Shared Passionate Mission, Vision, and/or Goals

Additional Information for Chapter 2, page 16

The issue of shared passionate mission, vision, or goals is addressed in two places in The Compatibility Code. First, the topic is overviewed in Chapter 2 dealing with basic components of an excellent marriage. Then the final chapter (Chapter 12) concludes with a further discussion of shared passionate Mission/Vision/Goals and provides examples of some of the most celebrated marriages in history.

Throughout this conversation, we will just use the single word “goal” to include mission and/or vision.

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar has stated that when one has a passionate goal the difficulties of life are more like pebbles on the beach than major barriers. The reverse is implied by this statement: Without a passionate goal, many of life’s trivial difficulties may seem insurmountable. Because of that, we think that shared goals is on of the strongest contributors to a great relationship.

The application to marital success is straightforward: With passionate goals, the day-to-day challenges that all marriages experience seem trivial compared to the mutual pursuit and accomplishment of the goal. Because problems are dwarfed compared to the importance of the goal, they are much more likely to be viewed as issues to be resolved rather than serious relationship threats.

The Lives of Robert and Clara Shumann—An Example of Shared Passion

Robert and Clara though brilliant musicians were both flawed people. In that sense they represent a reality we all share. We are all flawed in various ways, and even if flaws are minimized we will harbor significant differences from our spouse that yield irritations and upset. For instance, in the Schumanns’ life, when Robert was composing, Clara couldn’t practice the piano because it upset his flow of ideas. So whether we speak of Robert and Clara Schumann or speak of ourselves, those frustrations and irritations are part of the package.

I acquired Clara Schumann, The Artist and the Woman by Nancy B. Reich (available on The two paragraphs we wrote in Chapter 12 are brought to vivid life in the book and, of course, the marriage of Clara to Robert is explored in exquisite detail. A closer look at their marriage reveals two real people with significant challenges personally and relationally. But, who still illustrate an excellent marriage.

The marriage lasted only 17 years. They married in 1840 when Clara was 20, Robert 29. Robert died in 1857 at the age of 46; Clara would live another 40 years. Robert’s fame came as a brilliant composer, Clara’s as a pianist. So great were Clara’s gifts as a performer that, through a 60 year concert career, she was considered by many to be equal to (or better than) Franz Liszt and Anton Rubenstein, the superstars of the 19th century. Have you ever been to a concert in which the performer came out thirteen times to acknowledge a standing ovation that lasted longer than twenty minutes? That was Clara Schumann.

Now, with that structural bit out of the way, let’s look at their marriage: Robert and Clara though brilliant musicians, were both flawed people. In that sense they represent a reality we all share. We are all flawed in various ways, and even if we minimize the flaws we will harbor significant differences from our spouse that cause irritations and upset. For instance in the Schumanns’ life, when Robert was composing Clara couldn’t practice the piano because it upset his flow of ideas. So whether we speak of Robert and Clara Schumann or of ourselves, these frustrations and irritations are part of the package.

But despite all of that, let’s look at what they shared.

1. A passionate romance that lasted for the duration of their marriage. This is documented in their diaries and evidenced through a devotion that could be seen by anyone who had acquaintance with the Schumanns. Nancy Riech, her biographer, states that no mention was made (in the diaries) of their sexual involvement, but they did sum up the joy.

The early months of their marriage were the most joyful Clara had ever experienced . . . his [Robert’s] tender Eusebius side provided maternal warmth; his brilliant mind, creative genius, and sharp critical talent stimulated and inspired the young artist. And finally, her sexual fulfillment, after so many years of postponement, must have been an overwhelmingly joyful experience; the diaries and letters of this prudish age are silent on the subject.

The couple produced 7 children (and one miscarriage) during a 9-year stretch of time early in the relationship.

Experts say that the “in love” state lasts on average only about two years, but the biography doesn’t reveal much diminishment of their passionate love for each other during the years they were married.

2. The joy of music. Clara premièred every work involving a piano that Robert composed. The two musicians, for whom music was as precious as the air they breathed, shared the camaraderie of composing, analyzing, performing, revising, and working to perfect their art. This provided a joy known only to persons who pursue their passion with equal intensity.

3. Support in times of crisis: Robert and Clara experienced many crises during their life together. These crises proliferated in both their professional (e.g., when the powers-that-be were unhappy with Robert’s conducting) and personal (e.g. the conflicts with Clara’s father) lives. When crises struck, Clara was not a “yes person” who simply acquiesced to Robert’s wishes. Their interaction at such times was intelligent as well as supportive and empathic.

4. Friendships: Their friendships (mostly in the musical world) provided intense joy for both of them. They often shared both musical and personal communion with Felix Mendelssohn, Frederic Chopin, and the young Johannes Brahms (who actually lived with them for a year) and many lesser known but equally loved musicians. They also, perhaps not so wholesomely, enjoyed detesting Franz Liszt who they thought was much too showy and promiscuous, as well as Richard Wagner who’s music was much too noisy, and they also hated his anti Semitism.

Clearly more could be said, but this does indeed provide an extraordinary glimpse of two real people who lived life to the fullest experiencing the challenges that face us all . Their marriage was, at the time, called the marriage of the century.

That was in the 19th century—the 21st century is still new. Perhaps your marriage could achieve a similar honor. But, like the Schumanns, anyone nominated for that honor must share passionate interests that extend far beyond their own gratification.

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