Learning to Polish Your Relationship

by David Garten

Aly and Josh, an engaged couple in their early 30s, had dated for four years, just bought a house, and were planning their wedding. Shortly after their engagement they attended one of our first What Matters?! Workshops. In honor of this Valentine's Day, we've invited them to convey some of their key learning as individuals and as a couple. We thank them for sharing their experience.  


Aly and Joshua Greenwood (pictured)

As individuals, they realized: 

  • You can’t go at it alone and luckily you don’t have to. Every person has a different role in your life, as you do for them. The What Matters?! practice of Reach Out includes an exercise that helps you evaluate the people in your life into a more clearly defined support network… organized by strengths and relationships. Acknowledging how your support network can best suit you is a powerful professional and personal life hack!
  • Allow yourself time to think. Aly realized how much negative self-doubt she was harboring and was able to explore techniques to better neutralize it. The Stop and Ask and Reach In practices reinforce that, even if it is just during your commute to work, it’s essential to allow yourself time to think about your life and relationships.
  • We often face universal issues, but each in an individual way. The workshop attendees included people from all walks of life (corporate executives, retirees, teachers, professionals and even a teenager) and everyone brought with them varied insights and unique perspectives. “The group realized they were facing universal issues, but each in their own unique and individualized way,” offers Josh. “This common ground allowed participants to share and support each other in their weekend of self-discovery.  There were a lot of laughs, tons of reflection and even a few tears along the way.”    

Asked to describe their key takeaways as a couple, Aly and Josh share:

  • A healthy relationship is more than just the sum of its parts. Think of it as a separate and complete living breathing entity that requires nurturing. By treating the relationship as a separate entity, each partner can step outside themselves and observe the relationship.  This promotes dialogue without blame and judgement.

  • Even if things feel good, there is no shame in wanting to make them even better. Josh shared, “Just because the car is clean doesn’t mean it couldn’t use a little polish. Every relationship, even when it is in a good place, can use a little tune up.”

  • Communication thrives when people feel safe. “As corny as it sounds, it really does come down to communication,” says Aly. “Do not assume your partner knows what you are thinking.  Share with each other whenever possible as this will help mitigate future relationship tension. We also learned that to really communicate you need to feel safe, respect your partner’s perspective, and be comforted in knowing that they are in your corner and always have your back. When discussing issues you may have your own thoughts and perspectives which can cause conflict, it’s essential to remember you are on the same team and working toward the same goals.”

One of the most important things Aly and Josh took away from the workshop was that establishing traditions as a new family mattered a lot to them. So they spent that Christmas together with just each other. Then, they enjoyed a destination wedding over New Year’s Eve in Puerto Rico with their friends and family.

Today, two years after their workshop, Aly and Josh say they still actively attend to their relationship. They recently welcomed a baby boy to their family. 



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