5 things I've learned about being a partner

As Valentine's Day quickly approaches I find myself reflecting on my relationship with Kurt, thinking specifically about how we have grown together and as individuals over these past three years. You see, in high school and throughout college I didn't date at all. I was a focused student and musician, with many other things to occupy my time. So when Kurt and I met and started dating in December 2012, I felt a little out of my element! After this sharp learning curve, however, I have come to understand the benefits of a healthy relationship. As we have transformed I continue to be pleasantly surprised by how we've learned to be partners - both in life and in love.

  A quick selfie taken the day after we were married - a little tired, but so, so happy!

A quick selfie taken the day after we were married - a little tired, but so, so happy!

As I learn about Kurt, I in turn learn more about myself. I've tried to consolidate some of these revelations into five ideas, listed below! 

1. Choosing vulnerability leads to vulnerability in others.

Vulnerability is difficult. For me, there was something about being vulnerable with Kurt that was especially challenging early in our relationship. When I overcame the desire to hide in my "shell" I unconsciously invited him to be vulnerable as well. While it took some time to break down those "perfect" exteriors we had been displaying to one another, the result was a level of trust and understanding we would have never achieved had one of us not taken the first step to being vulnerable. 

2. Articulating needs with clarity is a must

I think women are sometimes taught to not ask what is needed. We'll figure it out, we'll make it work - we'll accommodate others. I've learned that taking that approach with Kurt only leads to frustration and unhappiness. When I am not honest and clear with Kurt about what I need, I lose. He deserves transparency from me, as I deserve it from him. 

3. Listening, and responding, is key  

Often in my relationship with Kurt I feel like there is nothing that could go wrong, that nothing that could separate us. To achieve that feeling we both have had to put time and energy into cultivating vulnerability, transparency, and trust. This has meant more listening than talking, choosing joint priorities rather than more selfish goals, or learning more about what devotion and affection means to each of us. Kurt and I listen to each other knowing that words will lead to action.

4. I still need "me" time. 

My introvert game is strong. Kurt - not so much. He recharges by talking and spending time with me while I best recharge in silence by myself. When we first moved in together it didn't take long for me to feel like I was trapped, thinking I had lost the opportunity for "me" time. What I had to learn is that "me" time is non-negotiable. I need that for my sanity. I had to help Kurt understand that when I retreat into my head for that time, I'm not angry or upset with him, I just need some quiet time to recharge.

5. Learning something together is learning one another. 

Kurt and I recently built a piece of furniture together for my office space in the new apartment we're living in. It wasn't the first thing we had built together, but it was the largest, most detailed thing we had built. (A future post to come!) Tackling a big project like that was a great way to learn more about one another. When Kurt and I take on a project and learn how to do something together, we always walk away having learned something new about the other person as well. We learn about what our frustration triggers are, how we appreciate the work of others, and what gets us excited. By doing things together and learning together, we always can learn more about the other person as well. 

Embracing these five ideas has helped Kurt and I to embody the definition of subjective perfection in our relationship - we value the other person while always striving to make each other better. 

However, these ideas are not only limited to romantic relationships and partnerships! In your relationships, how have you found yourself developing as a partner? What have you learned about yourself and your "other" in the process? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!