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On Trust and Partnership

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Photo by lauren lulu taylor on Unsplash

A while back (over four years ago, actually), I wrote about using the word partner rather than husband. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the meaning of being a part of a couple, a family, or a group.

The word part, in English, comes from the root *pere- which means ‘to grant, allot’. It’s related to the idea of sharing. Interestingly, the verb ‘to part’ means to divide. So, technically, a partnership can be thought of as a division: of labour, property, and resources. I like that meaning because that’s exactly what being a part of something bigger than yourself means: someone to share the work with, but also to share resources with.

A good partnership also allows you to share your ideas, thoughts and emotions. Being a true partner means supporting other group members (the group can consist of two or more people) in what they want to do. It means being a cheerleader for other members. It also means you can share your thoughts without worrying about getting shot down. That doesn’t mean we don’t give feedback to each other. But we do it in a way that helps the other member(s) grow, accepting that the other person has made themselves vulnerable by sharing something.

What’s interesting to me is that this describes my relationship with my life partner. But it can also describe my relationship with my writing partners: my writers’ group and writing buddies. I have several writing partners, and my relationship with each is a bit different because, obviously. But these relationships also have something in common: we share our ideas and thoughts, we support each other, we give each other feedback, and we learn from each other.

Sometimes a group can be *not* a partnership. If I can’t trust that I can share something without being ridiculed or excluded, that’s not a partnership. Sharing your ideas and your emotions is scary, especially if you previously experienced being excluded after sharing something with someone. It takes guts to spill your guts. But, as cliche as it is, the reward is feeling a part of a whole, something bigger than yourself. It’s feeling like you have true partners on your journey, and that’s priceless.


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