Before Us, There is Me.

Relationships. Couple-hood. Marriage. Complicated Stuff. Anyone can tell you that being in a relationship is a lot of work. They won’t tell you JUST HOW MUCH WORK IS INVOLVED, but we more or less have an inkling of how life-altering maintaining a long-term partnership is. Ofcourse, when we are under the spell of love, we’re more than willing to take in that work, roll up our sleeves and go all the way in active participation, hardly notice time passing, our life passing. Love can truly be a motivating force.

For a lot of people, it becomes this great narrative they look back on that has not only propelled their love story forward, but also their true selves forward. They thrive in the arms of their partners and grow as much as their relationship has and It’s great. Really. That kind of fate isn’t guaranteed for everyone, though. 

For many others, the outcome of completely submerging themselves into relationships can leave them not only with faulty connections with their partners that fail the test of time, but also feeling drained, lacking and hollow as individuals. So, if sincerely giving a relationship your all can still leave the union unraveled and falling apart, then what gives? 

Maybe the key to a successful relationship lies not it giving it our all, but in being at our best. Maybe prioritizing ourselves, investing in our personal growth and fulfillment is more fundamental in strengthening a relationship with someone else than we think and perhaps the best time to start that self-investment is now.

Sooner or later, life reveals that committing to a life-long relationship and raising a family can get tedious and overwhelming. We refer to marriage as “settling down” but the truth of the matter is, NOTHING SETTLES DOWN. Everything escalates. The demands are more, the needs are more. And no, we don’t just “settle down” with our partner because working for our partner’s affection and respect is never-ending work too. Working on the “us” should be continuous, unending and so should working on the “me” because it is the very significant and vital half of the “us”. 

While working on relationship goals are important, it should also be clear in our heads that our own personal intentions should not have to be demoted to the back seat. Partnerships should encourage us to be better individuals who are really committed to enriching ourselves so that there is more of a healthier self to share with our spouses. We want to be in a place where we are in charge of our own growth, so much so that we also inspire our partners to cultivate themselves so that coming together as a couple, as a team, is all the more powerful and strengthening. It is not necessary to be giving up so much of who we identify ourselves to be and what we stand for in order to cater to another person. In fact, the more whole we are, the more there is of ourselves to share and give.

It is ideal to cultivate a healthy mindset about self-care even when we are fully committed to a life with our respective partners. Small habits can be implanted in our everyday to encourage that we do not lose our sense of self in the process of fostering a union with another person. Those little habits don’t have to dominate our schedules either. We can, for example:

  • Choose to start the day a little earlier so that we can slowly and mindfully drink our coffee in silence and think of the goals we want to achieve for ourselves for the day, the week or the month. 
  • Set a specific time in a day where even for just half an hour, we devote our efforts to an activity all by ourselves like a solitary jog around the block or an exercise of our choice, or a few minutes of meditation practice so we can exhaust our physical stresses and tune in to how our minds are set and how bodies feel and re-calibrate if necessary.
  • Write down specific aspirations like our career goals, furthering our education, our interests and passions, a business venture or a hobby that interests us or the places we want to travel to; write down the things that make us excited. Sorting out our dreams and ideas on paper allows us to see which ones we can actually realize in the near future and which ones we really want to work on and make time for in the long run. It is exciting to be able to jot down possibilities for ourselves to feel and know that we are still growing independently and that we remain curious and fascinated, hungry to see, learn and experience more and not for the sake of anyone else but ourselves.

The aspects of the “me” that we most identify with and that we feel are integral to who we are and who we aspire to be (the very aspects of us that are also highly likely the very reasons our partners were attracted to us in the first place) should remain undiluted even when “us” happens.  When we feel and know that we are whole as a person, that we don’t need to redirect our own trajectory or make ourselves small and when we are industrious in looking after ourselves, we are able to step into the ring of our relationship in much fuller force. We can give our other half our best because they deserve our best and because we did the homework of self-work. More importantly, we release our partners of the unnecessary burden of having to deal with our personal issues of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence because as the these words so blatantly suggest, all efforts have to come from OURSELVES, not anyone else. Not even our partners. That is our duty, not theirs.