My posting frequency has become very random and inconsistent. Not 100% on purpose, I just stopped putting so much pressure on myself to write every week. Now I focus on writing when the inspiration to do so finds me. I spend a decent amount of time on social media; I get to share ideas, laughs, gain insight and of course inspiration. I recently came across this “meme” and it made me think about the true cost of being in love (for us).
And not just surface level “for the gram” love, but the true shit…the deep shit. The love that’s sometimes ugly, painful, often unfiltered. We stand at the altar/beachfront/courthouse etc and vow to love our “person” through whatever challenges and celebrations the life ahead brings. We believe that the love we have in that moment is enough to carry us 30/40+ years and be enough. But what we’re learning, even in our unconventional dynamic, is that it costs us much more than time, sweet words and loving gestures to see a real return on our investment. What do you do when a challenge presents itself for your spouse…and that challenge, is you?
If your person is truly focused on you, they’ll see you…like SEE YOU, see you. The good, bad and ugly. They’ll see the parts of you you’ve either hidden, or were unaware of in the 1st place. And if they love you like they said they did at that altar, they’ll make you aware. The question then becomes, “what now?” Of course we’re not always in a place of readiness to reflect on our imperfect parts, but once you commit to someone in a permanent way such as marriage, you realize there’s a crossroad; many over a lifetime. And you can either take the blindfolded route and dismiss the “work” you’ve been putting off, or you can face yourself in an honest and sometimes heartbreaking way to work through whatever the root cause(s) may be.
Candidly speaking, my husband and I have both been on each side of this exchange in our short 4 years. Several times in 2021 alone lol; but from my point of view(and I think he’d agree), its also been our most flourishing year thus far. As a couple and as individuals. For me, growth has been in being reflective; asking myself why? how? what does this mean to me? Is there something deeper that could be causing this reaction/response? until I come to (or close to) what I think is a root cause (feeling, emotion, trauma) that is now revealing itself in my interaction with him. And that’s what I love about him. Even with the limited access we have to each other, he still SEES me, and most times he’ll gently “turn the mirror” and show me, ME. And trust me when I say, ion be liking what I see sometimes lol.
But because I meant what I said when I vowed to forever, I’m willing to do the work on myself that will not only make me a better ME, but a better wife as well; 2 birds 1 stone. Once you get past the shock of realizing you’re not perfect and the desire to defend yourself, you can get to the real work. For me its apologizing. Regardless of what my intentions were, or how innocently ignorant I may have been to how I was behaving/responding, I’ve learned to first acknowledge his feelings about the issue. Then we can get into the meat of the situation, whether that means clarifying a misunderstanding, or taking the time to reflect and coming back to revisit the issue/topic so that he understands whether it was purely a mistake or a symptom of a more serious underlying fear/trauma/past hurt, whatever. I think we’re both learning to extend grace to each other, as well as how to accept it. We noticed that we both had this fear of being abandoned when we’ve “wronged” the other. For a time, we’d get into tiffs about why I’d stop communicating at all in the times he’s been upset with me, and why he’d say some of the things he’d say during disagreements, only to find out that we were both operating from this fearful place of anticipating the other being “done”. That realization costed us both some vulnerability, transparency and honest reflection with ourselves and each other. And coming through to the other side of that was like a new set of eyes opening. Now we both know the importance of reassurance especially in the moments when we don’t particularly like each other. Even if its just an email or call to say “I still love you even though you’re acting like a dog right now” lol.
For me, it not only lightens the mood but it reassures me that I have the space and “permission” to be imperfect, and still be worth his love, his time, his vow that he’s all in. And I’m sure it’s the same for him. Our costs also includes celebrating growth; as individuals but also the growth we achieve as a unit. And there may be missteps or failed opportunities to fully put the new pieces into action, but an “I noticed how you caught yourself before you responded how you used to” or “I like that you took xyz steps to realize where you were wrong without me having to point it out” can make a world of difference. Accountability, and recognizing the good with the same energy as we do the “bad” goes a long way towards our end goal of having a long healthy marriage.
Moving from “Why did you do this/that to me?” to “What happened to make you speak/act this way?” isn’t an easy task by far, but its a cost we’re both willing to pay for the success of our lives together. Extending grace is a selfless act, especially in moments when we feel like we’re the victim. But it’s also just the thing your person may need to move past an emotional blockage that they may have skirted, or manage to bury away for so long. We’re learning that the journey of love extends far beyond the altar, paperwork and butterflies. And with the right outlook and actions, even the bumpy parts have the ability to give way to a pretty smooth ride.