I’m not a reality TV watcher, but somehow a recent argument between Kim Kardashian and Kanye West got served to me by YouTube and I found it fascinating. Their famous argument is something that EVERYONE in a relationship is going to go through, so we can all learn from what is going on with this celebrity couple.
Here’s the often unspoken truth about personal development: When you grow as an individual, it’s going to put strain on your relationships - often to disastrous results.
For background’s sake, Kanye West is one of the most prolific rappers on Earth who has previously promoted all the trappings of rap music - derogatory language, objectification of women, self-worth derived from material things, and so on.
Recently and famously he has re-devoted his life to his Christian faith. He has sworn off creating negative content and music for “the culture” and is only going to make music that celebrates his love of Jesus Christ.
When an individual makes a dramatic turn like this, it is unavoidable that there will be conflict with those who have loved the old you. Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian, expressed this beautifully in an argument over whether or not she should dress sexy for other men to see when she said “your transformation doesn’t mean I’m in the same spot with you.”
In this argument, Kanye said that he used to appreciate her public sexiness because he had bought into the idea that a rapper is cooler if he’s got a sexy woman next to him. In this regard, he felt more important because she showed off her body. As he’s changed his blueprint and values(something we all do), what made him feel significant makes him now feel as if he doesn’t matter because nothing is reserved for him in his role as a husband.
When I coach relationships, I always like to look at how each partner is fulfilling the other’s six human needs of certainty, uncertainty, love/connection, significance, growth, and contribution. This helps us find the communication behind the real communication - one of the most important skills I try to help people develop.
We live in a significance based world where most everyone is trying to build a personal brand or be their own celebrity on social media, so it makes sense that a lot of relationship conflicts also come down to people not feeling significant to the other person.
With old Kanye, him and Kim Kardashian were perfectly aligned. She gained significance from the attention she got for her physical beauty, and he gained significance from “having” a girl that possessed a lot of physical beauty.
In life, as we get older, learn, and grow, our values will frequently change. With that, the vehicles we use to fulfill our needs change and that is what is happening with Kanye. Her exposing her body to the world now means he feels insignificant. So while he frames this in religious verbiage, he’s simply telling her that she makes him feel like he doesn’t matter. In turn, she tells him that being a powerful, sexy woman is what makes her feel as if she matters.
So you see why personal change and development puts strain on our lives. Ultimately this is why people usually choose not to change - the loss of friends, family, or a spouse is usually not worth it to people.
Maybe someone wants to quit doing drugs, but often all their friends are drug users and their social life is built on doing drugs. Quitting drugs means a loss of that time with friends and being ostracized by people you probably have loved since childhood.
Maybe you want to eat healthy and become more physically fit, but your spouse gets bothered when you no longer want to go out to the steakhouse and you take time away from watching Netflix to go to the gym.
Even something as simple as deciding to clean your room can alienate you from your roommates who have all connected over being messy. They might even get offended that you now think you are better than them with your fancy clean room.
Kanye and Kim have several choices as how to move forward. Kim can stop dressing sexy and find a new way to find significance. Kanye can find significance from the fact that she may show off her body but she reserves it for him. They could break up and find people who are more in line with their current values. They can find growth opportunities that suit both of them instead of growing in different directions. There are countless options.
The problem is, most couples will take no action and seek no help. These unheard complaints will turn into under the surface resentments which will only lead to worse consequences and less happiness.
People grow and people change and unless you are completely stagnant, these conflicts will arise. Are you prepared to handle these conflicts or will you suffer in silence forever?
As you grow, it is important to learn how to navigate these situations and how to preserve your own ecology. Otherwise, your change COULD be painful and lead to losses that aren’t necessary.
Your life coach.