When we’re not happy with ourselves, it’s hard to be happy with someone else. You have the power to help your partner achieve a greater sense of personal satisfaction, which will in turn, make your relationship better.
Take Jim and Ryan.
Jim always considered himself a musician. Since he was a teenager, most of his dreams have revolved around playing his guitar in front of hoards of people who want nothing more than to see him rock out. When he was younger, he practiced often and played in a band. He loved it. Playing music was, as Jim put it, “being the best version of myself.”
Now, he feels his dreams have been thwarted. He’s 35 years old. He works as a server administrator for the U.S. Postal Service. His wife, Ryan, is terrific, but their life is hard. They don’t have a lot of extra cash on-hand, and they have two young children (both girls—ages two and five).
Two months ago, Ryan observed that the day-to-day grind was beginning to take a toll on Jim. He stopped playing and making music. He seemed down and bummed-out, so she suggested a “band reunion” at their house of his old college band, which hadn’t played together in years.
Jim’s friends drove in from out of town, camped in their yard and all spent the weekend kicking it in the garage. Ryan watched the kids most of the weekend and organized a lot of logistics, including inviting friends to attend a final concert at the end of the weekend.
For Jim, the mini-Coachella was magical and transformative. He started to see new possibilities for his current life, and that optimism improved things at home with Ryan.
What made this metamorphosis happen? Psychologists refer to it as the Michelangelo Phenomenon. The Michelangelo Phenomenon (MP) describes the way in which partners are able to help each other realize the ideal version of themselves. The artist, Michelangelo, said that for him, sculpting was a process of revealing the hidden beauty that rested in a hunk of marble. What he did with stone, you can do with your significant other.
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