The year 2020 brought a lot of changes and challenges for many. Working from home and Zoom calls with family and friends instead of holidays and happy hours became the new normal. Restaurants were closed for in-person dining, and entertainment venues halted activities. A slower pace of life developed, and people spent more time at home with family and had to get creative in how they connected with loved ones outside the home.
What challenges did the pandemic bring for you and your relationships? Jay Shetty and his wife, Radhi Devlukia Shetty, sit down to have a raw and vulnerable conversation about navigating their relationship amid a pandemic. They unpack the things they got wrong, the things they did right, and what they learned about each other and themselves along the way.
What is the hardest part of love?
Falling in love is easy. Choosing to stay in love is more complicated. Shetty says that anytime two people spend an unusual amount of time together, things start to pop up. Oftentimes, the pair starts to realize there are things about the other person that drives them nuts.
No one is perfect, but you are willing to look past those imperfections when you love someone. When you spend enough time with someone, you start to notice the similarities between yourself and them. They know you better than anyone, yet at times you still have disagreements or arguments, and the other person annoys or irritates you in some way.”
“Your loved one ends up being a reflection of you,” Radhi Shetty shares. “Every time you end up having interactions with them that aren't that great, a lot of the time, you can recognize that your reaction had a lot more to do with you than the other person. Whatever you’re arguing about, how you react, is your weakness.”
“I also feel the hardest thing in a relationship is we are always projecting our strengths onto the other person's weaknesses,” Jay Shetty adds. “I think what we do in relationships is we dampen our partner's strengths instead of amplifying them.”
Doing this makes your partner feel like they need to do something different or be someone different.
The strengths each person brings to a relationship are part of what makes them unique. Jay Shetty lives his life in an organized, disciplined, and scheduled manner. Radhi is spontaneous and less scheduled and organized. Shetty admits it was something that bothered him at first, but looking at it with fresh eyes, he realized he does not want Radhi to be like him. He loves her for who she is.
“If you amplify their strengths, which is the part you love, you're going to have a much more fulfilling and exciting relationship,” Jay Shetty explains.
How Did Your Relationship Change in 2020?
Last year brought increased togetherness with the people in our households. For some, the forced togetherness was a blessing. For others, it was stressful. Maybe it rekindled the romance with your spouse or you started a favorite meal night with your family. For Radhi, it felt like she was reliving the first year of marriage.
“We had not spent that much time together in our entire relationship,” Radhi explains. “We were learning so much more about each other, really understanding one another and settling into each other a lot better than we have in the past. It helped us get into a rhythm together, which I don't feel like we ever really had a rhythm together.”
Jay Shetty agrees. He says he realized that time they would spend together before the pandemic included activities like shopping or going to a movie. These things left little time to connect and have conversations.
“I think we realized we were spending time together in the wrong ways before,” he shares.
Jay Shetty and Radhi Shetty started doing a lot of physical activities together in 2020. Hiking and workouts were one thing they both enjoyed.
“It feels so much more fun for us to interact in physical activities than to sit there doing something where we're not talking or interacting,” Jay Shetty shares. “The focus is somewhere else. Whereas with physical activities, it's like you're completely focused on the activity and completely focused on the other person. It was just so much more fun to do that stuff together.”
Both Jay Shetty and Radhi Shetty agree they were intentional about their conversations and the time they spent together. Learning from past mistakes, they both were intentional about making the time spent together the best it could be.
Reframing your irritation
Do you ever feel annoyed with your spouse or loved one when they ask you to do things for them that they are capable of? Maybe they are closer to the kitchen than you are but ask you to get them something anyway. How do you keep from showing your irritation with them?
Radhi admits she can be that way from time to time, yet Jay Shetty continues to help her out without moaning about it. She asked him what his secret is.
“The first thing that goes through me is that you are a brat,” Jay Shetty jokes. “Then my monk mind comes in, and I feel like there are two sides to it. First of all, I know you're not asking me because you're trying to make my life difficult. You're doing it because you want to be loved that way. I think that if you're in a loving, trusting relationship, you start realizing that your partner's requests, even if they seem unreasonable and irrational a lot of the time, is just how they want to be loved or need connection at that moment.”
Love is more than just needing a hug or a kiss. It is the day-to-day moments, the small things. It’s when you show up for your partner by grabbing that snack they ask for, even when it is annoying to you.
Reframe how you think about the things that annoy or irritate you. Instead, think of them as the way your loved ones need to be loved or connected with at that moment. Take that time to move past your first reaction of irritation and react out of love.
Compromise is a word that gets thrown around in relationships. We are told compromise helps foster a lasting relationship. But what is your definition of compromise?
Jay Shetty has a unique relationship with the word compromise.
“Compromise means that you're both giving up something you both want for something both of you don't want,” Jay Shetty explains. “So it doesn’t feel like one person is getting what they want, and the other person is not getting what they want. That's what a compromise is.”
In their relationship, Jay and Radhi have tried to live by each of them getting what they want. If that doesn't mesh or connect all the time, the only thing that is being compromised is the false view that they should feel the same way about everything.
“Imagine I gave up what I wanted to do all the time to be where they wanted me to be,” Jay Shetty explains. “I'm going to be feeling upset. I'm going to be thinking I should be doing this, or I could be doing this. You develop bitterness towards the other person where you can't even respect and appreciate them. If you were always dragged to what I'm doing, you might be thinking, ‘Well, I could be doing this, or I could be doing that.’ What ends up happening is you end up moving further away by forcing yourself to compromise, when you could move closer together by allowing yourselves to have that space.”
Radhi Shetty agrees and believes that communication is key to letting your loved one know what is essential to you and what you need.
Carving Out Time to Spend Together
It is a little easier to carve out time for one another in a pandemic world because things are slower-paced and there are fewer demands on your time, but how do you navigate making that time in a non-pandemic world?
For Jay Shetty and Radhi Shetty, time together is something that they are very intentional about.
“We started doing a thing where we make sure that we have at least a solid weekend that we spend together,” Radhi Shetty explains. “Sometimes that's more time spent together than if we see each other every single day for like a month because it's condensed time. It's intentional, with the sole purpose to spend time together and communicate and be together in a meaningful way.”
Spending quality time together versus the quantity of time is important to the Shettys. It is about savoring the moments that they do spend together.
Don’t Keep Score
We have all heard the rule not to keep score in a relationship, but do you find yourself thinking, “I did this for them? What did they do for me?” This type of thinking can lead to resentment and anger.
There are many different roles in a relationship – physical, financial, mental, emotional, and spiritual. If you fill the financial role, and your partner is filling the mental role, but you are only keeping score in your role, you feel like you are doing everything.
Jay Shetty explains that if you can break it apart and think of it in terms of the area where your partner is contributing, it stops you from limiting yourself in what you can give and realizing that you could be giving everything in that category.
“There are so many levels,” Jay Shetty explains. “I encourage everyone to ask themselves, What are you carrying in the relationship? What is my spouse carrying the relationship? I promise you someone in your relationship is carrying something. Looking at it in that way allows you to see where your strength is in what you carry, and realize hopefully, where the other person is also contributing.”
Too often, we focus on what we are doing and don't realize that the other person is contributing, but in a different area.
Love can change over time. How you react to those changes can affect your relationship. There is no perfect love, but when you can work through the bad times and rejoice together in the good times, love will stand tall in the end.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Radhi Devlukia Shetty on “How to Navigate Relationships During Lockdown” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.