I just felt this one needed to be spoken, and not just written. You can chose to watch the video, or read the written version below. They’re very similar, but some things just need a voice.
A little over a year ago, I took on the difficult task of explaining the entire world with 2 words. Today, after an amazing 3-hour conversation with a good friend, I present to you the 2 most important things in a relationship.
They presented themselves to me this morning, over a cup of coffee, and just to clarify, the context was around romantic relationships, or you could say marriage (if that’s your thing). I also happened to have recently experienced these two things with someone, and that’s still pretty fresh on my mind.
When you’re finished reading, please share your thoughts in the comments. What are your 2 most important things in a relationship, or marriage?
Comfort & Communication
The alliteration is just a bonus, but it’s nice when those things work out 🙂
Having the afternoon to think a little more about this, I think 2 things is just the right amount. One is too limiting. It doesn’t give the respect that a lifelong relationship truly deserves. Finding your lifelong partner is kind of a big deal, and therefore, deserves more than just one really important thing.
But 3 things is too many. Three is kind of like a gateway number. If you stop at two, it makes perfect sense, and it gives you enough flexibility that you don’t have to commit to only one. But three quickly turns into 4, 5 & 6, and it just gets more complicated from there.
[tangent] Three is a number we commonly use for many things in our culture, I suspect because some scientist proved that our hippocampus can only remember 3 things at a time. That’s great and all, but if love was just about science, there’d be a whole lot more happily married nerds out there, myself included. There’s a bit more to it than that. [/end tangent]
Seems pretty obvious on the surface, right? Sure. And I’m not going to redefine it. It still means what you’ve always known it to mean. But let’s frame it around the context of a relationship.
Straight ladies & gay gentlemen, just substitute he/him for she/her.
You’re comfortable around her. And you’re comfortable when she’s not around (but of course, you miss her). You’re comfortable with her at parties, work functions, around dogs, at home on the couch, out to a nice dinner, or sitting beside her saying nothing.
You’re comfortable watching her do something amazing… and watching her fail miserably. When she’s at her best… and at her worst.
You’re comfortable when she comes up to you and says, “We need to talk.” You’re comfortable during the talk… after the talk… and the next morning when you wake up beside her.
You’re comfortable when she goes out of town… alone. You’re comfortable when she invites you out of town with her… to a cabin in the woods… just the two of you… for a weekend of romance. OK, maybe now we’re getting a little too comfortable 😉
You’re comfortable around her friends, and when they start grilling you to see if you’re a standup guy. You’re comfortable around her parents… and her crazy Aunt Rita… and wild Uncle Willy… and not-all-there Grandma Betty. And you’re comfortable around her when she starts taking after Grandma Betty… and she’s not all there anymore either.
You’re comfortable when she says, “Hey… I just have to do this.” When she comes home and says, “I quit.” When she loses it and says, “I just can’t take this anymore.”
You’re comfortable when she asks you really difficult questions… even when you don’t have any answers.
You’re comfortable when she’s happy, sad, excited, exhausted, silly, serious & sexy. You’re comfortable with her being all of these things… or none of them.
You’re comfortable with every discussion that no one likes to have. With every situation that no one likes to be in. Every. Uncomfortable. Moment. … still, somehow, feels comfortable.
Can Comfort Be Created?
Sometimes you meet someone for the first time, and everything clicks. You instantly feel comfortable around them. By date 2 or 3, you open up to them, telling them very personal details about your life.
In a case like that, you might think comfort doesn’t need to be created. It’s already there. Well, not so fast. If you read the last section of this piece, you’ll realize there are plenty more scenarios that have yet to be tested.
But how can you create comfort if it’s not there? I’m glad you asked. Now let me share #2…
You can’t be comfortable with someone if you don’t tell ’em stuff. And you sure aren’t going to be comfortable with them if you don’t let them tell you stuff. I believe this is called talking & listening. Which, by the way, happen to be a phenomenal way to—you guessed it—COMMUNICATE!
I’d like to use a common analogy, but of course, I’m going to expand upon it.
Put all your cards out on the table…
Cliché, I know, but hey, even clichés have their place in communication.
So, put ’em out there. All of ’em. Not all at once, but don’t wait too long either. As soon as you’re comfortable (see what I’m doing here?), play the card. (leave your poker face at the door)
This isn’t War. You’re not starting with half the deck.
Maybe you’re playing Texas Hold’em, and you start with 2 cards. Your two favorite ice cream flavors (when she’s having a bad day, or pregnant cravings, you really might need that card).
Jump on over to 5 cards. Tell her the five most important people in your life, and why.
Then swim your way over to a romantic game of Go Fish. Each player gets 7 cards, which you both opt to trade in for 7 minutes in heaven. Hey, those cards are just as important. But maybe spend that last minute telling her why you just wanted to spend seven minutes in a closet with her 🙂
Remember the Uncomfortable?
Now that you’ve laid out all your cards…
You should be comfortable picking up her “empty” box of cards, turning it upside down, and shaking it, just to make sure there are no cards left in that box. And before she reaches to grab your box, you rip it wide open, exposing every last inch of your life.
As with most card games, there are many cards in the deck that have little value. You won’t miss them if they aren’t dealt to you. You discard them without a second thought.
But that one card can be a game-changer. And you better make sure you don’t let her find that card left in your box. Because that might be the one thing that she’ll never again be comfortable with.
In my experience, the sooner you communicate something—just about anything, really—the better it is for everyone involved. She appreciates it. You feel better about it. And it actually makes the relationship stronger because it builds trust.
And you know what? When you’re really comfortable with someone, you’ll know exactly when to play your cards.
So, what are the 2 most important things in your relationship?