by Erica Garza
Tom and Giselle. Will and Jada. A-Rod and J-Lo. Harry and Meghan. Hollywood (and Buckingham Palace) may be full of power couples, but that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve that status in the real world, too. With a strong sense of independence combined with an unshakeable commitment to show up for one another, an ordinary couple can become an extraordinary duo, but it takes hard work to get there. If you want to take your relationship to the inspiring next level and be crowned as a power couple, here are some moves you can make to assume the throne. Before you know it, you’ll be reigning together.
What Is a Power Couple, Anyway?
Try to resist the idea that a power couple must possess wealth and fame. While glossy magazines love to christen the rich and famous as “power couple” material, we prefer how Millennial Love Expert Samantha Burns, LMHC, describes the term: “It’s when two confident, self-assured people who realize their worth join together to dominate life. A power couple recognizes each other’s strengths, weaknesses, respects each other’s independence, and balances this with a healthy reliance and interdependence on the other.”
Before charting out power couple goals, like renting out the Louvre or running a winery together, we think it’s important to heed advice from one half of the Will and Jada duo, Will Smith. He said in an interview in Philadelphia that the “central idea of love” isn’t even a relationship commitment, but a personal commitment to be the best version of yourself with or without your partner. “You have to every single day — mind, body, and spirit — wake up with a commitment to be better.”
Your Partner Shouldn’t Complete You
Despite Tom Cruise winning audiences over in the 90s classic Jerry Maguire by uttering “You complete me” to an early-career Renee Zellweger, he had his priorities all wrong. According to Suzann Pileggi Pawelski — co-author of the bookHappy Together, which she wrote with her husband, James Pawelski — couples in healthy relationships should “complement,” not “complete,” one another. “We should be secure, mature, and whole in ourselves while being open to the other person,” she says. Along with striving to be financially independent and career-driven, you should be committed to nurturing your own interests, passions and friendships, not just relying on your partner to be your therapist, roommate, best friend, co-parent, caretaker, oh and your lover, too. Expect your partner to show up as a “whole” person in the relationship, as well. In other words, each of you should maintain an identity that is you and that is separate from the other person. This is key to maintaining attraction over the long term.
How to Reign Together
Once you join forces with your partner, you can transform your coupledom into something more powerful by showing up for each other. Reigning together is more than just penciling in date nights or even signing the deed for your very first home. Learn how to be supportive in the specific ways he or she needs support, whether that means giving space when they need it or setting aside time to truly listen, without hastily jumping in (and take the time to teach your partner how you’d like to be supported!). One of the best ways to practice that support is to understand what your partner is passionate about...even if it’s not something you’d usually be all that interested in. If she can’t peel herself away from her new Nintendo Switch game, pop out the other controller or at least root her on as she completes the next quest. If he can’t stop trying out new recipes for the Instant Pot even when you know takeout is so much easier, find him a few new recipes to try out or play sous chef once in a while. Seeking to gain even a slight understanding of why your partner finds their new hobby interesting will help you feel more connected in every aspect of your lives — and who knows you may surprise yourselfand your partner by discovering that you love it too.
Make time for intimate moments like couples massages or shared dinners, and celebrate your partner’s wins as your own. Make goals you could accomplish together, from financial ones to fitness and health goals. Don’t let petty dramas or festering resentments go untreated before sour days become sour weeks, sour years or a sour relationship. By erecting “laws” in your relationship like “never going to bed angry” or “never threatening a breakup no matter how bad the fight is,” you uphold sanctity in the relationship and a mutual respect that is too solid to break through any common or even uncommon relationship woe.
Most of all, be kind. It is the ultimate glue of your relationship, and without it, your power couple ambition is doomed from the start. The best thing about kindness is that research shows the more someone receives or witnesses it, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to a chain reaction of love and generosity in the relationship and the world. So, if you think your power couple goals are of no interest to anyone else, think again. A power couple powerfully inspires everyone around them to transform their relationships. Reign together to show others that they, too, can turn their homes into thrones. There’s enough room in the kingdom for everyone.
Erica Garza is and author and essayist. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, The Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.