Shared Standards, Unconditional Love, Unquestioned Bond.

Dec 04, 2023
Angie Kitko and Mike Kitko in Sedona, Arizona

Years ago, Angie told me that we would eventually build a business around our relationship, just like we had built a life around our bond. When I asked why she thought that, she said it was because many people asked her about the relationship we had built together. Some people thought it was fake and were questioning the integrity of how we showed up, but even more were asking about how we had built something so beautiful and powerful. 

In 2014, we were in turmoil. We were both consuming chemicals at toxic levels, our relationship was a disaster, our home was full of abuse and neglect, and we were only chasing money as insulation from our pain. Because of the turmoil and some infidelity, we separated for five weeks. 

When we came back together, we had changed or healed nothing, and we continued to live the same toxic lives together, expecting something to change. It didn't. 

After a long, successful run in corporate leadership, I was fired for the first time ever. We drank the generous severance I was given, and five months later, I returned to the corporate arena. This time, I lasted 15 months before I was fired again. I knew our old life was over, and we needed to make major changes. 

I began to take control of my life and circumstances and began letting go of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse I inflicted on myself daily, and in the process, I started feeling better and better about myself and my life. I began cleaning up my body, mind, and emotions. 

I started at close to 300 lbs. I lost weight quickly with simple dietary and exercise changes. I began working with a coach who helped me see the pain in my beliefs and the stories that I told myself. Some of these beliefs were that marriage needed to be hard, work needed to be full of sacrifice and pain, money was hard to make, and that I was insignificant in the world. I added journaling and meditation to my daily routine and started reading non-fiction books that unlocked new wisdom about self-worth, health, wealth, success, and relationships. I didn't just read these books but acted and adopted new changes to my belief system and daily choices. I became a different person daily. 

My family didn't love the positive changes I was making, and even my kids tried to get me to slow down. I could literally feel like I was becoming a different person and showing up differently each day. I had no income and nothing to do but self-mastery work. And I went all-in. Even when you make positive changes and feel better about yourself, people who love you will not always agree with your choices.

Over the course of three months, I felt like a brand-new human being. It happened fast. I was more fit, self-aware, self-confident, and especially loving to myself and others. My kids continued to try to get me to slow down because they were used to a father full of pain and anger, and Angie never stopped attacking. Over time, with more love filling my heart, I stopped meeting her attacks with anger and contempt, and I began meeting them with compassion and love. 

When the attacks wouldn't stop, I filed for divorce. Even three months into my self-mastery journey I knew I deserved better, and so did our beautiful daughters. I didn't file for divorce to get the attacks to stop. I filed to eventually create a loving life with a partner who wanted to be in a relationship where support, acceptance, respect, integrity, and unconditional love were our normal states. I didn't file to coerce or manipulate, I filed to dissolve the current state.

Angie and I had both threatened divorce hundreds of times, but this was the first time it was ever acted on. I was resolved to have an amazing relationship with someone who was an ally, not an adversary in my life. When I accepted less, it was because I didn't feel like I deserved any better than being attacked and shamed. To counter, I did the same. Now, things were different. I wanted my love to be met with love, and I committed to myself to accept nothing less. 

The day after I told Angie I filed for divorce, she agreed to begin cleaning up her body. She had been in chemical addiction for well over a decade and had been in and out of mental health hospitals countless times. Each time it was met with more drugs, and she leaned on drugs as her lifeblood. She now vowed something she had never done before - begin the process of rehabilitating her addiction. She also acknowledged that her attacking behavior was unacceptable and vowed to begin shifting her manipulative, controlling, and aggressive words and actions. 

I hesitantly agreed to give her the space to do the same self-mastery work I had started three months before. I didn't pull back the divorce papers or attorney retainer because I first needed to see committed, consistent, and voluntary actions and behaviors to make changes that would promote health, harmony, and love in our home. She doubled down. 

