Today's LOVE guest writer is my cousin, Ginny. She's a country wife and mother of three. Her blog is "A Peaceful Way," where she talks about learning to parent in a more loving and peaceful way to her three high spirited children.
Erin's PS- I love you Ginny! Just the way you are!!
Marriage is not something I can speak about without first closing my eyes, and remembering the girl I used to be. My father was very critical of falseness. He always told me to just be myself. But I never knew who I was, or worse, deep down I was afraid that the self my real self was, was worthless, boring, and not worth true friendship or love.
I muddled through my life, trying on one personality after another, feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.The rare times that I relaxed and let my hair down, I didn't like me, and no one else did either. I was depressing and over-analytical. I would quickly stuff that person back away, and put on my false face again so at least someone would be my friend again.
I went through pain, lots of pain, and I learned that pain could be my friend in many ways, because it helped me forget myself, and wonder if anyone else had ever felt pain in just that way too.
Then I met Kevin, my now husband. I don't know why he disarmed me like he did. But for the first time in my life, I began to see myself through his eyes. His eyes cut through any need I had to hide my true self, and for some reason, I liked what they saw. I still put on a show for everyone else, but for him, I could not even if I wanted to. He could see me, as no one else, not even I myself, had ever seen me. And he saw something worth having.
Our first year of marriage was a full year of fighting. I am pretty sure I cried myself to sleep at least once a week, questioned my decision to marry at least every other day, and despaired that nothing would ever improve, at least once a month.
Then we learned the art of apology and forgiveness, the philosophy of live and let live, and the absolute value of a genuine, warm smile. (Perhaps I learned that last one first.)
Marriage, for me, explored all the wounds of my past, ripped open the unhealed corners of my psyche, and aired them out for my husband and I to see. It was excruciating, but it was also therapeutic. I learned to be humble. I learned to be okay with being imperfect and letting others see that imperfection, because we really can't hide anything from our spouse. Not really. Not who we are or what we feel.
(I find that more often than not, people who are hesitant to marry are usually those who are scared of facing their own demons. To them I say...when were you planning on facing them?)
My husband and I were such an imperfect pair, riddled with baggage, emotional scarring, and so much buried pain. You wouldn't believe the hateful words we would scald one another with. Yet there were moments, even in that first year, when we could let go and laugh at ourselves, forget all the hurtful things we'd just said, and embrace as everything else in the world melted away. None of the problems mattered in those moments. Only our friendship and love existed.
I can only speak for myself here, and not for him, so I will say...as I began to heal as a person, our marriage began to heal as well. When I took responsibility for my part, without needing anything from him, our relationship began to become more often a source of comfort than pain.
My marriage, I discovered, is an exact mirror image of my inner self. If my inner self is in turmoil, so will my marriage be. If my inner self is at peace and harmonious, so is my marriage. If I feel self-loathing, I will loathe my husband. If I feel self-love, I will love him dearly. So the motivation to be okay inside is multiplied ten fold, because now our entire family hangs on the health of our marriage. Happiness is not a dream for some day in the future, it is a constant mission of greatest importance, day after day. It is sought for in all the ways we know how, but mostly by practicing unconditional forgiveness and love. It doesn't have to make sense, he doesn't have to be sorry, I can still forgive, because I choose to...because I choose happiness and love.
Maturity is taking power over who I want to be, and the life I want to have, and making the choices and changes to get there.
Maturity is absolutely necessary in my opinion, for a happy life at all, married or not. I love marriage, however, because it forced me to look at myself, and question my belief system. It forced me to ask myself if I love myself truly, and why? Marriage forced me to stop stuffing down my true feelings, deal with them, and let them pass so I could finally open up to other people instead of hiding behind a false persona. Marriage has taught me that I am worth loving. Marriage has changed me in ways I couldn't have dreamed were possible or necessary when I was single. I never knew the ugliness inside of me, or the beauty, until I was placed under the microscope in this, God's laboratory. I never knew that I had the power to choose to be beautiful, and to let the ugliness slip under like sand washing away from a cradled seashell.
If I could talk to my dad now, (he passed away a few years ago), I wonder if I would have the courage to be myself? I wonder if I would be able to tell him I want to be like him when I grow up-honest with myself, honest with everybody else, in every possible way. I know for certain that my dad would instruct me to be best friends with my husband, and let nothing and no one get in the way of that, not even him or Mom. He would tell me not to ask for marriage advice from anyone, because "you get what you pay for when you get free advice." He would say no one else is married to my husband, and no one besides me has more motivation to work things out. He would tell me, "Don't worry if you two don't fit together just right all the time, this life is the time to learn how to do that." And then he would throw his head back and laugh, because of course he just violated his own advice, and gave advice. I would relax in his warm company, and I would go home and tell my husband I was the luckiest wife in the world, and wonder at how many more transformations marriage has in store for me, in the many, many years ahead.
Erin's PS- I love you Ginny! Just the way you are!!