And so, dear heart, I come to one of the harder topics for me, marriage. The funny thing is I did not grow up dreaming of having children. I didn’t dream of their names, I didn’t dream about their gender, I didn’t dream about a family life, and as my 20s began to scroll by, I didn’t even think I would have children. But here I sit, with two amazing human beings, both of which are my life focus and my source of motivation. Both of which make me feel as if my heart is moving, deciding, loving, and growing outside of my body. As I said at the beginning of this series, ‘“I would not change any decisions I’ve made.” I made them at the time with thought and purpose and even amid devastation at certain points in my life, I still would not change my decisions.’ My current road is exactly where I should be, expected or not, and my two human beings are some of the most important things to me.
What I did grow up dreaming about was my wedding. I think most little girls do. We dream about the dress, the long aisle, the food, the gathering, the ideal time of year, and often, lastly, we dream about the person that stands next to us in the scenario. My third year in college I walked into a fashion design class and heat rose to my cheeks as I watched everyone turn in a project that was assigned at the beginning of the semester. I had completely forgotten it. I fibbed to my professor and told her I had left it at home. I rushed home, began and finished it in two hours and took it back to her office. Amazingly, I received a B+, only because it was late. It would have been an A had I remembered the assigned project.
I tell that story because the project was to create a fashion story both visually and in written form of your ideal runway show. Can you guess what mine was? It was the wedding I had always dreamed about! I had such a clear vision from my detailed dreams that all it took was some time to get it out on paper. What I did not dream about were the things that actually make up a marriage. Being raised by a single mom gave me a strength of independence, which is utterly important in life, but it did not provide me with an experience of marriage and all its intricacies.
I want my daughter and son to consider the intricacies. The divorce rate in Southern California, where I reside, is pushing 70%. Marriage is something to be considered, planned for, worked on and entered with intention. I tell my daughter often that the most important thing is a common foundation. But what does that look like? In my heart of hearts, a common foundation is made up of four things.
- Belief – a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing.
Your core belief cannot be a belief in your partner. There has to be a belief external to the relationship in order for the relationship to succeed. In a partnership, belief needs to be the same. And you cannot change someone’s belief or help them find it, period.
- Desire to Find Compromise with Understanding – This is not basic compromise as in the compromise to settle a dispute. This is the willingness to sit and discuss, to empathize with the other’s point of view and to ultimately choose a path, move, financial investment, career, trip, or anything else large or small, that is authentically agreed upon by both partners. Do not underestimate the challenge of this or how much you will have to share to achieve this.
- Commonality – Marry your best friend. Marry the one who shares a bulk of your interests, not that takes on your interests as their own. Marry the one who enables you to laugh, consider, reflect, and adventure through life.
- Solo Strength – A person must first understand themselves before they can give to someone else. A good partner is one who is strong enough to allow the other to nourish their soul both with their partner and in their own manner. Marriage is made up of a strong sense of belonging coupled with a strong sense of freedom. A passionate love ebbs and flows but love that is fed and cared for lasts.
In your journey through life, understand yourself first.
Experience things, figure out who you are and then when someone slides beside you that shares those four things, you will have the strength of character to recognize them and move toward a union that will weather the storms.
I read something recently on Facebook, “Be alone. Eat alone, take yourself on dates, sleep alone. In the midst of this you will learn about yourself. You will grow, you will figure out what inspires you, you will curate your own dreams, your own beliefs, your own stunning clarity, and when you do meet the person who makes your cells dance, you will be sure of it because you are sure of yourself.”
My wonderful church community has just finished a series on love. It was poignant for me. In 1 John 4:18 it says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Love is the absence of fear and God’s love for us is a perfect example of the absence of fear in a relationship. Listen to your fear barometer. It tells the truth.
Your heart will be intimately and wisely cared for with the four things above. But don’t rush. Remember, as my pastor said, “Your heart is a prize. There is a fiercely fought battle to win it.” Let God win that battle and partner with someone who’s heart He has also won.
By His Grace