"Find the blessings in the people around you because they're the ones that support your life."
— Dr. Oz
My husband Stephen and I just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary, 18 years of magnificent, and yes, oftentimes messy marriage.
As I considered writing this post I realized that there is enough material here for a book, but this is a blog, so I will hit the highlights and if you want to know more just ask, and I will answer, within reason of course, not up to a tell all. Don't worry Stephen.
First of all, my husband is truly incredible. He supports my dreams and ideas even when they are not things that he enjoys or even understands. He is a great dad who genuinely attends to his family. He makes pancakes on Saturday mornings, waffles on Sundays. When he looks at our kids he beams with pride and adoration. He is not afraid to show emotion, a man who can cry, what a gift. He is devoted, loyal and loving. He is my greatest blessing.
Our relationship began when we were just entering our twenties, so young. We were in college, trying to figure it out, who we were, what we would be, what we wanted in life. We were both lost, on the wild side, rebellious, angry, wounded. We partied more than we studied, we were reckless thrill seekers rejecting social norms, intelligent but self destructive. We both had murky, thick pools of pain to slog through and found it better to do so holding onto a hand that understood. We came together in our falling apart.
Together we got through troubled times, addressed our addictions and started our emotional healing. Our marriage has been a journey of mutual healing. It has been amazing and difficult, heart wrenching at times. I believe that our closest relationships are forged in soul connection, we come together because our souls are drawn to their teachers and sometimes the lessons are tough.
Stephen and I have struggled through some great challenges in these 18 years together. Our like experiences that brought us together also meant we shared some powerful shadow qualities. Anger, shame, guilt, trauma, anxiety and depression have all made appearances. In our relationship we have brought out the best in each other, and the worst, like holding up a mirror to show the other everything that needs to be seen, everything that needs to be explored, everything that needs to be healed and held, finally, in the arms of acceptance and love.
I think this is where many marriages go wrong, and we almost went this way as well. When the struggle gets deep and intense that is where the seeds of great growth and healing might be planted, that is when it is vital to stay together, at least long enough to dig in, to feel, to find out. Some relationships do run their course, or can't be healed and must end, but I think this is a culture of reactivity, looking for either quick fixes, or quick escapes. Instead of first pausing to breathe, feel, communicate, there is a fear based impulse to cut and run. I have had my share of moments of wanting to run away and not look back, growth has its pains. Love must sometimes be endured as well as cherished.
Forgiveness is the cornerstone of love.
We have come a long way together, we have weathered many storms and have enjoyed even more days of sun. We are blessed beyond measure to have each other, our beautiful children and a love that has been steadfast, patient and strong. We have learned about forgiveness many times over, in so many ways, and continue on that path. We have also learned that we can make all the room we each need to be different from each other. We don't have to agree on everything, or anything even, we can march to different drummers and still dance together. We are perfectly imperfect together and have blossomed into more than we ever dreamed possible, holding the hand of someone who understands, not with their head, but with their heart.
"Let's stay together, loving you whether, whether, times are good or bad happy or sad."
I dedicate this song to you Stephen. Let's keep staying together.