Relationships !!#%! Relationships?? Ah, Relationships. Part

“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fear.” – Glenn Clark

This is part I of my Relationships Blog. Look for part II next week.
Sam met Judith at a party thrown by mutual friends at their apartment. She was interesting, smart, cute, challenging, and talented according to his friends and he felt he had known her all his life. She, he found out the next day from his friends, was interested in getting to know him better as well. Sam was doing well as a printing executive. Judith was working at a temp agency while starting her singing career. She was about to go out of town once again for a few weeks to do a role in some opera with the Fort Worth Opera Company. Sam really admired her commitment but knew nothing about opera. Judith knew nothing about the printing business but liked Sam’s sense of integrity and his wonderful sense of humor. They started a relationship via phone calls and emails. They found they had much in common with their upbringing and backgrounds. Both were from small mid-west towns, had siblings and were an aunt and uncle. Soon they started seeing each other exclusively and finally moved in together. Within the next year they were talking marriage. Both Judith and Sam had to go out of town on business trips quite often now, Judith being gone for longer periods of time than Sam. As the glow of being in love started waning and the reality of dealing with everyday issues became more prevalent both Sam and Judith started wondering if this was the best idea for them. They had a hard time juggling their careers, making time for each other, and then, tending to their immediate families. How could they possibly make this work?
Sound familiar? Deciding to make a commitment to your career and your relationship can feel like a conundrum. How do you make it all work? Is it possible to do both? It seems overwhelming, like you have to make a choice. Is there a way to make it work? Yes is the answer. Here are some ideas to help you work through this type of situation.
Make the commitment to support each other and to work as a team. Often in today’s world because both people in a relationship have careers that need their full time, energy and attention, you forget that “you are a team” and need to work together to make your relationship work. You must make time for one another. And that time must be a priority and commitment for both of you.

  • Here’s an idea that, if consistently used, really works. Give yourselves a half hour to an hour when you first get home from work to just leave everything else as is and sit with a cup of tea or glass of wine and each take turns talking about your day at work while the other is focused on listening. You will find that you have cleared your head and can be more present for whatever you are planning for the evening, even if it is work related. And you will have spent quality time together. If you are meeting for dinner somewhere, take the first half hour or so to do the same thing. That half hour or hour after the work day should be almost sacred and not missed even if it has to be done over the phone.

  • And here are a couple of Don’ts. Don’t start eating dinner until you each have had a chance to summarize your work day. That will clear room in your head and heart allowing for the time and energy to talk about other important and interesting things you have discovered, read about, heard or seen during the day. Don’t interrupt. Appreciate your partner by allowing them to finish whatever it is they have to say. Don’t finish your partners’ sentences. Don’t judge or criticize what they are saying — allow them to get it off their chest. Don’t let your mind wander off to something you need to be doing tomorrow.

  • A couple of Do’s. Do learn to actively listen to each other without letting your thinking brain wander off to some internal conversation with yourself. Do use the words “thank you” and “you’re welcome”, and “I appreciate”. They will go a long way to strengthen your relationship as well. It shows respect and courtesy for one another.

  • Being a team player is also about being very present and listening to your partner. Really, just learn to listen. Precaution, it can be easy to allow yourself to get caught up in the emotion of the message instead of listening to what the messenger is saying, which might then skew the reality of what is actually being said, creating a misunderstanding. Also, if one of you is more dramatic about your telling of the day’s story, allow it. It’s OK. It doesn’t mean you have to be too.

  • Here’s another important key to a great relationship. When things are not going so well for your partner, let them know in ways that make sense to them that you are 100% there for them. It’s really easy to say something like, “I really appreciate how difficult this time must be for you right now or how you must be feeling right now and I want to let you know I support you all the way. Is there anything I can do to help?” Say it even if it isn’t reciprocated. We often say these things in our heads, but rarely say them out loud to others. It’s not expensive and doesn’t make you weak or less. It is a human kindness, a behavior that will come back to you when you least expect it and perhaps need it most.

  • Make time for a real date night or whole day together once a week if possible or at least once a month. Creating a date night can be a really creative process. Take turns planning the dates. If it’s your turn to dream up the date, find something your partner has really been interested in doing. This could wind up being something you have little or no real interest in yourself. Your pleasure will partially come from knowing you have surprised and pleased your partner and it may be more surprisingly pleasurable for you as well. It could be as simple as allowing your partner to sleep late on a weekend, doing brunch somewhere or cooking his/her favorite breakfast at home, taking a walk in the park, seeing a movie, etc. Or it could be something more extravagant like a real dress up night out with dinner and dancing or seeing an opera, show or play. Maybe there is a lecture or something at one of the museums that would be interesting. Take the time to find out what your partner’s fantasy of a great date is. Then plan to make it happen. It’s an interesting challenge. Yes, you have to put yourself out, but you are a team after all and next month it’s your turn to be spoiled. If you want to help keep your relationship growing and healthy give it a try. It works!

    Next week’s blog will deal with creating a plan of action for both you as a team and you individually. Having these strategies and tactics will strengthen and help sustain and grow both your personal and team goals. It’s giving yourself permission to have balance within all aspects of your life. Until then. Ciao.

Carol Kirkpatrick

For as long as she can remember, singing and performing have always been in Carol Kirkpatrick’s blood. From her beginnings in a small farming town in southeastern Arizona, through her early first-place triumph at the prestigious San Francisco Opera Auditions, and subsequent career on international stages, Ms. Kirkpatrick has thrilled audiences and critics alike. “A major voice, one worth the whole evening.” (The New York Times) Since retiring from the stage, she continues to be in demand as a voice teacher, clinician, and adjudicator of competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  Combining her knowledge of performance, business, and interpersonal skills, she has written the second edition of her highly regarded book, Aria Ready: The Business of Singing, a step-by-step career guide for singers and teachers of singing.  Aria Ready has been used by universities, music conservatories and summer and apprentice programs throughout the world as a curriculum for teaching Ms. Kirkpatrick’s process of career development, making her “the” expert in this area.  She lives in Denver, Colorado.