A couple years ago I was talking with one of my dear friends. I was zipping through a story and somehow got to a point where I mentioned I didn't feel as though I was giving the full potential of my part of 50:50 (in my relationship).
She gently interrupted and said "Ariel, of course you're not giving or getting what you feel you need to. Because you are supposed to give the person you are in love with 100%, not (less than) 50%."
I stopped. Generally, my first reaction to a statement like this would be to press my point. But I was too surprised and confused to do that. I was somewhere in between feeling shocked and mesmerized by the idea.
My friend picked up on my sudden silence and continued "If you only give half, and expect the other person to give half, that's not really love. That's half of what your love could be." I absorbed her words and tried to casually change the subject all while turning bright red in my face and stumbling over my words. Luckily, she's extremely gracious and let the topic slide.
Giving anything or anyone 100% is not only frightening, but also feels completely unnatural. Maintaining that control has to be some form of evolution, since a broken heart is a valid concern (as opposed to hoping the caveman comes back with some form of food and that we'll make it until the morning.)
It's like handing over your heart in one hand with a knife in the other and saying "Alright, here you go!" At least that was my unconscious thought process before my friend brought this point to my attention.
Days after our conversation, her words were still ringing in my mind. I felt a mixture of excitement and outrageous fear with this new way of thinking, but also guilty. I had never expressed love 100% before.
Around the same time I spoke with my friend, my partner and I were going to Recovering Couples Anonymous. We had been engaged for several months, and we wanted to learn relationship and communication tools so we could both have the best form of intimacy possible. RCA is a transformational program, and I recommend it to most who share they may be struggling in their relationship.
A week after the conversation with my friend took place, one of our mentors at the meeting repeated almost exactly what my friend had said.
It became pretty clear that something or Someone was trying to send me a message. Before I was even able to offer 100% of myself, I had to do a lot of work. Between my commitment to the Passion Provokers Process of five 90-minute sessions and attending RCA, I finally came to some tough realizations.
Through these tools and processes, I discovered that for the majority of my life, not only did I not love myself, I resented myself. The saying is true; if you don't love yourself you can't truly love anyone else. Facing myself and figuring out what I needed to do in order to have peace with who I was and who I am was the hardest thing I ever did, and continue to do.
Since I completed the process, I've discovered that I am now more inclined to love wholly. I am more accepting of my own flaws, therefore more accepting of the flaws of others.
So, I swallowed my fear and started bringing 100% of myself to our relationship, instead of my standard 50%. Giving 100% of myself went something like this . . .
1. I talked exponentially less and, as a byproduct, listened exponentially more.
2. I started to communicate non-verbally in the love languages that I knew my husband needed (if you want to figure out what your love languages are, click HERE).
3. I began taking better care of myself by making healthy food choices and exercising more frequently. Pretty soon, we were cooking together and walking the dogs together. The bond that is created when you cook and work out with your partner is profound.
4. I practiced becoming aware of my unconscious behavior. One major thing was I noticed I used my phone as a way to avoid awkward situations. So, I started dealing with the awkward situation as opposed to avoiding it. We argued exponentially less.
5. I started accepting and believing the compliments that were given to me.
If you choose to give 100%, your coupleship will thrive. Just as happiness is contagious, giving a whole heart is as well. I'm not sure when I will actually get to 100%, but it's more about the journey than it is about the destination. In fact, the destination is the journey.
I am still on this journey. I have hiccups and total mess-ups on this journey. But I continue to value my coupleship over everything else. I want to be the best version of myself, not only for myself, but for him.
You can try doing this without telling your partner, or you can do it with an open conversation. It's scary as hell and extremely uncomfortable. But I promise that you will discover an intimacy that is limitless.
"If you only give half, and expect the other person to give half, that's not really love. That's half of what your love could be."