Linda: Abraham Maslow coined the term self-actualization and defined it as “the desire to become more and more of what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” He also stated that accomplishing the goal of self-actualization brings “profound happiness serenity and richness of the inner life.”
Having a spouse plays a very large role in reaching our goal of self-actualization. When both spouses have self-actualization as a major component of their life ambition, their marriage becomes the arena to strive towards their development to become the best that they can be. Their spoken or unspoken vows include mutually supporting each other toward that desired result.
To evolve psychologically, women have been branching out for decades now to take ownership of the parts of their personality that before Feminism were relegated to the shadow realms. As women own their assertiveness, ambition, aggression, and leadership, they are entering graduate programs, earning degrees and blazing trails into formerly male dominated professions. In a few short decades women have entered the work force first while single, then married, and then even while they have young children at home.
Men too, have owned parts of themselves that were formerly believed to not be in their nature to become sensitive and nurturing. There is a greater involvement with children, getting up with infants at night, changing diapers and tuning into both the needs of their children, but also with the well-being of their partner. Men these days are doing more of the heavy lifting of the requirements for a family to thrive.
Having a partner who will co-create a subculture of two where we pick and choose the guidelines that are tailored to our individual needs and goals, will set a context that is likely to give rise to success. Those communication, collaboration and negotiation skills that are required on an on-going basis to establish who does what with the children and household, can be used for any challenge facing the couple.
Issues around finances, careers, in-laws, sexual pleasure, vacations, etc., are all joint ventures that demand policies and guidelines that work for both members of the couple. The object of each person’s efforts, their values, styles of being in the world, and preferences need to be considered during the negotiations. In the process, each partner is challenged to develop qualities such as patience, persistence, commitment, courage and self-discipline to problem solve and evolve. Every single act of collaboration becomes an opportunity to move the pair towards their goal of self-actualization.
The awareness that one cannot go far without the other motivates them both to remain in dialogue with a spirit of good will until they find a plan that serves them. It is the mutual support, the ongoing collaboration that keeps adding both to the goal the enjoyment of the journey and the realization of the desired results. It may be a demanding process to have to continually co-create, but it is one that has enormous rewards: each partner evolving into the very best that we can be.