If you’ve been here before, you might have noticed him. Tall, dark and handsome; there’s a recurring character in many of our photos, a man also credited for much of the photography itself. He’s my partner, and he too is a writer. We’re two creative-minded individuals, fostering each other’s individual work as well as collaborating on new projects together.
As eye-opening and incredible as our partnership is, I will say that two like minds does not always a happy home make. Working and existing within any kind of creative work – from writing to music to filmmaking – requires an intense, unrelenting amount of self assurance. It requires that one be both open and stubborn, acting with conviction as well as curiosity. To share such a world with another person, who’s opinion is of the utmost important, can convolute projects and result in hurt feelings, even sometimes creating jealousy about how time and devotion is dolled out. I want to talk, he wants to research…
So how can it be successful? Is there an easy to way to live with an artist? After five years, four cities, three countries, two websites, three short films and a world of possibility ahead of us, here are the practices that keep us sane, independent yet connected, and on a positive, productive path as a couple.
How to Live with an Artist:
The Fundamentals of Creative Cohabitation
1. Respect each other’s creative space.
Even when you have priorities and objectives in mind you’d like accomplished, it’s important to always respect the space and needs of another creative mind. You might want help with the laundry, but she/he might be in the middle of an awakening or surrender in their work. There is nothing more dispiriting than being pulled from a productive moment in your own work to take care of someone else’s wants.
As a rule, we do not disturb each other when one of us is in a good space for creation, and we do not attach emotions to being pushed out of each other’s awareness during that time. I cannot feel happy for fulfilled if I do not feel good about my work, so in his respecting my creative space, he is ultimately respecting me.
2. Don’t take things personally
It took many years until I found the courage to tell myself I was loved and lovable, rather than need the constant reassurance from my partner. When he is involved in a new project, he has less energy, devotion and adoration to offer me. The same goes for my work and his emotional insecurities. Neither of us can take it personally when the other needs to devote themselves wholly to producing their best work. Coming to terms with this has not only allowed us to become better writers and artists, but also more self-sufficient and less needy. And as we say in the HerAfter Lifestyle Guide: “you are infinitely easier to love when you aren’t pitying yourself.”
The artist’s life has its pitfalls. There are times when putting out such personal forms of expression and aspiration can lead to heartbreak (when your work isn’t received well by your readers, for example), and there’s been many times I’ve allowed fear to overwhelm me. A professional failure can easily bleed into one’s personal life. My partner and I have learned to not take moments of weakness like this personally, because it’s all part of the process. Sometimes a break down can lead to a break through, and if he were to be offended when I say “I just can’t do this, this is all to hard” as if I was saying “I don’t want this life anymore”, we’d never move forward together. The artist’s life is not always a happy one, but I’m grateful for the chance to feel every emotion possible along the road to a finished product.
3. Be diligent about your own work needs
We share a home and both work from home. If we could, we’d probably spend every waking minute together. Unfortunately, that makes for a very unproductive day. I work best earlier in the morning when the house is quiet. He works best when I’m running errands the middle of the day, and in the evenings when I’m out and he can have the living room to pace around. Whether your work needs are to have a place you can talk out loud, dance, enjoy the silence, or just freak out, be diligent about fulfilling those needs. You may not want to, because being with your partner is so much more fun and comfortable than facing your work, but it’s necessary. You must be as in love with and as committed to your work as you are to your partner. Make the same accommodations for your partner’s work needs as well. As much as we’d like to be together all day, not only would our work suffer but we’d also have nothing new to bring to each other at the end of the day, when it’s time to relax and share our experiences and revelations.
4. Be as supportive as you are impressive
There will be times to support your partner and take a back seat, and vice versa. However, on a consistent basis, intentionally working to impress your partner will go very far in inspiring them and inspiring yourself. It’s one of the key things that has allowed us to push our careers further as well as empower one another from afar.
While I compliment all his work and devotedly offer as much feedback and encouragement as I can, on a daily basis I also try to impress him. It’s not competition with him, it’s more like competition with myself – how great can I be? How much can I do? I want him to be proud to be with me, and I find that every time I offer something for him to be proud of, I realize how proud I am of myself. This is how one person can bring out the best in another; the best is already there, sometimes another person can help you see it.
While writing this, I asked him what he thought was our most successful, influential practice that allowed two such creative types as ourselves to live and work together, and he said very simply: “We give each other space to work. That’s the most important part.” I couldn’t agree more.
Looking for more advice on love and relationships? We’ve got more articles on relationships, including how to know if you’re new love is a lasting love, and even how to fall back in love with your own body. You can see all our articles on love here.
Special thank you to my love, my muse, and my partner, LPK.