The coming months and years weren't perfect, but Angie never quit. She slipped and fell just like anyone would, but I saw a true commitment to herself and her family that I had never witnessed before. There was emotional upheaval through every slip, but at no point did we ever lose sight of our shared vision for our lives and family. I've never been prouder and more impressed by someone's resolve. She found strength she never knew she possessed. tt was amazing watching Angie shed decades of pain and suffering and embrace her own self-worth, self-love, and personal power.

Our relationship now is full of love and grace. 

During the process, I launched a coaching/consulting business instead of returning to corporate. In that business, Angie began sharing some of her new relationship insights with our Mastermind of entrepreneurs who were creating higher levels of health, wealth, success, and love in their own lives and businesses. 

Because she was asked so often about how we transformed everything, Angie came up with a very clear understanding of what allowed our marriage and life together to shift from abuse to acceptance. Without influence or inspiration from me, she shared that we had shifted from a family that distributed love based on personal preferences and self-centered conditions being met, to a family with a shared sense of standards that set firm, unconditional boundaries on how we show up for ourselves and each other. 

Angie described conditions being personal preferences and opinions that don't violate our bond but are often the reason relationships deteriorate:

  • Cleanliness.
  • Finances.
  • Sleep schedules.
  • Habits.
  • Appearances.
  • Entertainment preferences.
  • Hobbies.
  • Time spent with friends.
  • How we perceive how our spouse shows love.
  • Career choices.
  • Material attainment.
  • Needing your partner to build their life around your emotions.

Angie also described that standards are the important part of the relationship, and the elements are based on shared values, not conditions:

  • Love.
  • Fidelity/monogamy.
  • Integrity.
  • Loyalty.
  • Support.
  • Encouragement.
  • Protection.
  • Safety.
  • Harmony.
  • Peace.

She went on to describe a bond based on conditions as a manipulationship and a bond guided by standards as a true relationship. In an authentic, powerful, loving, inspirational, unbreakable relationship, there is no manipulation to get the other to meet our own personal conditions or preferences. In a committed relationship, the bond is more important than having our own preferences met by the other, and we are accountable and responsible for our preferences and emotional needs.

A couple of things I've learned in my life and in our work together:

  • If I've got to worry about my partner being faithful, I've got the wrong partner.
  • If I've got to worry about my partner breaking us financially, I've got the wrong partner. 
  • If I've got to worry about my partner being willing to put me at risk to meet their needs, I've got the wrong partner.
  • If I've got to worry about my partner not wanting me to be truly fulfilled, I've got the wrong partner.
  • If I've got to worry about my partner ejecting at any point, I've got the wrong partner. 

And vice versa. 

A committed relationship is based on both partners being 100% invested in the viability of the health of the bond, surrendering to the standards, and letting go of the conditions that distract from and disrupt the standards. A relationship is concerned with 1+1 equaling 3 instead of each person having their own personal needs met by the other. When we focus on getting our own needs met by someone else, we usually end up depleting the other for our benefit. To avoid this, everyone must take full ownership over their own purpose, path, and fulfillment. We get to ask for and take what we want and need to fill us up. When both individuals feel complete in their own lives, everything in the relationship will multiply, and all involved will have their needs met.

We are living examples of this. Our bond strengthens as we continue to strengthen our standards and let go of conditions. Whenever conditions creep back in, our bond weakens. This has been a marathon of learning, forgiveness, and recommitment more than perfection. But you need to start somewhere. 

Start by looking at your relationship and see if you have an agreed set of unbreakable standards. If not, you're likely operating out of unspoken, conditional expectations of each other - which always lead to hidden resentments. Create individual visions for the life you each want to design and create, unify in your standards, see the shared interests, and then come together to help each other create the life they envision - selflessly. Love = Letting Others Voluntarily Evolve.

If you honor an unconditional set of standards and let go of conditions, your relationship will flourish, too. Ours moved from pain to power. Partner with each other to create an exceptional bond. Give up the idea that someone needs to be different so that you can be okay. Being ok is your responsibility and yours only. Go all-in on the relationship. 99% is equal to 0%. 100% commitment creates an unbreakable, powerful bond that will create the exceptional life you've always wanted. 

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