We are designed to take care of one another. Simon Sinek
I’m often asked what is my best relationship advice for any couple?
When I started dating my husband, one of the things he asked me on a long beach walk was what I wanted most in life. It was that early stage of getting to know each other when you might make something up to sound intriguing, but I took a risk. I just told the truth.
‘I want to feel safe’.
There was a chance he could have judged me as unadventurous, boring, or like I was looking to be saved or live a mundane life. Safety wasn’t all I wanted. I ached to immerse myself in passion, excitement and new adventures – but I had to feel like any relationship I risked throwing myself into was on solid ground before all that awesome stuff could flourish.
He didn’t flinch.
‘I’m your man’ he said ‘I can help with that’.
It was a bonding moment where he actually accepted my feelings even more than I did. Like I said, call me dull to desire safety, but as with everything, there was a context.
I’d been feeling unsafe for a long time. You see, a few years before I met Andrew I left a first marriage that wasn’t working. I was an unemployed, renting, single mum of a preschooler – but I chose it and I embraced the loss of the familiar in exchange for the hope of future happiness. I was terrified but determined to be fearless. I got the basics of my life sorted; started working in my profession again; found a little place we could afford and began dating an extraordinary man I’d known a long time and believed I’d be with forever.
Then my happiness and sense of safety took another epic hit. The man I loved was diagnosed with advanced, aggressive prostate cancer after only three months together. I stuck with him and we fought it but lost, which made for a very rough, agonisingly uncertain two years.
Stress hormones are released when we’re fearful, anxious and unhappy. I’d been desperately unhappy in my marriage, then as my beloved gradually withdrew into death, I shook internally most of the time. The tremors were almost imperceptible to others but disturbingly real to me. It all happened so suddenly; my world turning on its head twice in the space of three years so that I was living on adrenaline, cortisol and coffee.
Then grief held me for a year or so in its weird half-light before I could emerge from the shadows into the glare of my brave new world. That’s where I found Andrew under a bright sun, smiling, asking ‘What do you want most?’
‘I want safety’.
I found it.
Of course he didn’t solely give it to me, but he helped me build it up again and co-created unshakeable trust between us. Safety, stability, security, certainty – I know that all of these things are ultimately illusions in a reality that has no guarantees, but we need to keep finding hope that some measure of them is possible, especially in our relationships. From the moment we start to crawl until we die, emotional safety is what best enables great risk, adventure and rewards.
Passion thrives on excitement, freshness and edginess but we experience these qualities most intensely in a connection we deeply trust – heart, gut and soul. My best relationship advice to any couple is to focus on creating a land together where no boundaries are needed, where respect is the currency, everything is possible and you feel safe that the intent is always love. It’s from the deepest, most connected places of safety that you evolve your greatest opportunities for adventures of body, heart and soul.
Just BE the love that you ARE x
For more on creating the life and relationship you desire www.drdebracampbell.com