Self Discovery and Mastery in a Healthy Relationship
Self discovery and self mastery are things you constantly work on, whether you're single or in a relationship. And needless to say, the journey to discover yourself, and be in control of this identity, is pretty hard. This is particularly difficult for people who date outside of their culture -as any interracial couple will admit.
This week we meditated on the need to assess how much we've discovered about ourselves since we started journaling, and how we can hold onto these in service of the relationship. This follows the journaling prompts for Week 10:
- What's one new discovery you've made about yourself since you started journaling?
- What's one new discovery you've made about your lover since you started journaling?
- How can you remain open to your lover's needs while staying true to yourself?
Do You Ever Stop To Discover Your Partner Anew?
Matthew Temple: This week, there are two things that I wanted to start with: the first being this Nicholas Sparks quote: 'The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it.' I think when we look at that, we often think that love is what that is, right? Because people feel like love breaks their heart, but it also heals it.
But I think it's actually more than just that particular emotion. I think it's actually deeper than that. I think that it's true with whatever challenging emotion there is; consternation, frustration, sadness... that there's also a place where your healing can take place. It could be just by accepting it, and in loving it and nurturing it.
Cera: And also giving it time to heal.
Matthew Temple: Sure. I'm also wondering, can happiness break your heart too? Because it also feels like a spectrum in some ways, right? I mean, it's a human emotion. So therefore, it's not perfect. It's not divine.
Cera: Hmm, food for thought.
Matthew Temple: Anyway, let’s get into the first journaling prompt: What is the new discovery you've made about your lover since starting this journal?
Matthew Temple: There's not much to discover about me?
Cera: Not really. I've discovered a lot of things about you in our time of dating and being together. But in the last two months, there hasn’t been much of discovery but confirmation of things I already knew.
Matthew Temple: It was not just confirmation bias, I hope? Where you're like, 'I think he's a little bit annoying sometimes.' And it turns out you've just confirmed that over the last few months.
Cera: Haha! Nope. And now that I think of it, I did discover something about you this morning. The level of your competitiveness.
I wrote in my journal about how when we went on a hike you couldn't stop talking about how you wanted to run another marathon if we move back to Kenya. All because a good friend of yours from high school is also running one, and you're afraid he's going to break your record.
Matthew Temple: Definitely we've always been competitive. Which I think really helped us both do well at school. We don't live close to each other anymore. So we don't see each other a lot. He's still a good friend though, and there's a little bit of competition there. The enjoyable kind.
Cera: But when you were talking about it, I looked at you, and you were like that 15 year old boy again. I knew that you were competitive alright. But this was just a confirmation.
The Importance of Curiosity in a Relationship
Matthew Temple: Yeah. It's interesting though, your use of the word 'confirmation'. I want to point out that that's actually something I think we have to be careful about with our partners. Because it can be so easy to fall into a habit of looking for what we want to see in the place where we already know to look.
As opposed to really wondering, 'What is the new thing I didn't know?'
I think that's really important since if you're in a relationship with someone that you love, you will be in that relationship for an exceedingly long time. Therefore allowing for the discovery to continue to be there, I think is really vital for a relationship.
Cera: Yeah. What's a new discovery that you've discovered about yourself?
Matthew Temple: For me, it was how writing about memories, or even about the future, can bring back old feelings.
When we did our very first week, I was writing about the things that made me fall in love with you. By bringing that up and putting it into words, I went back to an internal feeling of the way that I felt at the very beginning of our relationship. And I still feel so much of that stuff a lot of the time.
So this made me think about what I want to feel when I'm writing anything. Be it an article or blog post, I have to be aware of what I'm writing and how that's impacting me. Because the writing and the images in my mind that I'm conjuring up, have a deep impact on how I feel.
Cera: My self discovery is not really profound. Which is how soon as I hit 36 I started thinking long term and planning. I feel this new need to plan my future. It's not something I had before really.
I never imagined myself wanting to settle down, buy a house and all those other things that adults do. For most of my life, I've been spontaneous with my decisions as opposed to overthinking them like most people do for months or years.
Yet here we are, now I'm planning about things that I want to do when I'm 40. Or opening a retirement account. Or buying a vehicle that we can use in case I have a kid.
Matthew Temple: Hmm interesting what 36 is bringing. And now I really want to know, what is something that you can do to remain open to my needs, while being true to yourself?
Culture Clash in Interracial Relationships
Cera: I think this is going to be a challenge because we're now struggling with a culture clash. I don't think it was a challenge before, but at the moment the difference in our perspective of things is clearer.
So I want to stay open to how you do things and not hold that the way I do things is always better. having said that, I don't want to lose myself in your ways.
Honestly, I'm still in a place where I feel my way is the highway and yours is no good for me nor the world. So my commitment is to be more open to your culture and personality.
Matthew Temple: Speaking of clashing of culture. I think the issue I take with you is time. Generally speaking, Kenya is not known for people being timely. Correct?
Cera: Right, but let's qualify that. It's not an issue of time per se. It's bigger than about showing up on time. It's what we prioritize with our time. What we’re okay taking more of our time to do. Our cultures define productivity differently. Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and just want to go on a walk or a hike. But for you, that can't be good use of time. You'd rather be doing more business related things.
Matthew Temple: Okay, I think this takes us back to what you're talking about. Living spontaneously versus planning. So our clash around time comes from my expectation that if we have an agreement to do something at a certain time, you should keep time.
If that time comes and goes, I'm learning to just find something else to do during that time.' Or being comfortable saying, 'This no longer works for me, because I have made other plans.' So, with you, I'm learning to just relax about time. Having to do things later than scheduled doesn't have to be the end of the world. I don't actually have to be upset by that.
Anyway, I think that's a big question a lot of couples really face: remaining open to the other's needs and staying true to yourself. Those who figure that out have good relationships.
Cera: I know. I better figure this time issue out much, as it looks small, it's not. Every area of our relationship is so great.
Matthew Temple: But when you think about it, where our needs clash is where we actually have the opportunity to do much growth. Add to that, I don't think that whatever we've talked about are things that can necessarily be learned and mastered once and for all. The challenges will require constant openness and growth.
Cera: It's always going to be a work in progress?
Matthew Temple: Yeah, but a work in progress can be something that can be a challenge we enjoy.
Going on a five mile run is a challenge, but you enjoy it so you do it. You wouldn't if you complained while you ran for five miles, right?
Well, our relationship has its challenges. And I can either complain about the time or I can be like, 'I've chosen this, so I'm going to enjoy the fact that I am being pushed to the limit.' I think that's a good thing.
Cera: Yeah, every single time I work out, I'm like, 'Oh, I don't want to do this.' Yet I still show up and do it.
Matthew Temple: Right. But if you thought like, oh, I've worked out I've hit my goals for my muscle mass or my firmness, so I'm done with it, I never have to work out again. Shock on you, it doesn't quite work like that.
Cera: Nope, it doesn't. I guess that's the best way to look at our relationship. That it's going to require work for as long as I'm in it.
Matthew Temple: Yeah, this is a challenge we've signed up for. If you were Tom Brady, you would be happy to have gotten to face the Kansas City Chiefs in the last Super Bowl. Because if it'd be a challenge to win it, it's also a challenge to show up and do a good job. And when you show up and you do it, and you're challenged, that feels good because of the love that put you up to it.