BY J.P. HOGAN
My wife and I are approaching our 40th anniversary, so lately I’ve been reflecting on all the years we spent together. In our first 30 years, we were an active duty Army family. That means we traveled a lot and spent a lot of time apart – a hard way to start a marriage, much less keep it going strong for three decades! If it weren’t for discipline and communication (not to mention, the amazing patience and commitment of my wife), we wouldn’t have such a wonderful milestone to look forward to this year.
I remember experiencing a great revelation one night while dancing with my wife to the Lou Rawls song “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Before the song was through, she told me she enjoyed being the wind beneath my wings as I advanced my career as an Army officer. Those words meant a lot to me – but, at the same time, it occurred to me that our relationship was focusing on my goals and aspirations at the expense of hers.
I know many people have experienced the same sort of complacency I had experienced up to that point. Over time, relationships can become routine and communication becomes less frequent and effective. This doesn’t just happen to husbands and wives; it can happen in any kind of relationship – friendships, business partnerships, forums, client relationships, you name it. People fall into habits and begin to make assumptions that, since things have been going well, everything’s okay.
But that complacency can lead to broader problems. Significant concerns can go unrecognized or partners in the relationship can find themselves stepping lightly to avoid thorny issues. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it does take a bit of work to help build and sustain healthy relationships.
By definition, a relationship is a two-way street. All the participants have goals and aspirations as well as frustrations and dreads. Every person in the relationship must recognize and honor that. A great relationship also requires discipline, so that all parties are constantly working to improve the depth and frequency of their communication.
When my wife shared her feelings with me on the dance floor, she opened a line of communication with me that had long lain dormant. I started paying more attention to what she needed as an individual and started doing anything I could to help her make her own dreams come true. Since I’m a military thinker by nature, I’ll admit, I made a process out of it. I made a point of scheduling time to communicate with her, and noted some things I should always share and ask about. Thanks to that, “Wind Beneath My Wings” remains one of our theme songs, and we’ve stayed true to being the wind beneath each other’s wings.
Today, as a member of the iMatter team, it’s a pleasure for me to share a very similar set of tools and practices to help people enjoy more mutually supportive and fun relationships. If you’re interested in becoming the wind under the wings of someone in your life – and experiencing the same in return – email me and I’ll tell you more about the powerful tools we use.