Growing Together…Not Growing Apart
Recently I was watching my husband as we were going about a lovely weekend day and this funny feeling came over me where I thought – it’s so cool that it’s you. I was feeling how he is that same constant person I adore, but we have changed so much together over the years. He is like a fresh and unfamiliar excitement, and at the same time, my most comfortable and familiar spot in the world. What a great combination of feelings to feel for your spouse! I began pondering how we got to this place and taking the time to feel the gratitude for such a gift.
As I looked back over the years, a few things jumped out that I think are worth sharing. During the first years of our marriage, we were so busy with babies and providing for their needs, we never really had the opportunity to celebrate our anniversary. This was fine, we were in survival mode and just embracing parenthood, it was a choice and we allowed that to be our priority. Even though we weren’t pausing to celebrate our marriage, we were building a strong foundation for trusting each other and always being there for each other. Becoming a parent is such a huge change; we had already begun our changing together and doing it well without even knowing it. Our fifth anniversary was the first time we really celebrated. We began a new tradition that year. We made five promises for five years. We spontaneously came up with five things we would try to do together or get better at, etc. We put the list away and looked at it the next year to see how we did. We didn’t obsess over it, just a guide for our discussion the next year when we made another list…six promises for six years.
One of the promises that has been on the list each year is how many books we commit to read together that year. It turns out this was our magical promise! This promise came naturally to us because we had already realized that when you read something that changes you or means a lot to you, you naturally want your spouse to read it to. We had made this choice before and seen how important it is to honor what is meaningful enough to share with each other. When we decided to take it up a notch and commit to a certain number of books each year, we were opening the doors to much more change and growth together.
One thing that was magical about the decision to read together each year was the magical way the universe sent us the perfect book selections for us. We never chose ahead of time, we were just open to what came to us in a meaningful way. It became exciting to see how the dots connect and messages are delivered when you’re open and ready and willing to see and hear. It has been a delight to do this together. As we go about our life, we are always on alert for what the universe is sending our way. We are ready to embrace things together.
Another magical outcome of our little promise to each other to read meaningful things together was how much excitement it brought to our lives with being willing to try new things. Our partnership on some of these meaningful discoveries allowed us to really implement changes for our family and changes in our way of seeing the world together. We have embraced all kinds of new things and we have been up for them with excitement, here are just a few examples:
- Switched to a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet – this was the first major change we did together as a result of reading. We read enough to know this was what we wanted and we went for it. This would have been impossible to do without the support of each other. I love hearing my husband say how exciting it actually was to try something so completely different. I think taking on this huge change together opened us up for many more new things.
- Became Pyramid of Success Enthusiasts – this one was lovely for our family, it helped us teach the children about character what real success looks like – knowing you did your best. It has shaped many areas of our personal success and family life.
- Poetry – We have family poetry time each night. It is a lovely part of the day we share with our kids. We get to tap into a beautiful frequency in the world, it’s a gift…our reading led to this delightful practice (I will detail our poetry practice another time – we love it so much).
- Quit/Limited Watching TV – somewhere along the line, we decided to quit watching television. I am sure the reading and special family time with books had a lot to do with this. After a few years, some specific mindful entertainment has come back in and of course tennis, but other than that, we remain a family who doesn’t watch television and it has enriched our lives in so many ways. Just getting out of the habit of having the TV on helps. Then when you do decide to watch it, it is more meaningful and exciting. (confession – I do allow junky television to creep in sometimes during workouts…I figure one good choice cancels the other junky one…I feel better if I make it a meaningful choice, but I still choose the junk once in a while).
- Great Discussions – as we grew our reading together and learning new things, our discussions have opened up so much and we have really become better versions of ourselves with much more interesting things to talk about. It feels like purpose and really living and encouraging each other rather than just going through the days.
- Meditation – we started this together. One of us is better at it than the other…good job honey! We both know how important it is for supporting growth and stillness and clarity. We encourage each other to make time for it and we teach it to the kids.
- Prayer – we feel meditation is listening to God and prayer is speaking to God. We are able to tap into the power of Life by learning and implementing these practices and our reading and openness got us to practice more regularly and know what we want to talk to God about.
- Open Heart – I think this is what I noticed recently… the spirit of our hearts have changed together. It feels like we were meant to be together and to bring out these changes in each other. We are so very different (which is a good thing) and still have found such joy in making meaningful changes together. Within our love we can feel how much more open we have become and it is stellar!
- Unfamiliar – in our reading we came across this and it is amazing. It is possible to become too familiar to feel what is going on around you. We have been able to foster the comfort of our familiarity and still find new and exciting things together that allow us to see each other in new and unfamiliar ways all the time…keeping it thrilling!
- Courage – we found courage to be more of ourselves. We learned what fear really is and we support each other as we turn away from it and towards Life. We feel up for anything and more connected to life and everything and everyone around us. We have found a more soulful connection.
This is an incomplete list of just a few of the things that came out of one little promise we spontaneously made a few years back! I am so very grateful.
Reading together and changing together doesn’t mean you see things exactly the same way, it means you make it more exciting by sharing your own point of view and listening to another. It leaves enough room to grow and change together rather than apart and still be true to your own soul and honor your own journey. Now that we have been doing this for a while we aren’t so strict about how many books we will read together each year…we just go with the flow and know that we will do it!
If you don’t have a spouse or partner, you can still do this practice with a dear friend or family member…just pick someone who loves you enough to support you becoming the best version of yourself.
Lets grow together and be courageous about change and trying new things! Sending you so much love!