The Roads We Travel

A few days in a life journey.

How to Marry for Life

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Of course that’s only if you want to! Not every relationship was meant to be forever and ever amen… and that’s okay!

Today is my 7th anniversary. So naturally after seven years, I feel a certain level of qualification to speak on the subject of how to marry for life. After all,  surviving the seven-year itch means channeling a lifetime of patience, strength and forgiveness,  then blending it down with a dash of vodka shaken vigorously over ice. Yes, vodka (or you can substitute wine, champagne, chocolate, etc.) and ice (the ability to step back, cool-off and regroup) are key ingredients for a lifetime marriage, but remember everything in moderation,  nothing in excess.

Getting married in my 30s, as an independent-minded, ambitious, career woman, feminist and single mom, was scary. Would I lose my sense of self? Yes. Would I have to compromise on everything? No, but more than I would like. Even changing my last name felt like I was kicking aside the very essence of me.

Seven years later, I understand how we evolve, we change and we grow with every life experience. I did lose sight of my old sense of self, but I have discovered something beautiful and more meaningful along the way. I’m learning how to make time for me within the walls of my preoccupation with others. This is not an easy lesson and yet it is so important. Boundaries. It is life sustaining. Writing, creating, singing, dancing, laughing … these are my air and so I have to breathe this air daily to live. What is your air? You can’t live and thrive in a marriage without it.

My husband has been a tremendous support and partner in our journey together. Just like me, he’s learning about himself and what he needs in order to breathe, live and thrive in our world together. The more he discovers, the happier he is and this makes my heart glad.

It’s not about being selfish, although admittedly sometimes we are. It’s not about being selfless, and yes we have passed many of those days as well. It’s just working (everyday mind you) to find harmony and balance. Yes, working! Both of us work at it. After seven years, I can share that it doesn’t come naturally… not yet.

Being raised by a single mother, I heard people talk about marriage being work, but I couldn’t conceptualize what they meant. The only work I knew was stocking shelves at Hechingers and selling tickets and popcorn at the local movie theater. How do I apply those skills to a marriage?

My husband, who was raised in a home with an abusive dad, didn’t know either. So, we sought help together. I’m convinced that the tools we learned in our pre-marital counseling and subsequent sessions have been the key to helping us communicate, and see and hear one another.

Many men refuse to go to counseling with their wives and I understand that it can be a scary thing to allow a third-party into your heart, mind and relationship, however, and I feel strongly about this, if you have never learned to swim and you’re determined to teach yourself, don’t jump into the deep end first!

That’s what marriage is. It is the deep end of the pool. No scratch that, it’s the ocean and if you don’t have the skills to survive the turbulence, the strong waves and the undercurrents,  then your ass will drown. No question. Save the macho for fixing cars, not your marriage. Go ahead and get a swim coach (i.e., a professional marriage counselor).

For those fortunate enough to have had some effective tools modeled and taught to them by parents who had it all together, amen and awesome, keep paying it forward.  For the rest of us, the secret ingredients to sustaining a marriage for life (or at least seven years, ha!), lie somewhere in a lifelong commitment to learning about ourselves and our partners, making time to breathe our own unique air, an acceptance that we don’t have all the answers, and vodka blended in your favorite drink with ice… lots of damn ice!

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Written by Shara

November 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

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