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April 13, 2024

3 Things I Would Tell my Younger Self about Marriage.

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This past summer, I got a divorce.

Twenty-five-year-old me (the version of me that first met my now ex-husband) would never have guessed that 35-year-old me would have the audacity to get a divorce and then publicly provide my perspective about marriage. However, here I am, doing just that. When I reflect on the past 10 years, I am amazed at how different I am as a person, especially since I became more me (just much less apologetic about it).

When I was trying so hard to make my marriage work without fully understanding why, I was not connected to myself. I was not aware that I was fighting for the marriage due to factors outside of myself. I was fighting for the marriage because my ex-husband appeared fine with it. I was fighting for the marriage because of worry about what my friends and family would think. I was fighting for the marriage because that is what I should do.

Reconnecting with myself was an unintended consequence of doing relationship work solo since it was just me who appeared to desire something different. Something more. Before I knew it, the relationship work morphed into inner work. The increase in connection I was seeking within my marriage ended up taking place within myself, and I found myself outgrowing a marriage that I had once envisioned lasting forever. In fact, mental images of my ex-husband and I growing older together used to provide me with enough resolve to think that our marriage was worth saving.

I will never forget the day I realized that my marriage was over. I had sobbed and felt a visceral sense of loss. Ironically, it was devastating but a cleansing relief at the same time. You do not realize how much being in limbo is an energy drain until you finally make a conscious decision. Even if that decision later wavers and swings back and forth. Decision is action plus power, and I had felt stuck and powerless for years prior to deciding.

Thanks to continuous inner work, I am at a mental place where I do not regret my marriage or my divorce. It was by no means an easy place to reach, and there are still occasions I struggle with thoughts of whether I tried hard enough to stay in my marriage. What I know with certainty is that I learned and grew from my experiences. I feel called to share my insights on relationships and marriage in case someone can benefit from my story. Even if that benefit is just feeling less alone because I know personally that there is so much to gain from that.

I believe that marriage (and relationships overall) can be a beautiful thing if we keep these three concepts in mind that contradict the elements of the majority of our more classic rom-coms:

1. Marriage (or any relationship) is not a cure to loneliness. It is possible to feel alone and be married. This can happen when our values are not aligned or emotional safety for open communication is not present within the marriage.

2. Marriage does not guarantee securing a regular sexual partner. Just like people change, so do sex drives and circumstances related to sex and intimacy. Just like money, a lot of us have difficulty discussing sex, and the lost opportunities to discuss it can deepen the disconnect within the relationship.

3. Feeling loved in a marriage (or any relationship) does not replace the need to also love ourselves. Our connection with ourselves dictates the quality of the connections with others that we maintain and attract to us.

While I am uncertain another marriage is in my future, I am grateful that I was forced to recognize and combat my problematic beliefs and thoughts about romance, relationships, and marriage through failing at marriage. Yes, you read that right. I am grateful that I failed at marriage. Failing at it taught me a lot, including the impact of social programming, the importance of self-love, and what a relationship can look like when values are aligned and emotional safety is prioritized.

~

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