Part of Sophie Keller's 'How Happy is' Series
You know you are in a good relationship if you both bring out the best in each other. Do you remember in the film 'As Good as It Gets' when Jack Nicholson’s character tells Helen Hunt’s character why he thinks they should be together? He says to her, “You make me want to be a better man.” Well, that’s what I’m talking about here!
You know when you are with the right person, as you want to be a “better” man or a “better” woman with that person, for him or her. A friend of ours was engaged for a long time in a long-distance relationship. Even though we really wanted our friend, John, to get married, we noticed that the couple really didn’t bring out the best in each other. My husband was concerned that John was going to marry: he didn’t feel that John wanted to be a “better man” with the woman he had chosen, or she with him. They encouraged each other to drink, smoke and take drugs and we observed that the dynamic wasn’t great between them. In the end, they actually did split up.
My husband and I have each found this to be true in our relationship. When I first got together with Oli, he would say that I was very hard on myself. Over time, I started to be kinder to myself, whether that meant going to get a massage, buying a new top or not feeling guilty about watching a movie in the middle of the day, when I felt I needed to be working eight hours a day. He inspired me to be a bit freer and to let go of some of my more rigid patterns because I wanted to make changes for him. And yes, he also changed in many ways. . . . He no longer lives the wild rock-and-roll lifestyle that he used to have and all that entails. (He said that I am not allowed to give away any more details than that!)
This doesn’t mean that you should try to “change” your partner. Rather, we each have incredible capabilities in us and a good relationship will help bring out our very best. Strive to encourage your partner in this way, and let your partner do the same for you.