I meet her for an hour once a week and we give feedback on each other’s writing. It’s been a wonderful experience – I’m sure made better by what an awesome person she is – and I’ve been thinking about how much it has to teach us about relationships.

Accountability

It forces me to work on a project that means a lot to me. I have a weekly deadline. I can’t get out of it without making excuses. Sometimes the best way to keep moving is to put the work in, week after week.

When it comes to your relationship, instead of waiting for inspiration to make it happen, what do you need to schedule and follow through on week after week?

Commitment

I make time every week to go through her writing a few times and take notes. It’s been pretty easy because she’s writing a compelling piece of non-fiction (it seems a little unfair that I’m forcing her to read a self-help book, but she agreed, I swear). It still takes time and undivided attention though.

When it comes to your relationship, what commitment of time and energy do you need to make to each other?

Mutual Vulnerability

Sending her my writing feels vulnerable, especially because I’m sending it for a critique. What makes it a little bit easier is knowing she has to expose herself just as much as I do. It won’t do either of us good if we hold back. The more we are willing to show, the greater the opportunity for us to grow as writers.

When it comes to your relationship, how can you make yourselves more vulnerable to each other? In a mutual way?

Assuming the Best

I would never in a million years do this if I didn’t believe it would make my manuscript better and make me a stronger writer. The growing pains you experience when you get feedback and have to tackle all of the edits, big and small, are worth it when you believe the final product is going to be better than if you did it in isolation.

When it comes to your relationship, what feedback do you need to seek out from your partner that – although possibly hard to hear – would make you a better partner and your relationship stronger in the end?

Mindfulness of Feelings

Giving critical feedback to someone you care about and respect is tricky. You have to regard their piece of writing as an offering – yes, they wrote it but it’s not the sum total of who they are as a writer. Some weeks you send pure gold and other weeks you send a mess (though all messes have good stuff in them). As long as you are honest and kind, most people are able to hear all sorts of feedback.

When it comes to your relationship, where do you need to be more mindful and gentle with your criticisms, complaints, or grievances?

Okay, that’s a lot. What if you pick just one of these areas and apply it to your relationship? You could work on one little corner and when that feels solid, select another one to tackle. That’s the work. Little by little. One tiny practice or mindset shift after another until we have the deep, meaningful relationships we all desire.