Reciprocity as Success

Brene Brown is phenomenal at articulating the problems we are struggling with in our families and communities.  Part of her work addresses the spirituality of relationships. Here is her stab at defining what it means to live spiritually:



Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.  
Braving The Wilderness, p. 45


From my perspective, success is just a series of developmentally predictable distractions and chasing after shiny objects without framing it within the bounds of spirituality.  In particular, I love her definition. I believe her insights provide us with some light unto our paths of walking in love. In trying to determine a working definition of success for a spiritual community, I’m going to pick this sentence apart in the hopes that we find both inspiration and some practical steps to take a individuals, families and tribes.


#1. Recognizing…  Spirituality is an inspired way of seeing that requires us to recognize unseen things.  It compels us to look beneath the surface of a thing.


As marriages go, Pete and I do not have a ton of conflict but I am not so sure we were particularly competent at recognizing the spirituality of marriage until we got some coaching.  Early on in our marriage we unintentionally competed. We competed for attention, time (alone or together), winning at stuff. I have some understanding now of why we did this. But at the time, I didn’t really think much about the way we related one way or another except when I was unhappy about a decision.  When that occurred, I thought a lot about how Pete was to blame. One weekend we went on a marriage retreat. I heard one sentence that changed everything for me, “When your spouse wins, you win.” Ahhhhh...I got it. Just to be clear, I was not in an abusive, narcissistic, unhappy, troubled marriage. There weren’t red flags of neglect or disrespect.  We just didn’t have a lot of experience in loving well. But on that night I saw it: we were married. We would win and lose as one. It behooved me to help him win at life and vice versa. We needed to figure out where the “big win” was in every situation for both of us. This would mean that once in awhile a win for one might require the other to FEEL as if they were giving something up. (Pete could play golf on a Saturday and I could feel a little stuck at home with the kids after a long week of being home with the kids while he worked out of town might be one example.  But that might be a big win for both of us if he came home relaxed and ready to be fully present for the rest of the weekend.) But we chose to work hard to practice reciprocity so that overall, at the end of a long and mostly happy marriage, we would both feel like the two luckiest married people on the planet. And I do feel that way.


To be continued...