You can become independent by loving someone? Sounds completely ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, it’s absolutely true. But sadly, modern culture has embraced the insidious lie of self-sufficiency.
The truth is that if you want to have stability, strength, and success in your life, then you need to form loving, committed relationships. There’s just no getting around that need. Pure and honest love and acceptance is as vital to our well-being as oxygen. Love and support fills us with the necessary confidence to accomplish great things. And marriage can be one of the most powerful suppliers of love and support.
In her book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Dr. Sue Johnson wrote about the independence and power that comes from love:
“The more we reach out to our partners, the more separated and independent we can be. Although this flies in the face of our culture’s creed of self-sufficiency, psychologist Brooke Feeney of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found exactly that in observations of 280 couples. Those who felt that their needs were accepted by their partners were more confident about solving problems on their own and were more likely to successfully achieve their own goals.“
Let me give you a personal example. I have always wanted to write and publish books. It’s been a dream of mine since I was seven. I’ve had stories, ideas, and characters positively swimming through my mind for as long as I can remember. Oftentimes, I’ll go for drives and act out entire fictional scenes that I’ve written in my mind (just one of my many, many, may quirks).
Despite my obvious passion for writing and storytelling, I had never felt confident with publishing anything. Oh sure, I dabbled here and there with blogging, but I never took it seriously because I lacked faith in myself.
…until I got married.
You see, Kim listened to my ideas—and what’s more, she liked them. Not only that, she encouraged me to write my thoughts and pursue every avenue to publish them. Shortly after we were married, we moved to San Francisco. I found an internship at a publishing company (an unpaid internship in $an Franci$co, mind you!) and she encouraged me to apply—something I never would have tried on my own.
Reluctantly, I applied for the position, fully believing that more qualified individuals would be accepted. But to my absolute shock, I got the internship. While there, I learned a great deal about writing, publishing, and “starting movements.” I started writing more, created ForwardWalking.com, and met with individuals who would—almost a year later—extend book contracts to me. In a very real way, my blogpost, Marriage Isn’t for You—which has been read by 30 million people and translated into nearly twenty languages—was successful because my wife loved and supported me.
Indeed, since getting married, I’ve never been more successful, more independent, or more myself.
But love and support isn’t only available through marriage. For years, I worked at a wilderness therapy program with at-risk youth who were struggling with anger, depression, eating disorders, or addictions to drugs. But as we got to know the youth, we soon learned that their real struggle was much deeper than their surface behaviors. Without exception, all of them were struggling with love. Somewhere, somehow, someway, they had felt disconnected from love and were fighting to find it. Whenever one of them truly felt—and personally accepted—love and support from others, they began to change for the better.
If you want to improve the quality of your life—if you want to feel more confident, independent, and successful—improve your relationships. Seek reconciliation, offer support to another, and learn to love people. I promise you that whatever love you send out will return to you tenfold. Because as Dr. Sue Johnson said, “Secure connection to a loved one is empowering.”
**Special thanks to Preston Walker M.S., MFTI for sharing these quotes with me.