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5 things I wish I knew about relationships before I got married

Author Scott Galloway once wrote: “If I can give one piece of advice to people in their twenties, it’s to find someone better than you and convince them to marry you.” At least I got that part right. Kim is my best asset, my wife, my partner in life and our business.

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Søren Kierkegaard, Philosopher.

As Kim and I celebrated a decade of marriage earlier this year, I found myself reflecting on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of our marital union. Wishing I knew what I know now when I asked her to marry me. It’s a fascinating, although sometimes painful, irony that we often wish we knew what we know now. I guess that’s what we call growth and I truly believe that if you don’t look back and cringe at your past actions, you perhaps haven’t grown much at all. I can certainly attest to many such cringes, marking my growth with each wince.

That being said, it doesn’t mean we couldn’t all use a little help along the way. Plus, Kim and I are in the business of supporting others to bring the best out of their relationships and themselves. So here are five things about relationships I wish I’d known when I got down on bended knee.

1. If You Are Not Growing Together, You Are Growing Apart

Change is a constant companion. We evolve daily as individuals and with the passage of time, those days morph into weeks, months, years and even decades. I am far from the person I was five, let alone ten years ago. I aim to be a different person in another five years – and I am putting in the work to be that person right now. Life is a continuous journey of change and evolution. As we navigate through different stages of life – changing careers, raising children, growing older – our world views and our personal identities shift. If we don’t deliberately align our paths as a couple during these changes, we risk straying apart. If we neglect to continually rediscover our partners as they change and evolve, those small gaps can turn into yawning chasms over the years.

For Kim and I, regular meaningful conversations, mutual curiosity, shared dreams and action ensure that we’re growing together, not apart.

2. Your Partner is Your Biggest Asset

Marriage introduces a fulltime wingman (or wingwoman) to your corner, someone who brings a unique set of skills, abilities and perspectives to the table. Yet, we often live as if we alone can effect change or make a difference. Recognising the value of your partner can transform your marriage. Did you choose to get married to share a habitat and procreate? Or did you see something special in that person, how their strengths complemented your weaknesses, how they brought out things in you that made you a better person?

Author Scott Galloway once wrote: “If I can give one piece of advice to people in their twenties, it’s to find someone better than you and convince them to marry you.” At least I got that part right. Kim is my best asset, my wife, my partner in life and our business. She drives me to achieve things I never thought possible.

Recognising your partner’s strength, leaning on them and harnessing their abilities can significantly enhance your chances of success in anything you put your minds to, together.

3. Being a Good Partner is Something to Aspire to

Men, speaking as one myself, strive to be good at “things”, to master skills, to achieve – it’s a source of validation and purpose. Craft arrow, hunt mammoth, make fire, eat food. Is good. Yet, it seems somewhat socially offbeat to aspire to be a good husband, despite it requiring a slew of mastered skills like communication, agile thinking, time management and the ever-elusive skill of understanding women (well, one woman, and that is impressive enough). To me, being a good partner is indeed an accomplishment to be proud of, and something to continuously work toward with the highest level of intent.

4. Good Relationships Take Hard Work

Renowned relationship therapist Esther Perel states, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships.”

And yet, there continues to exist a peculiar societal stigma suggesting that good relationships should be easy. The problem here is that when we inevitably find that they are not, we start to question the relationship instead of problem-solving, taking accountability and rolling up our sleeves to make change.

Why, in almost every other aspect of life, is hard work then admired?

Nothing worthwhile comes without effort. Similarly, a good relationship requires time, energy and effort. Kim and I are deliberate and proactive in the work we do on our relationship. We are proactive and try to never take a “she’ll be right” approach to our relationship. We are proud of the 21 years of hard work we have put into “us”.

Plus, the ROI we’ve reaped far outweighs our invested efforts.

5. You Get to Set Your Own Path

Remember when you were young and longed to be a grown-up, hoping people would stop telling you what to do and who to be?

But as you grew older, the voices dictating your actions and identity not only didn’t stop, they grew louder. Before you know it, you are at your work desk crouched over a laptop waiting on the accommodation booking queue for Rottnest, drinking your fourth coffee and hoping your boss doesn’t walk past asking where the Penske file is.

Kim and I recognised that whenever society (or friends, family or school parent groups) is dictating what your life, your future, your dreams should look like – you are unlikely to find fulfilment.

In 2018, we wrote our own rule book when we decided to move to Japan to live and work in a ski village, eschewing the expected ‘2.5 kids with a white picket fence in a leafy suburb’ narrative. We realised that trying to follow someone else’s path wouldn’t lead to our fulfillment. So, we chose the path less trodden, one that resonated with our values and dreams and it has made all the difference.

We haven’t looked back since.

Head to your fave podcast app and tune into the latest episode of Living the Team Life to hear relationship conversations by real people, for real people.

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To learn more about Kim & Rog's story and what inspired them to start their podcast.