The Nature of Partnership

As I approach what would have been a our 25th anniversary and begin the process of building once more, I find myself reflecting on the nature of true partnership.  Marriage is simply one type of partnership; there are many others and all have their difficulty.  However it seems to me that they probably all have at their heart the same issues and challenges.  It is all about alignment and how that is achieved and maintained.  I think that first of all comes a period of exploration, during this phase you explore and seek to understand whether you are both not only both seeking the same thing, but if you are happy to do so using compatible means.  This means lots of communication.  Of course communication happens at many levels and is so much more than just the words you exchange, and absolutely embraces the alignment of what one does with what was promised.  You have to both need and want similar things, or perhaps be able to supply each other with things of equal value.  This means that there needs to be trust that this ‘supply’ of what is needed is going to be maintained and the trust is built slowly by experience.

Of course, over time, people and businesses change and so can their needs, if we are lucky these changes happen in ways that are compatible and do not threaten the partnership.  Communication is our way of not only maintaining our partnerships but also of continually assessing their state.

I find it amazing how, in this connected, internetted age, where we are continually bombarded by ‘communication, something as simple as communication is still so a great a challenge.  We don’t just interpret what each other says, but what we don’t say; sometimes silence shouts loudest.  However, as we never have full information as to what is happening for the other partner, we can often be missing vital data in our interpretation.  Of course, over time, we gather more data, so it is easier to fill these data gaps and make correct judgements in long-standing partnerships.

To give this any kind of chance there has to be goodwill.  Goodwill enough to do the work, to fill the gaps and explain the silences.  The interesting question is “Where does this goodwill come from?”  Is it inherent in our nature / personality or a factor of our need, or some combination of the two?  What do you think?

“The key is to get to know people and trust them to be who they are. Instead, we trust people to be who we want them to be- and when they’re not, we cry.”

“Without trust, words become the hollow sound of a wooden gong. With trust, words become life itself.”

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