The opportunity to challenge me is not a right, it’s a privilege I give to you when I feel safe enough to hand over that power.
Wedding prep is a really great thing — it brings up a lot of important issues that need to be addressed before walking down the aisle.
It took me some time to realize why it irked me so much when my partner would challenge me to improve myself.
But the lightbulb has finally gone off in my head, after a brief argument we had this past weekend.
First and foremost, I am in no way a lazy person.
At 26, I have 2 degrees, a successful business, a debut novel drafted and I own my dream house. These are all elements I started and achieved before my partner and I ever lived together or were engaged.
It’s obviously not that I have an issue with being challenged to be my best self, that’s not the problem at all.
So why was it that, when I heard for the millionth time from my partner that I’m not being physically active enough, I finally erupted like a volcano?
The key to this is to understand that, in this moment of time, we are in very different roles in our partnership.
And to that same end, we are personally aiming for very different goals.
We need to flip the script here.
Until our roles are reversed, my fiancé will not understand how much work goes into being the supporting partner in a relationship.
My current role is to support my fiancé as he works his a** off to become a certified professional accountant, all while working full-time.
He is working at this goal, not only for personal reasons, but also to improve the long-lasting quality of our family’s future.
My role, as his partner, is to manage all the logistics and emotional burden of our partnership on my own, all while planning our wedding (which is three months away).
Without me, he would not be able to work towards this massive goal in his career. My support facilitates this into being possible.
From cleaning to laundry to taking care of our dog to all the cooking and dishes and groceries and chores and our social calendar… it’s all my responsibility right now.
All while running my social media marketing and copywriting company full-time.
I’m in a supporting role so that my partner can focus all of his energy on studying for 4-5 hours a day outside of work for the 7+ exams he will be writing in the next 2 years.
I’ve only just realized that he truly does not understand how much work I have on my plate as well to manage our lifestyle together.
Finding the words to communicate this clearly has been difficult... until now.
Self-betterment and challenging one another to be our best selves.
Our relationship has always been pursued in the nature of holding one another up to be the best we can be, and we will continue to operate it in such a way.
But I’ve come to realize a very important factor in terms of self-betterment:
We all have a different definition of what we need to be challenged with to improve who we are at any given time.
And in the same way, we need to receive love from our partners in a language we best understand, so is the case with how each need to be individually challenged by our partners.
Achieving my best version of myself, based on my unique vision of what that entails, is different from that of my partner.
I’ve only just realized that my partner has been actively trying to challenge me to better myself based on his definition of self-betterment, which he is trying to achieve for himself.
There is no malicious intent here. My partner is a fitness and health nut, and all of his suggestions for self-betterment lie in scientific research and proven fact. He is constantly trying to find the best health hacks for top efficiency and productivity.
However, in my current role as the supporting pillar holding up his weight so he can achieve his designation, this sort of self-betterment does not align with my personal definition of how I need to be challenged by my partner right now.
In truth, he hasn’t actually taken the time to ask me how I need him to challenge me so that I can achieve the best version of me, based on my OWN definition.
Instead, he is assigning his own script to me and assuming that it should fit, when it simply does not align with the goals I am pursuing right now.
Could I be healthier than I am currently? Sure, of course. But right now, eating well-balanced home-cooked meals and having an incredibly positive relationship with my body is already a huge win.
I will never be the wife who goes to the gym with her husband at 5 am, 6 days a week.
Instead, I will be the chick who goes out for a 30-minute jogs 2-3x per week in the spring and summer and then returns home to continue writing her next novel. I will also be the wife who hibernates through the winter, with minimal exercise.
I need to know that he’s aware of the fact that this is okay.
I need to know that he doesn’t see me as a failure simply because I’m not reaching the level of fitness he deems as important for himself.
As long as he is projecting that personal expectation upon me, he is instilling in me a feeling that in his eyes I am dropping the ball and failing.
And I’ve only just realized now that this is the overwhelming burden I’ve been carrying for months, without knowing how to express it.
I am good enough, and my drive is absolutely enough.
Married or not, whether he’s around or he’s gone, I will always have goals I’m working towards.
Because I will always be my own individual person, and I always have a right to that individuality. Just as he does.
I will always be open to being challenged to be the best version of myself.
And therein lies our problem — my partner believes that by challenging me based on his definition of self-betterment, he is doing me a favour.
In all reality, his plan is backfiring and he’s actually hurting me.
In my supporting role, juggling all the balls that I do, most days I’m just in survival mode, while somehow finding a way to pursue my own goals in the little slots of spare time I have.
He never actually asked me what I need so that he can support me to achieve my own version of my best self.
He just applied his own script to me and deemed it appropriate.
But that’s not how partnership works.
And while he projects his own expectations onto me, he is simply making me feel that, in his eyes, I am failing.
When in all reality, I’m f*cking killing it at juggling what I am while still moving closer to personal goals for both my business and myself.
I want to be very clear — my partner believes he is lovingly trying to support and challenge me in the best way he knows how.
And that’s why we need to make a change in the dialogue — because I need him to support and challenge me in the way I need to be challenged to achieve my own goals… not to achieve his goals for myself.
To be able to support me as his partner, I require him to listen to what I need, and trust my judgment in what’s best for me, and then support me in that journey.
Otherwise, he’s projecting his own recipe for self-fulfillment onto me, based on his own terms and conditions.
I don’t need to become the best version of who he is — I need to become the best version of who I AM.
Because at the end of the day, whomever I am in the moment will always be more than enough.