Things I learned from my first marriage

I’m having a bit of a struggle figuring out what I want to say about anger so in the meantime I thought I’d revisit some writing I started a little while back.

I had this straight up list to share but I thought it needed a framework to be helpful and applicable to you, my client. You might be wondering why a massage therapist, a practitioner who has to be careful about her boundaries with clients, is talking about something so personal. Well, for a really long time I did not engage in any sort of personal conversation with clients. And it was fine. Clients enjoyed my massages. We had a good rapport, but something was lacking. There was no heart connection. As an MFR (myofascial release) practitioner, I treat the whole person. That includes body, mind, and spirit.

I bring up this topic because I hear clients mention dissatisfaction with spouses. It’s no secret that marriage is hard work. I don’t invite a dialogue about marriage in sessions, but I do listen and what I’m hearing is that you might benefit from some encouragement to reflect on the current state of your relationship. So that’s all this is… I share my thoughts and feelings to encourage you to do some self-exploration.

My intention always is to encourage you to find YOUR creative voice. I paraphrase Andréa Baltwho probably paraphrased someone else…your life is your art. So essentially we are all artists.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” -Pablo Picasso

I shed light on my first marriage (and I say “my first marriage” because I believe I will get married again one day), without getting into personal details (or trying not to), because I want each and every one of you to have your best relationships possible.

The things I list are not sugar coated although maybe slightly censored (I have a few outtakes saved for myself).

If anything, I hope this post gives you the courage to stand naked and bare and brings you to really look at your marriage and come to terms with the parts you want to improve. Because just as we aspire to have great careers, it is well within our scope to enjoy amazing love. It just takes two people who are willing to put in the work. Both of you have to fight for it.

You may not be able to change your partner, but you have every opportunity and the will to change yourself if you can tap into your imagination and view yourself in a new light.

In my first marriage I definitely felt like we slipped into unhealthy, dysfunctional patterns that we just could not shake off. Basically every kind of red flag was present from the beginning. But what do you really know in your 20’s? (I didn’t know sh*t!)

I’ve finally gotten to the point of forgiveness, of others and of myself. I was married for 7.5 years. Within that time, lesson after lesson showed up and the same lessons kept coming up because I just didn’t get it. In the end, the biggest lesson was one of self-love which I continue to work on.

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know…” -Pema Chödrön

Ultimately, there was one very good reason why the universe got me tripped up in a codependent relationship… I was meant to give birth to my daughter Sydney.

Motherhood has been a struggle unto itself until I surrendered my independence and realized that yes, my heart would be walking around outside of my body for the rest of my life (a blog post for another day!).

Here are some lessons I learned from my experience that I will remember going into my second marriage (whenever that happens)… Please excuse my harsh language. The bitterness arises from feeling robbed of a decade of my life. I don’t blame the ex (although of course I once did, ok maybe I still do a little bit…working on that!), but it makes me sad to think that I allowed myself to waste time on not living the best life I could.

But depression is really tough to beat. There is no real rhyme or reason to it. It just is and it just takes over. But that topic, too, is indeed an important post for another day.

Here we go…  Fyi, this post has been reviewed by the ex! (He says he loads the dishwasher just like I do. lol #14)

  1. Trust and mutual respect are the very foundations of any kind of relationship. F*ck love. (8/16/16 edit. I crossed that out because it’s a harsh expression that’s loaded with bitterness. I’m not bitter like that. Maybe disillusioned as to what love really means, what it really is… We’ll add that to the list of blog posts to write!) Love has little to do with the day to day survival of a marriage. Did I really just say that? Yes. Because love is a verb. Feeling in love is very different from loving someone every single day of your life.
  2. Figure out immediately if your partner is an introvert, ambivert, or extrovert. It will explain sooo much if you get a handle on who you are and what they are. I unknowingly kept choosing introverts as partners without realizing that they do not jibe with the way my heart and brain work–talk about frustration that could have been avoided! 
  3. Incompatibility cannot be ignored. It’s kind of obvious from day 1. There are reasons why we ignore it but try your best not to. Incompatibility isn’t about not having enough things in common. It’s about not being on the same page about life, self, and others.
  4. Kindness and care must be abundant to keep the feeling of intimacy alive. This is where good communication is crucial. You must understand each other’s love languages. (I’m still trying to get through it again, but The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a great resource.) If you don’t get how your partner feels loved, then you will fall short of fulfilling their needs and down you both go towards the slippery slope of isolation.
  5. Sex is important for a happy marriage. It’s not everything, but without sex there is no strong physiological bond that is formed and maintained. You might as well be roommates or siblings! (I know, gross! But hello!) There is another dimension to your marriage when you explore your sexuality together. This can be an incredible opportunity for self-acceptance and coming to terms with your body image. What a waste too! One single friend in particular was just completely mystified her married friends were not having sex. hahaha
  6. Marriage is not the place where you let it all hang out and expect your spouse to still be attracted to you. Don’t let yourself go. It’s difficult to care for someone who doesn’t love themselves enough to take care of themselves. This feeling of laziness can be pervasive. Put forth the effort to make your partner feel special. Never take each other for granted.
  7. You must work to keep the spark of liking and attraction alive. Criticism is the quickest way to burn it out.
  8. People don’t change until they feel self-motivated and they definitely do not change when forced into that type of situation. That is just a recipe for resentment.
  9. Don’t get into the habit of mindlessly saying “I love you.” Love is demonstrated through actions. Be love and recognize your partner’s efforts with immense gratitude.
  10. Daily fights are not normal and should not be tolerated. Reactivity is addictive and always harmful. This is an ugly cycle we just couldn’t escape. We just seemed to bring out the worst in one another.
  11. A great marriage is 75% picking a good roommate. The other 25% is picking someone you really LIKE.
  12. Never marry a messy person who doesn’t pick up after themselves unless you like to live that way too!
  13. Never be the one to always cook and clean. It is best to share those duties. Boundaries are essential. Let each other know what is or isn’t okay from the very beginning. Speak up. Humans are not mind readers. 
  14. Get over thinking that there is one right way of doing something. Let your spouse load the dishwasher the way they want to, even if it’s completely inefficient. ;P
  15. Do things together. Often. It creates a bond and you form memories that glue you together. Everything isn’t going to be fun, although fun and playfulness are super important because who doesn’t want joy in their life? Of course you weather the storm together, but if your marriage is filled with negativity and is less than 75% positive… What are you doing? Stop and see what you can both adjust.
  16. Staying in a lonely marriage is severely damaging to your self-esteem. Get the f*ck out if your partner isn’t showing efforts to make it work. Self-love takes precedence. Love yourself enough to recognize that it’s time to stand on your own two feet.  

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.” -Nina Simone

 

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