Deb: Over the last couple of months, my husband has been to me a friend, an ear, an errand boy, and caregiver, not just to my parents, but to me. And he has done it with grace. Not a roll of the eyes or a hint of resentment has shown on his face or in his demeanor.
And it got me thinking about partners. The people in our lives that are the yin to our yang, the mirror we look into every day, the person that keeps us honest while sharing in our deceit. But whatever their role, they are the people we spend our lives with. They can be our lovers, friends, children, business partners. They are life partners that we may have one or dozens of in a lifetime.
Recently I have had a bird’s-eye view of two partnerships at opposite ends of the spectrum. One relationship is a gorgeous example of one partner swooping in to help when their partner is felled, without question or hesitation. The other relationship, while under a very similar circumstance, is fraught with negative behavior and is depressing to view.
And the thing is ... much to my shock I find that one isn’t more powerful than the other. And even though I would not have the miserable relationship for the world, I have to respect it. Because the partners are doing the best that they can. And because this is their relationship—and as snarky as they can be with one another—this works for them. And I know for a fact that it works for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is their deep committed love. Whether I agree with how it presents itself doesn’t matter. A great partnership does not have to be a warm relationship, or even a kind relationship, to be great.
I would die if I had even a fraction of the combative partnership I see in these two people. But does that mean that my partnership is better? When we love, honour and respect our partner, it certainly makes it the more desirable love affair, but does it make it the better partnership? I can’t with honesty say that it does. Because a good partnership contains so many elements including chemistry, destiny, symmetry, history and an undeniable pull towards another creature. No one ever said a partnership had to be peaceful or, even to a degree, respectful. Many great partnerships in life are none of these things. Many famous and successful partnerships throughout history were unhealthy, depressing displays.
I am sure if I asked my sparring couple if they thought they were good partners, they would look at me miffed at the question, and respond that of course they are. So they are, for them. Maybe we all are, for us.
But if I have my pick as partnerships go, I will take what I have in my husband. The person who catches my glass before it shatters on the floor and hands me a tea before the thought crosses my mind. And he will receive same.
Barbara: As you predicted, Deb, this did throw me for a loop. Deb has had an intensely busy time and knew she would get this post to me late. So she gave me the heads-up that we would be talking partnerships in today’s blog so I could be prepared ahead of time with a short response. Funnily, I did have a whole (very long) running metaphor about cogs and wheels and how those don’t always run smoothly in even a great partnership, etc, etc, but you did stop me here with this, Deb. And I’m glad you did.
Because I can think of several partnerships that are fractious and challenging (a kind of partnership I wouldn’t want for myself if I had the choice) and yet I know, deep in my bones, that these relationships also work very well for the people involved.
Interestingly, we don’t seem to question this kind of challenge in work-related partnerships. Usually if people hear that business partners "don't get along", we assume that one temperament balances the other for success. We rarely assume the same when it comes to love relationships.
I think it finally depends on temperament. Some temperaments thrive on friction and challenge, some on support and nurturing. I too fall squarely into the latter group—so I would just like to thank both my husband and you, Deb, my work partner, for challenging and pushing me, but for mostly nurturing. I wouldn’t be the same without you.