back from the Dominican Republic a couple of weeks ago. My guy, Joe, was sitting adjacent to me. He was across the aisle - close enough to talk, but not close enough to touch.
Joe was lost in one of my favorite Richard Russo novels (Straight Man - read it if you need a laugh and/or are having a mid-life crisis). He doesn't often have time to read so the sight of him with his head tipped, smiling now and then at Russo's droll words warmed me. Plus his skin was tanned an incredible color, and his hair and beard appeared lighter after several days in the sun. The sleeves of his blue and white shirt against his forearms made me feel swoony.
We've been together going on 10 years, and yet my stomach flipped over just thinking about him and our time together.
On this trip, my guy and I had spent our 10 days almost exclusively alone, excepting the odd conversation with other guests at the bar or talking to resort staff. We didn't seek out the company of new friends on this vacation. Mostly we lay by the pool reading, dozing, sipping cocktails, eating fruit - doing a lot of nothing that produced a feeling of such complete relaxation it bordered on comatose.
One day we talked the entire day. Joe indulged me with coach-y talk, and we made our way through a question after question, and did some goal-setting for our year. Another day we barely spoke, Joe disappearing into a book, and me into music. We lay next to one another, taking turns applying sunscreen and passing Diet Pepsi's back and forth.
In the late afternoons we'd shake off the sun's slumbering effect, and head down for a walk on the beach. Holding hands, we'd have lazy conversation - or not - as the sun lowered in the sky. After, we'd make our way to our room to get ready for drinks and dinner. We never argued or got cross with one another. We stepped out of the doing-ness of our lives and settled into the being-ness. We were both grateful for the time away together. For a bit, it felt as if time had stopped. It's the stuff one dreams about on blizzard-y Michigan days.
The reason I'm telling you this is because it's remarkable to me that after 10 years together, I'm still so enchanted by and in love with my guy. Our relationship has expanded and deepened throughout the years, thanks to a lot of love, effort, and a willingness to do the work.
Both of us believe in therapy, and began attending individually just before we married almost three years ago. We've also been known to attend therapy together when we bump up against something we can't solve on our own. But since discovering life coaching, I've relied on that to do my work around issues that come up for me, and subsequently affect my and Joe's relationship. Joe has come along for the ride.
Here's the most profound thing I've learned since walking down this road of personal growth: Whatever it is you're arguing about with your partner, it's not about that.
If you find yourself heated and angry over money or the dishes or parenting - and if you want to blame your significant other - life coaching has taught me that you're likely triggered by something else that you haven't even clued into, yet.
You could be triggered by something that happened in your childhood that was painful or traumatic, and you've not processed it. Maybe you're stepping over your own boundaries, or have undelivered communications, or are out of integrity with something or someone in your life.
Trust me when I say that you can't even begin to approach having something resembling a healthy relationship with someone else if you don't have a healthy relationship with yourself.
My husband and I aren't perfect, neither individually nor as a couple. But perfection isn't something we strive for. For us, wholeness is where it's at. And that's one of the foundational principals life coaching is predicated on.
If you want a functional, healthy relationship with the person of your dreams, there's always work to do...on yourself. There's no end point, because as you grow and peel back the layers of who you are, something new will always be there. And isn't that exciting? I completely believe that truly getting to know yourself is exciting, and transformative. Learning to accept and love pieces of yourself you've rejected for the whole of your life transforms not just you, but also your relationships.
Yes, it's hard work. Scary, too. But what's the alternative? Continuing to hate yourself? Being plagued by the same life issues for evermore? Continuing to live a life that doesn't fill you up? Staying stuck in relationships that no longer work and don't bring you happiness?
So I ask you, what do you really want when it comes to your relationship with yourself and those you love?
Even if you don't have an answer to that quite yet, let's talk about it. You know how to reach me.