Married Life: When Two Artists Unite
by Michael Damico
I’m an artist and so is my wife. I always thought two of the same thing would be a tough relationship. I’m not sure why. I mean, whenever I heard anyone say something like, “Yeah, we’re both musicians” or “We’re both actors,” I assumed that was a really tough situation. So, when my wife and I met, I was a little nervous about getting involved with another artist. But that trepidation quickly faded. What I learned was that two emotionally healthy artists can thrive together. We both understand the value of focusing on yourself and your personal health. In fact, we know it’s really the best thing anyone can do.
I’m not talking about narcissism or selfish ambition. I mean it like it’s intended on airplane instructions. You know what I’m talking about: if you’re traveling with a child and the oxygen masks drop down during the flight, what are you supposed to do? Put the mask on yourself first, then put one on the child. Is that selfish? Of course not. Because you can’t help your child or anyone else around you if you can’t breathe. That’s how I see a healthy relationship. We have to take care of our own mental, emotional, and physical health first or else we may have nothing left to offer our partners when they need our support.
That only works when both partners are on the same page. I’m very fortunate to have found a partner that feels the same way. Not only did I find someone who’s into the same things as I am, but we are both pursuant of our personal health. It’s an ideal match! Don’t get me wrong. We have occasional bumps in the road. That’s just married life. Actually, that’s just relationships in general. But when it comes time to unwind or go explore my community with my wife, my partner in life, we find ourselves loving, discussing, pontificating, debating, and critiquing many of the same things.
We don’t always agree. But we’re consistently engaging on common ground and a kindred understanding. It really makes for a great friendship that can be shared on more than just the home life. We have a lot in common and therefore find more opportunities to spend quality time together.
Since we are both artists, we truly understand what we need from a helping hand when it comes time to produce art. Sometimes we need silence. Other times we need silent non-silence. That is, being supportive without being blatantly and vocally expressive about it. Although, that’s subject to change according to the other’s needs.
Sometimes we might need some really abstract support that’s just under the surface. But it gets expressed in ways that avoids throwing the other off balance. It’s kind of like what I imagine it’s like for a tightrope walker: if you start yelling, “You can do it!” then the walker might fall. But if you stand by silently and reserved, then the walker has the freedom to practice, fall, and eventually succeed.
Artist partners supporting each other is incredibly fluid. At least it is for us. The supportive role is not a ‘set-it-and-leave-it’ type of engagement. Rather, it can shift, flip flop, change, etc. very easily. So, for us, as counter-intuitive as the words sound….being open to the change and fluidity actually provides us both with stability and security.
Freedom to Work the Room
Being married to an artist has an additional benefit when it comes to showing your artwork at an event or opening. When it’s time for one of us to step into the limelight, we are both keenly aware of the needs of the crowd because we’ve been immersed in the world of art for much of our lives. But we aren’t threatened by the other’s attention being diverted to patrons, collectors, and curious people.
It’s actually quite easy to understand what the other needs during those moments, which often wildly fluctuate. And since we both recognize that, we can express that need to each other neutrally by using a sort of non-emotional analysis of information, if you will. In fact, my wife and I are so familiar with these events anyway, that we usually are able to communicate “Hey, come be with me more” or “I need to focus on these folks for a bit” without uttering a word to each other. We are flexible in our supportive roles, knowing when to disappear or be present, without feeling threatened by whatever needs the moment presents.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We aren’t robotic. And this all sounds good theoretically. But at the end of the day, we are both just practicing this stuff. You know? We are practicing love, life, forgiveness, kindness, understanding, self-improvement, and our own craft. Having a willing partner is, without a doubt, the key. But having a willing partner with whom you share a huge overlap in special interests is just icing on the cake.