Chris Kyle has found a delicious paradox: That when he is living boldly into his purpose, with all the triumphs and failures, his relationship with his wife thrives.
David Deida (author of Way of the Superior Man) wrote, “Admit to yourself that if you had to choose one or the other, the perfect intimate relationship or achieving your highest purpose in life, you would choose to succeed at your purpose. Just this self-knowledge often relieves much pressure a man feels to prioritize his relationship when, in fact, it is not his highest priority.”
I read it and thought…“Do I have to choose one OVER the other? My marriage is my priority!”
And then another voice in my head… “You know it’s true. You could not turn my back on your highest purpose. You would make that choice.”
Clearly there’s a conflict running inside me regarding how I prioritize living my purpose as a man, and where I place my relationship.
As I look at my life to investigate this question of the priority of purpose, I see that I am most alive, engaged, and passionate when I’m doing what I love, giving my gifts and bringing my purpose forward to serve others. And if I decided to choose my relationship OVER living fully into my purpose, I think a part of me would die. And I know that my power and confidence would be diminished in the world.
And at the end of the day, I don’t want living my purpose to hurt or damage my relationship with my wife. I know that I can give my full presence and heart to my relationship without sacrificing my purpose. Because that is the relationship we’ve created—on purpose—and consciously.
The real juice and fire in our relationship comes from me making bold choices to follow my heart and gut and give my gifts, living my purpose with passion and without apology. And my wife finds this super sexy and is proud of me even during the times I am putting my purpose work above our relationship time.
The paradox is that living boldly into my purpose, with all the triumphs and failures, my relationship thrives.
And of course, my purpose as I shared it above applies to my wife as well (she’s a “being” too), and so I can be in my purpose through supporting her on her path of growth, supporting her to live into HER fullest purpose in the world.
What I hear from many men I work with is that they are trying so hard to make their relationships work or please their partners that everything else falls away. They work so hard to create a more harmonious and “easy” life, and then wind up feeling dead inside. And unsurprisingly, their relationships usually die also.
The challenge of putting relationship above the full expression of purpose, is that it diminishes the energy, fire and confidence that could infuse the relationship with much needed passion and richness.
So here’s how I have learned to hold this priority tension between relationship and purpose. I give my full presence, attention and heart to my relationship whenever we are together. I am not half-there or checked out because I’m thinking about work, or half-listening to her because my purpose work is invading my thoughts and it’s THE PRIORITY.
Rather, when I’m engaged in my purpose work, I’m there fully and making that a priority in my life even if it means making some difficult choices about the time I spend with my wife. A natural balance arises when I am passionately engaged in my purpose and I can bring that juice and fire into my relationship with full presence and an open heart — regardless of how much time we have with each other (days or minutes).
And you know, I still reserve the right to make my relationship the focus of my purpose at any given time if it needs it and demands more of me for a period of time. How’s that for a slick caveat. It’s been true at specific times in my life, and the beauty of conscious relationship is that purpose will always be part of the conversation. Purpose isn’t, after all, a fixed point in space and time. It’s a flow, a calling, an inspiration … and a whole lot of choices.
Keep working your purpose edge, bring full presence to each moment, keep your heart open and you’ll see your life soar… in both your purpose AND your relationship. And if you’re a man looking to explore purpose in a much deeper way in your life—check out the Man on Purpose Course, starting April 17th.
Photo: Roberto Tim / flickr