That’s a long time to spend with one person…in close quarters…come hell or high water. A l-o-n-g time.
People often comment on how we still seem so much in love (we are), what great role models we are (thank you), and that perhaps we ought to teach a class on marriage (hmmm, no).
So many things could have undermined our marriage, illness and death being two of the biggies. Economic challenges, career challenges, moves, and extended family issues are all things that can eat away at a relationship.
Just as they can eat away at your relationship with your creative work.
So here are five (by no means all) things I’ve learned about marriage that are also key to an enduring relationship with your Muse:
1. Commit wholeheartedly. If you want an enduring relationship—with your partner or your creativity—don’t bring conditions to it. Don’t commit for a month or a year or until it is challenging or uncomfortable. Bring everything you have to it. Everything.
2. Communicate regularly, even if only you do the talking. Often in a relationship, one partner is more verbal than the other. So, take responsibility, even if it feels uncomfortable or scary, to share hopes, joys, concerns, and inspirations—even if you have to follow the other out of the room. And be aware if you need to be the one who sits down and really listens. Don’t make your Muse chase you.
3. Be patient. Growth in individuals, relationships, and creative projects takes time. We’d all love for things to move quickly and perfectly but they usually don’t. Sometimes they even move backwards. Be patient in small things as well as big ones. Be patient if words don’t flow onto the screen. Be patient if the agent didn’t get back to you in two weeks or two months. Be patient if your Muse hasn’t delivered the next idea by your plucked-out-of-the-air deadline. Consider it a creative’s spiritual practice.
4. Take time for each other. And by that, I mean take time for really being with each other to play, enjoy, relax, engage, imagine. Go on regular vacations where the focus is on just being with each other and re-igniting the passions that brought you together. It doesn’t all have to be about work.
5. Forgive each other for failing. This is a biggie. HUGE. Really. Forgiveness is key to an enduring relationship. No one is perfect, even if you intend to be. You will fail in ways big and small to fulfill the hopes and expectations of your partner. And vice versa. So when the ideas don’t come, the story isn’t flowing, or you’ve gotten your 20th rejection letter, forgive your Muse and forgive yourself.
Use these marriage tips with your Muse and you’ll be celebrating anniversaries of first publication, first exhibit, first payment for your work, and other creative events.
And your marriage to your Muse will endure.