Tim (28) and Vanessa’s (26) relationship has been filled with typical twenty-something challenges such as periods of long-distance, cross-country moves, and unemployment to name a few. When asked how they’ve managed to grow together, Tim and Vanessa cite a shared worldview: optimism.
Let me be clear. This couple isn’t the sunny, saccharine kind that makes those less cheery among us want to throw in the towel. Tim and Vanessa’s positivity is practical, rational, and deliberate; it’s a choice. Tim believes, if you live with intention, “anything is possible, so the world is a great place.” For Vanessa, it’s about “purposefully choosing to find positivity in everything even if it feels like a negative at the time.”
Here’s a recent example from their trip to Peru. They both got severe altitude sickness and couldn’t hike Machu Picchu like they’d planned, so they spent the day on a bench watching the hikers go by and had a blast anyway. Here’s Vanessa:
We couldn’t even see Machu Picchu, but even at the time I think we were laughing about it, like, “We can’t hike, but this is kind of nice. We’re having a relaxing day and it’s a different perspective than other people get…I’m choosing to be okay with this, and this is what’s happening, and you don’t have control, and why spoil something that could be a really wonderful, like magical day with, “wah I don’t feel good”… Nobody else gets to do this! And that’s the choice.
To which, Tim replies, “Totally tipico,” and Vanessa chimes in with, “Tipico de Peru.” They both laugh. Apparently, more than once on their Peruvian travels, Tim and Vanessa heard “es tipico” in response to a situation they found foreign or perplexing.
This optimistic outlook allows them to trust that they both have each other’s best interests at heart – even when one or the other falters. They help each other out without keeping score or worrying about reciprocity. Here’s Vanessa:
If I see Tim cleaning I’ll be like, “oh let me come and help you clean.” I don’t know if that’s a personality trait, or if that’s like a— choosing because we love each other and we don’t want each other to be doing stuff that sucks, because like… cleaning sucks! And nobody wants to do it.
They also do “small nice things” for each other. Tim says, “Vanessa will make me coffee or I’ll make her tea in the morning, or maybe even more dumb than that, like I’ll give her a little back rub – “ Vanessa adds, ”or getting you a towel when you’re in the shower … things like that.”
Earlier in their relationship, Vanessa joined Tim in Los Angeles after a period of long-distance. Tim already had a job and friends in LA – whereas Vanessa did not. She struggled with sadness but took it on herself to make herself happy:
Even in my mopiness I was literally baking cookies every day. Who could possibly complain about that?… I describe this time as being super sad, and I know I was having sad moments and I was sad – like – generally, but I was going for walks, and I found a bookstore that I really loved, and we were going to Santa Monica, and I was actually dropping off Tim and picking him up because we shared a car, so it was like super fun and that was some of my favorite bonding time we’ve ever had, that time in the car that first year here.
Tim and Vanessa each inspire happiness in the other, without depending on the other for his or her own happiness. Easier said than done. Here’s two final anecdotes that exemplify this dynamic. They both involve gently pushing each other to the finish line on challenging projects.
Vanessa was building a letter press with Tim’s help. Here’s Tim:
Building this letterpress…it’s a complex contraption – so we got to a point where there’s no solution in sight and I walk into the living room and Vanessa’s just lying flat on her face on the floor, like obviously not very happy. And I come over and I was like, “Heyyyy,” and I start rubbing your back and I’m like, “What’s the matterrrrr,” and we got up off the floor and then you made a new plan.
Vanessa recalls the moment with laughter, saying, “And we tried it and it worked!” Tim continues:
And then four days later I was editing that stupid little [Lord of the Rings] video and I was DONE. I was like, “there’s just too much video, it wasn’t funny.” So, I’m in bed … Vanessa – I thought – had left for work, and I feel her hand on my back and she goes, [whispering] “the hobbits need you.” [Laughs.] Which at the moment – ‘cause I was half asleep – was a little bit infuriating. I was ready for another half hour of sleep – but I was like, “You’re right. They do need me.” [Laughter from both.]
This practiced positivity – es tipico de Tim and Vanessa.
What’s “tipico” for you and your partner? Do you have a particular worldview in common? How does your worldview influence and color your relationship?
Share your thoughts with us in a comment below.
Brooke is a founding author of How Love Lasts.