I used to think entering a relationship would hold me back in life. As someone who is entrepreneurial and purpose driven, the thought of losing focus, steam and direction terrified me and made me avoid relationships for as long as I could. That was before I fully understood, that relationships can either be enablers or disablers. In other words, a right fit in a relationship will enable you, a wrong fit can disable. There are different types of relationships but I am referring to marriage, where two people have the intention of spending their lives together, a relationship of enormous significance.
An enabling relationship is a relationship that provides the right environment, pressures and support that help two people grow into who they were meant to be. They can influence where you end up in life so it's important to discern between an enabling relationship and a disabling one.
Even a small shift of a rudder has a significant effect on the direction and destination of a ship, why? Because the rudder is an enabler, its role is to enable the ship to get from point A to B, it requires careful handling. How much more your life? Where are you going? Who are you steering with?
Here are 3 characteristics of enabling relationships that will help you take a pulse of the relationship you are in or contemplating entering into. These characteristics should be assessed in light of others as well as yourself.
You have the same wind in your sail
Enabling relationships enjoy a commonality, a togetherness and agreement about the winds you will let blow you. You can call them values, and you will both agree on fundamental values and principles that set and keep your ship at sail. If you are not in an enabling relationship, try and ask questions to better understand where the other stands. What do they believe? What are their hopes and dreams? What are they willing to sacrifice? What are they willing to save? Sharing the same values could never be more important to know than when setting out to sail in life.
In 1981, there was the famous Rolo advert where a girl eating a packet of rolos decided to give her last Rolo to the boy he likes. This advert spurred a viral question, "would you share your last Rolo?" While funny, the sentiment of the Rolo advert is right, it pulls on chords that force the viewer to ask would I do that? Would you? Sharing is central to an enabling relationship that helps both people become who they were meant to be. It should open up and give access to resources to both people when needed most. Enabling relationships lead you to a place where you are challenged to share out of lack, not just abundance. This is not easy, but being someone who is willing to share is key to making the journey worthwhile and easier, even if it's your last Rolo.
You can correct each other in truth and love
Every day, we make decisions or act in ways that are not the wisest. Not everyone will mention our errors, but an enabling relationship will call out errors, correct them and assist in our improvement. Honesty is crucial, it's a huge safety net for any relationship. On the other hand, it is important to discern the motives and emotion behind correction and where it is coming from. Are they being fielded by care and love or by negative emotions like jealousy or envy? Be aware - the latter will be detrimental, emphasising your mistakes rather than routes to change.
Returning to our ship analogy, life on the seas is never plain sailing. It takes work and while a fun adventure, you will come against storms. If you are steering the rudder in the wrong direction, you want to know you have a voice that will tell you the truth in love. Life is an adventure but comes with many pressures and challenging trials. You will both make mistakes so choose the voice that tells you when you're wrong, why and how to be better with your interest at heart.
Marriage is a partnership that requires two people to enable each other. It is a relationship that banks on the other taking great care in the role and influence they have in steering the rudder because you are both on the same ship.
Author - ANTHONY O-THOMAS