Last weekend I ended up at a relationships retreat.
Don’t ask me why because currently I am unattached (applications welcome).
And I’ve got to say there wasn’t much in the way of advertising for getting married or having children!
Seriously though I have seen enough great relationships to know that it’s possible.
OK, so they are not the most common beast on the planet but they do exist.
Most people just seem to settle. Settle for whomever they seemed to tolerate the most, rather then a genuine partner.
I have friends who have fabulous relationships and it is them whom I am determined to model mine on. Just because they are in the minority doesn’t mean that I have to accept anything less then awesome in a relationship as long as I am prepared to put in the work to make it work myself.
Easiest trick that I was ever taught by my relationships counsellor is that “good relationships are hard work – make sure you find somebody who makes the hard work worthwhile”.
I’ve had my ups and downs with partners but I have never been long with somebody who didn’t believe in me, support me, and allow me the uninterrupted freedom to explore my goals, dreams and ambitions (regardless of whether they wanted to participate).
For example (weird nerd alert) until I was 30 I loved playing with Lego (not kidding).
And remember by that age I was a multi-millionaire so I had the biggest, badest collection of Lego in the history of man kind (still do).
I used to lock myself away for hours, sometimes days on end building things and then taking them apart. I couldn’t imagine too many women who would love to actively get involved in that passion of mine but my partner at the time used to make the best cheese sandwiches that she would lovingly bring to me and had remarkably effective (and fun) ways to get me interested in her when my hobby became an obsession. One day I just woke up, put the Lego away and haven’t been near it since, but I’ll always remember how terrific she was.
Anybody who’s spent any time with me knows how absolutely obsessed I can get with things. I do something to absolute death and heaven help anybody who gets in my way.
Some of my greatest successes (and biggest failures) were when I have been like this and all my partners have been extraordinarily supportive and encouraging of me. Smart women know how to handle their men when their ego gets out of hand so they are still supported and not bruised.
As far as I’m concerned if my partner’s into it I’m into it (even if I am not). As a partner the absolute MINIMUM I can do if I really can not get into what they are into is stand back and let them do it while trying to comprehend what juices them about it – who knows I might even learn something.
And if my partner really shows an interest in something I believe it is my obligation to get behind it 110% with all of my heart, resources and energy. I don’t have to participate (in fact she may not want me too) but I do have to support.
My enthusiasm for boating came from this. My partner at the time loved boats. I’d heard ALL the jokes – best two days of a boat owner’s life – the day they buy the boat and the day they seller them. If you want to know what owning a boat is like just stand in the shower and rip up money – it’s cheaper and so on – so I was very sceptical about boat ownership. In fact the first time she raised it I think I was slack enough to poo poo the idea but she loved them so I thought I’d buy one to make her happy.
I started looking at little, sensibly priced boats but add that desire to please with my ego and the result is my 63ft Sunseeker! But I LOVE boating now – who’d a thunk?
My philanthropy is also because of the same thing.
My partner was involved in a charity organising an auction at a ball. I hated wearing dinner suits at the time and after my mother dragged me along to dance classes for years when I was a kid, hated dancing (even though I was quite good at it) and at that stage of my life I was very much anti-toffs who I thought would fill up charity balls.
Well, again, I put in my minimum effort of getting out of the way and being as supportive as I could without being dragged into it. On the night of the ball I looked all very handsome in my Dinner suit (and guys, they are one of those sure fire ways of looking very much like Brad Pitt), was quite a hit with my dancing and girls you know what ALWAYS follows dancing, and who’d a thunk I got REALLY into the auction taking home just about every prize.
Cutting a long story short that’s when I started to get interested in charity work. Now I have my own charitable foundation which invests it’s funds using my methodologies and donates 50% of the earnings to charity and retains 50% to compound the fund.
I say all this to once again reveal my philosophy – great things have come from me supporting my partner – so why wouldn’t I?
And based on that why wouldn’t I have as a minimum belief that anybody who has a live in / fiancé / husband / girlfriend / lover who doesn’t support them in any meaningful way should take a leap of faith and find one who does.
Anyway it’s been proved that people that are happily married live longer, are wealthier and have better health and I guess that’s pretty good marketing!