The subject of relationships has been an age-old conversation, with movies, books, daily conversations all revolving around finding the right ‘one’ and longing for a soul mate. The emphasis on the ever-lasting conversation of “will I be alone forever?” has both men and women globally, constantly on the search for someone to be in a relationship with. What I think people don’t realise is: it’s never really just about being in a relationship, it’s about being in a healthy relationship, because only then will it be good.
Before saying yes, we need to take a moment to stop and identify what it is we want from our relationship and what exactly we are looking for in our partners
What does a healthy relationship really mean, though? I think most people jump into relationships when they don’t really know what they want out of the relationship; I know I have done that more times than I can count. Before saying yes, we need to take a moment to stop and identify what it is we want from our relationship and what exactly we are looking for in our partners. Questions like “What is important to me?” and “What do I value in a relationship?” are really prerequisites before jumping into any relationship. If you can figure that out, you will be able to figure out if a person really is the right one and if they are compatible with who you are, and more importantly, if that person will make you happy.
For me, being happy meant someone I can communicate with, someone who respected me and my work, someone who can help me become a better version of myself, and ultimately, someone who wanted those same things. Once I found him, it was just a matter of talking all these things out, learning to express how we felt about situations in our relationship, and coming up with a list of guidelines for how we want to manage our relationship.
I began my fashion design business and clothing brand about seven years before I met Hussein, who is now my husband. I had gone through a great deal to figure out how to get my business up and running. When I met Hussein, he was just beginning his own business, a performance training facility with a vision to expand into a place that housed all health and wellness needs for human beings of all walks of life. Our vision became to make it a beacon of hope for everyone. So, when we met, I found myself naturally working with him to grow the business and the brand together into what it is now; a company with four branches around Cairo which offer group training, personal training, mental training, physiotherapy, rehabilitation for injuries, and tailored nutrition services. Of course, to get such a business from concept to four physical locations, and then expand to offer these services through an online platform, all while running my own design business, and then trying to work at being in a healthy relationship, then maintaining that healthy relationship through working together, we found ourselves in quite a tricky situation.
Working together, talking and communicating openly, learning how to have differing opinions, then communicating them gently, and sometimes agreeing to disagree
A lot of people told Hussein and I that we should be very weary of working together, and I get why. It proved to be a great deal of work and quite tricky at times, both at home at in the work place. However, it also proved to be one of the best things we did for our relationship. Working together, talking and communicating openly, learning how to have differing opinions, then communicating them gently, and sometimes agreeing to disagree. We learned how to put boundaries to everyone’s roles and responsibilities, and then to respect those boundaries in times when critical decisions have to be made. In a way, working together helped us also define how to be together in a relationship. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were paving the way for a healthy home life as well.
You see, what we came to understand was this: we have to work at our relationship every day, just like we would at our jobs. We each learned that being in a relationship doesn’t solve our problems. Our problems will be there and I am responsible to work through my own issues and he is responsible for his own issues; we will not save each other. We learned that we need to wake up and choose each other every day, and not take each other for granted. We need to choose our words carefully with how we address our hurt feelings, because hurt should not cause more hurt. Above all, we learned that love isn’t a feeling, it is a choice that is made every single day that eventually leads to an entire state of existence that will bring us both joy.