More than a few years ago, someone told me and my ex-husband that the purpose of being and having a partner was to bear witness to one another’s life. When she said it, I didn’t give it a ton of thought. It was a hmm moment, and then I don’t think I thought much more about it. More than a few years down the road from when I first heard that comment, it hit me.
I was talking to said ex-husband and during the conversation, I remember, thinking, “Wow. This man does not know me or my life anymore.”
It goes beyond just not knowing what’s going on, but it’s the lifestyle, the daily players in your life, the current goals, just everything. After my divorce, my entire life changed. My lifestyle, my daily routine, my goals, my values, my mindset- all of it. The way I did life changed. It’s amazing how someone who so intimately knew those things once, suddenly doesn’t. Or maybe not so suddenly.
Anyway, maybe all that is a whole other post. The point of this one is, that not too long ago, my current partner and I were talking. And it just hit me like, oh. This is what it means to bear witness to someone’s life. This is the privilege of partnership. It’s not just knowing those details of daily life of the other. It is the deep honor of witnessing another’s life experiences, suspending judgement, being a loving support, a safe space, holding space for them, and mutual vulnerability.
It’s also practicing vulnerability and speaking our truth. Learning our truth, being our true selves, and exploring that. I have learned so much about this through my current partnership and I’m so grateful. I sometimes wonder if those comments so long ago were a seed planted so I could recognize this.
A colleague and I were discussing partnership and the value of it a couple weeks ago. It goes deeper than a playmate or a companion. It is someone to truly bear witness to your life experiences and for you to bear witness to as well. And I think it’s a challenge- you have to be vulnerable and intentional and ensure that you are taking good care of yourself in order to truly be a partner to yours.
Kareem and I were talking about partnership too recently. And equity in partnership and gender and gender roles and all kinds of deep stuff that I love talking to him about. I mentioned that I felt like I was solely responsible for certain things- namely, meals. In response to this, he made dinner that night. And not only that, but he has made me feel heard and respected over and over again. It didn’t end with dinner that night. It has been a conscientious effort to check in and ensure that we feel like things are better balanced. That responsiveness is truly witnessing and hearing another then reflecting and responding. That’s partnership.
It’s wonderful, it’s easy and it’s not. I’m learning a ton and I’m grateful.
**Also I want to clarify- this is in NO way commentary on my marriage or my ex-husband. I am not saying he was NOT a partner. This is just my current perspective on partnership.