Marriage: Life expansion without compromise

I come from a place of believing that marriage can be a place to grow, do and be. It can be a place of expansion for both parties.

I had an earlier marriage where over a ten-year period my life and dreams became smaller and smaller, and so did those of my wife…so I know the difference.

I see around me both expanding relationships and shrinking ones. When some let their dreams go and the future seems dim, boredom and addiction often enter the picture. As you pursue and realize your dreams, you forbid petty addictions to interfere. Loss of hope is not an option.

What I came to understand over the years is that a good marriage has little room for compromise. Compromise tends to lead to a shrunken life.

The life shakeup and marriage

Eileen and I connected at Guelph University where we both worked as teachers. I had tenure (high security, no mobility.) She, however, was moving 500 km away the next week to run a research lab for the federal government in Ottawa. But in that week, we had an instant connection: we were in a long-term relationship with each other.

Eileen’s move was the boost I needed to pursue my dream of being in business. I quietly prepared and a year later resigned my post, moved to Ottawa and enrolled in an MBA program. We married. That was 1980.

A compromise? Not at all! In the process of the changes, our lives individually flourished beyond expectation and our marriage deepened.

Art School

In 1984 Eileen admitted to both herself and me that what she really wanted to do was pursue her art, which meant a return to university. It seemed impossible because my consulting business had not yet taken off and it was her earnings that were supporting us and our three teens.

I encouraged her to apply anyway and she did. She was accepted. September 1 she left her job and started in her Bachelor of Fine Arts program. It was gutsy, because we only had enough money to get us through September and I had no contract.

We went on trust that something would come. I got a call September 1 and soon started on what turned out to be a very lucrative and fun 7-month contract. Once again, our lives expanded.

First Nations Work

By 1993, I had closed up a successful real estate business in Toronto and resumed private practice in psychology. Eileen was an established artist in Southern Ontario.

Then I got a "knowing" that I had to work with First Nations People. With Eileen’s encouragement, I began a telephone exploration of opportunities in Northern Ontario.

After a few weeks, Eileen realized she was uneasy about Northern Ontario, because, as she put it, "You might like it and then I will never get back to the west coast." I blurted out my surprise with something like, "You really do want to live on the west coast!"

I switched my focus to opportunities for work with First Nations in BC. Three weeks later, we were in BC exploring possibilities. A month after that, with my practice closed and our house emptied, we were in a moving truck heading west. I got to work in a First nations Village for five years and Eileen got to the coast.

Writing and Teaching

When that came to an end we moved to Qualicum Beach, where I opened my dream practice and began to write. Eileen established herself as a west-coast artist. She teaches at arts guilds all over Vancouver Island and the lower mainland.

Again, without compromise, we both got what we wanted in spades and our relationship flourishes. 28 years this month!

Exercise some creativity to avoid compromise and your married life will grow and thrive as you pursue your dreams.

Dr. Neill Neill, Registered Psychologist, Comprehensive Energy Psychology, helps capable people who feel stuck… trauma, relationships, addictions.