“Never regret anything that has happened in your life. It cannot be changed, undone, or forgotten, so take it as a lesson learned and move on.” – Unknown

Historically, the phrase “Anything is possible” was not one that I particularly believed. Sure, it sounded great in theory, and I used it often in session with clients, yet I didn’t truly understand the meaning of it until I met Kris. In fact, one of his favorite mantras is “Extraordinary often lives in the unreasonable, so be unreasonable.” Over the past 21 years, I have learned countless lessons from my husband, who continues to be my greatest teacher. Sometimes the lessons are conscious and intentional, while others aren’t so obvious. Regardless of the delivery, the themes of eternal optimism, unconditional love, and selfless partnership permeate.

When partners enter a marriage or committed relationship with one another, they’re agreeing to learn from each other. In a sense, they’re acknowledging the reality of the ever-shifting student-teacher dynamic of their partnership. Understanding this ebb and flow can help partners teach each other while creating a desire to learn.

Speaking of learning, here are a few of the priceless lessons I’ve learned from Kris:

Patience. As the owner and operator of a successful entrepreneurial advisory company, Kris deals with a lot on a daily basis. From implementing the all-day consulting/advisory meetings he holds to ad-hoc meetings from leaders in the organization who need a sounding board, he takes it all in stride. Kris knows that allowing these things to stress him out will only cloud his ability to solve the issue. By being patient and calm, he’s able to resolve any challenge that comes his way. The same can be said for how he handles issues on a personal level with me, friends, and family. Although I’m a patient person with others, I struggle with being patient with myself. When I learn something new, I expect to master it after doing it only a handful of times – pretty unrealistic. If I fall short of my lofty goal, I get in my head and become frustrated, which blocks me from potential success. With Kris’s patient and understanding guidance, I’ve diligently worked on giving myself more of a break.

Compassion. Kris is an extremely compassionate person. His goodwill towards others runs so deep that his heart often makes the decisions. He ensures that others are taken care of and that their needs are met way before he even thinks about considering his own. For him, giving to others is automatic and selfless; it can manifest in the form of spending quality time together, or acknowledging a subcontractor’s hard work by gifting a service to them that will allow for the contractor to have more family time. He’s a natural born helper with a huge heart, even when those on the receiving end don’t express gratitude…which is where the lesson is for me. I am a huge proponent of showing gratitude no matter what (I tell the restaurant server “Thank you” every time they stop at our table, for example). It gets under my skin when people don’t express gratitude, which leads me to feeling less than compassionate towards them and the whole situation. Kris reminds me that perhaps that individual wasn’t taught gratitude and/or doesn’t know how to express it. He brings the humanity and compassion into my awareness.

Move on. A robust combination of his problem-solving nature and years of entrepreneurship have helped to shape Kris’s unruffled mindset. He used to let things get to him, but not so much now. Yes, he could focus on that person who didn’t do what they said they would, or he could harp on someone not saying “Thank you” after receiving a referral or gift…but he chooses not to. For Kris, things that are in the past should be left there. He doesn’t believe that hanging out in the Land of What Was is helpful, productive, or healthy. Things come up, he deals with them, and is ready to tackle the next obstacle. I tend to be a part-time resident of the Land of What Was, as I’m highly nostalgic and can be a bit of a fatalistic thinker. I stew over matters in my head, especially around things I said or did. I sometimes think back with regret about how I behaved in a certain moment, whereas Kris is wired to think about how he could handle a similar situation in the future. He’s not caught up in the past nor does he give himself a mental beatdown. Rather, he’s learning and preparing for the future, which is such an invaluable lesson, not only for me, but for others.

Anything is possible. With his unwavering optimism and steadfast determination, Kris truly lives by this “Extraordinary often lives in the unreasonable” mantra. Even when the cards are stacked against him, he holds onto the belief that anything and everything is possible (until it’s absolutely not, then he deals with it accordingly). In Kris’s head, it’s simply a matter of mindset. Goals and dreams are undeniably within our reach; it’s up to us to make that first leap of faith to set things in motion. Before meeting Kris, I adhered to my limited thinking. I was rigid and chronically inflexible, which left me stuck in my own defeatist mentality. I had blinders on, preventing me from seeing all of life’s possibilities. Now, after experiencing Kris’s magical thinking, I’ve become more open to embracing this mantra. Life, with all its challenges and victories, has become “Mission Possible” for me knowing he’s by my side.

Of course, there’s a myriad of other valuable life lessons I’ve learned from my husband in the 21 years we’ve been together – and I can’t wait to learn more from my remarkable teacher.

TAKE-AWAY: Learning to be receptive to the lessons our partners teach us helps us to be better individuals. Over the next few weeks, I encourage you to intentionally reflect on some of the things you’ve learned from your partner. Think about how they’ve helped you grow as a human being and as a partner. Write these lessons down and share them with your partner. Chances are, you’ll experience an increase in communication, intimacy, and mindfulness within your relationship.