All couples are able to have and are deserving of a joy-filled relationship. We saw a great example of this when we interviewed Jessica and Jeff Jennings on the Kickass Couples Podcast. They are both marriage therapists and counselors. They have private practices and they’ve come together to establish a new business called “Greatest Marriage Ever”. They are dedicated to helping couples turn their relationships into the best that they can be.
This couple individually found what their purpose and passion were before they found each other. They discovered their true identities on their own and then grew together. Jessica mentioned that when you are purposefully pursuing your own identity, it creates a certain attraction and magnetism to you from your partner. When you feel that with your spouse it really helps your relationship grow. She felt that bond was ever-deepening with Jeff while they were working on their purpose and their passion.
The Jennings touched on something important. Why is it important to have an identity and purpose that is your own versus a purpose for the relationship? Not that there aren’t goals for the relationship, but why is it important for an individual to really be locked in on what their purpose and passions are relative to the relationship?
When you really hone in on what your purpose is and you pursue your passion, It makes you a more fulfilled person. By being fulfilled on your own, you can then take all of that and pour it into a relationship.
One of the traps that we can fall into is looking to our spouse to fulfill us or making them responsible for our happiness and contentment. When you do that, you’re relying on someone’s personality to fulfill you instead of it coming from within. And if both people do that, what do you bring into that relationship? If you’re looking for someone else to make you a happy and fulfilled person, that’s draining for the person who has got to supply that. That’s just not sustainable. It’s also a lot of pressure on you to fulfill yourself and to make sure your partner is fulfilled as well. It’s not a good recipe for a relationship. You have to really pursue your own individual purpose and be happy and joyful within yourself before you can have a successful relationship with someone else.
The good news about this is that if you have your purpose and passion, your partner can support you in that. But if you don’t have it, they can’t be there for you. They can’t support you or know how to come up next to you, underneath you, and encourage you to give you what you need to fulfill your own purpose and mission.
Another takeaway from our interview with Jessica and Jeff was about rising up fully for who you are and speaking the truth in love. You can’t sugarcoat problems. You don’t want to make them so sweet and tender that they don’t sound like issues. But you also don’t want them to be too sharp. You can be assertive and assertive language is loving. It doesn’t mean you’re yelling and being negative. You’ve got to rise up fully for who you are and speak the truth, not just about yourself, but about your spouse too. If you’re holding them accountable, then you can speak to them lovingly about that.
If you’re struggling with something in your relationship, one of the key tips that Jessica talked about is that the obstacle is not the person. It’s not, “he or she is doing something” or “he or she isn’t doing something”. You have to look at it as a thing and say that thing, that belief, that false impression, or that thought is trying to get in the way of our success. Recognize it for what it is and then together figure out what we have to do to conquer it. It’s about understanding and figuring out together how to work through those obstacles.
An example of this was when they talked about the fingernail clipper. They have several fingernail clippers and they normally keep them in the same spot. Jeff was trying to find the fingernail clippers and couldn’t find them. They weren’t put back in the proper spot. He got very irritated with that. The situation had nothing to do with the fingernail clippers. It had to do with the fact that he loves order. It’s important to him. He felt out of control and unimportant in his own home because he couldn’t find what he needed. This was their example of how the “content” had nothing to do with the fingernail clippers. It had to do with communication. In that scenario, Jeff wanted to know that what he needed is where he left it because he appreciates order. It doesn’t mean that Jessica has to be afraid or concerned about it, but she can realize that’s a trigger for him and work harder to minimize the times when that occurs so it doesn’t become an issue for them. And that’s love, right? That’s communicating in a safe way. Be loving in your communication and don’t allow those other things to creep in. The discussion’s not about the fingernail clippers, it’s about do you value me? Do you appreciate me? Are you listening and valuing what I do for this relationship?
Jessica mentioned that sometimes that process is elusive. By taking a minute, taking a breath, and slowing down – then that elusiveness tends to dissipate and you can see and understand the real reason for the discontent. You have to be like a detective and find out the feelings that are underneath the discussion and make sure that they’re acknowledged. You have the right to feel the way you feel, and if somebody’s discounting your feelings, they’re really discounting you. Make sure that you understand what the feelings are underneath the discussion.
The Jennings brought us such great insight into what a kickass relationship and communication look like. They were both tender and sweet. We’re grateful to share a glance into this thriving relationship with you!
Until next time. Remember, happily ever after doesn’t just happen. It’s on purpose.