Making It Work: How Creative Couples Survive The Common Hurdles That Trip Others Up

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While the divorce rate is high for the general population, and is even higher for a second marriage, the rates are even higher for those with a creative nature and personality, especially those who make their living based on their art form. Think of all the failed relationships of your favorite actors in Hollywood, your favorite musicians, or your favorite artistic couple. Is it that their split is more public? That is partly, true, but unfortunately, their split is also more common. So, stacks the deck against a couple, and what can be done to try and avoid these same pitfalls and nurture these relationships?

Dr. Ichak Adizes makes an important point when he wrote about creativity and intimacy being incompatible. He stated, “Because energy is fixed. And being creative requires lots and lots of energy. Little if any is left for interpersonal relations; marriage requires work. Intimacy is not free; it takes energy to maintain it.” There is a theory that we use in my chronic illness community, that I feel applies to many things, it is called the “Spoon Theory.” The Spoon Theory postulates that each of us starts the day with a handful of spoons, and each of these spoons represents a certain amount of energy and effort. Each thing that we must do, or choose to do each day is a certain number of units of energy. So, in rare disease, people really must pick and choose where they are going to exert that energy, but the same can be said for all people, and for relationships especially. If you are creative, and working on your chosen skill takes a certain amount of your energy, you should be vigilant to leave enough energy every day to dedicate to your relationship. It is choosing to divide things up in a way that matters and prioritizes.

Another major issue is jealousy. If you have two creative people, and especially two creative people who practice in the same medium, jealousy is a common issue. If one partner starts to achieve a level of success that the other has not yet been able to achieve, it is a very human emotion to feel pangs of jealousy, but it is also a very destructive feeling to have between the two of you. Jealousy can eat away at the foundation of even the strongest relationship, and it is unfair to your partner to not support them and let them bask in the glow of their hard-fought success. Worse, for them to feel like they cannot share each of their successes with you, out of fear that they will hurt your feelings. There is a Buddhist concept known as “Mudita,” that I have discussed before. It is learning to cultivate your ability to appreciate the joy, success, and good fortune of others, simply in genuine support and happiness for them. It is unselfish joy, and a feeling of contentment in their good fortune, no matter what your personal circumstance. Developing this skill not only enhances all areas of your own life, but truly strengthens the creative relationship.

Another important factor to keep in mind is simply, time. Time together, balance in how much time you dedicate to each area of your life, and knowing the difference of what is and is not worth your time. It allows you to make both your creative work, and your personal relationship a priority. While you may need to be away from home more often than many relationships can tolerate, make sure to keep in frequent contact, and let them know you are thinking of them and miss them. When you are home, try and make the most of your time together. Let your partner know how much they were missed, and how glad you are that you can have this time with them. While it feels important, and it is, to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to your craft, make sure there is time in that day dedicating to cultivating your relationship as well.

While these couples will face the obstacles that I have talked about couples facing many times in the past, these are struggles that can be especially prevalent in creative relationships. Attend to these issues and each other, and you will be far ahead from the average couple. Keep the lines of communication open, and be sure to always attack the issue and not each other. Let your partner know when you feel like things are slipping out of balance, and have solutions to how you might fix the issue instead of just pointing out problems.

People are much more open to hearing someone come from a solution-focused, vs problem-focused perspective. I know, personally, and have worked with, many creative couples that have let these issues implode their relationships, as well as couples who make their relationships work beautifully because they have really made a point to incorporate these philosophies as part of their lives. It is up to you to decide what kind of relationship you want.

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