Welcome to the art of connection, a weekly series where we take everything from experts around the world and give you the most important takeaways in bite-sized nuggets that are relatable to your life. Host Baya Voce has dedicated her life to experimenting with human connection.
Here is what she had to say:
"The topic of marriage has been on my mind a lot lately. My obsession with relationships started years ago, but my interest in marriage became personal once I got engaged. Even though I'm with a guy I love, marriage is totally unfamiliar territory and scares the bejesus out of me, but I've felt like an absolute crazy person for being scared because for whatever reason, we don't often talk about these fears publicly.
It's interesting, when I tell people who've been married for years or who've been married and divorced that I'm scared, I get the same general answer…. some version of "wow, that's really smart". On the other hand, when I talk to younger people about it, newlyweds or people who haven't ever been married, I hear some version of "but you're more excited than scared… right?" as if being scared is unreasonable.
But the reality is, the more I talk about it, the more I realize I'm not alone and the less crazy I feel. And if I'm feeling this way, I know some of you are, too… so I wanted to dive in deeper.
Enter my favorite blogger of all time, Mark Manson. Mark does a brilliant job of giving practical, spiritual, super useful life advice with zero woo woo, and a lot of profanity :). It really is the best.
Mark has like a bazillion subscribers and he decided to put a call out to his whole email list asking the people who had been married 10 or more years or who had been married and divorced, what their advice was on having a happy marriage.
So, I picked my top 3 pieces of advice to share with you.
A healthy relationship means 2 healthy individuals. I love this one soooo much because I think we hear and say way too often that our partners "make us whole", "complete us, make us so happy". But I'm about to to go Baya Buddha on yall... nothing and nobody makes you happy besides you. Happiness comes from within. And I don't mean that in a cheesy one-liner way, either. In order to be in a happy and healthy relationship, we are responsible for making ourselves happy. Now, of course our partners bring us joy and can bring us happiness… that's not what I'm saying. But if you weren't happy before your relationship, once the gaga-love fades away, (which can last up to about 5 years by the way,) you still won't be happy if you haven't done any work on yourself… now you just have your partner to blame for emotions.
Unhealthy relationships also breed codependence. I don't even need to say anything about this on my own, one of his readers took the words out of my mouth and said it perfectly. She said "codependent relationships have an inherent stability because you're both locked in an implicit bargain to tolerate the other person's bad behavior because they're tolerating yours, and neither of you wants to be alone. On the surface it seems like 'compromising in relationships because that's what people do', but the reality is that resentments build up, and both parties become the other person's emotional hostage instead of having to face and deal with their own bs." Now, that's deep. She ends by saying "it took me 14 years to figure this out by the way". All to say… being self-aware enough to realize this is going on is no easy feat.
Moral of the story? All of your happiness in your relationship is not solely contingent on your partner and don't mistake codependence for healthy stability.
Have good communication. But what does having "good communication" even mean? Mark puts it brilliantly in the article. He says "This is a vague piece of advice that everyone says but few people seem to clarify what it means. Well, this is what they mean: be willing to have the uncomfortable talks. Be willing to have fights. Say the ugly things and get it all out in the open." And when your partner tells you there's a problem. Believe them. Don't just ignore it by thinking it's just their problem so you buy them chocolate or do more chores in hopes not addressing it will just make it vanish. I would also add that when it comes to having difficult conversations, I cannot stress enough the importance of turning towards each other. It's easy to vent to our friends about our relationship issues, but the only person you can truly solve your problems with, is your partner. And when you want to turn away from your partner the most, chances are that's when turning towards them will have the biggest impact.
The 3rd nugget of advice I'll share might be one of my all time favorites. "don't compromise." One of the readers said something that I thought was really smart. She wrote "everyone says that compromise is key, but that's not how my husband and I see it. It's more about seeking understanding. Compromise is bs because it leaves both sides unsatisfied, losing little pieces of themselves in an effort to get along. On the other hand, refusing to compromise is just as much of a disaster, because you turn your partner into a competitor "i win, you lose". These are the wrong goals because they're outcome-based rather than process-based. When your goal is to find out where your partner is coming from - to truly understand on a deep level - you can't help but be altered by the process. Conflict becomes much easier to navigate because you see more of the context." One of the smartest things about this is the idea that when you process things instead of stick with your point of you and get a result you're unsatisfied with, is that when you're processing, you're learning… about yourself and your partner. You get deeper into one another's fears, discomforts and uncertainties… and that level of intimacy breeds connection.
Ok, I mean…. dang Gina! This stuff is so good I can barely contain myself, and I'm telling you, there were sooooo many other nuggets of wisdom in this article that we're out of time to go over, so if you're interested in looking deeper into what other people were saying, make sure head to my website, bayavoce.com. I'll link the article under this video. And while you're there, sign up for my email list where you'll get Art of Connection episodes in your inbox every week to support you in living the most fulfilling life you could possibly imagine.
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