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How I Found Love (Again)

Photo by aeschleah
It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes. ~Sally Field

Recently, my husband and I had several arguments—one after another, each fueled by the prior. This series of bickering pushed me to examine marriage: both the societal conditioning of how relationships should be and a reflection on my own journey in the love department.

I have been married for five years; but up until this past year, I often hesitated sharing my relationship in much depth, beyond the fact that we had celebrated two proms together in high school and experienced a unique journey thus far. Although I knew my husband was my life partner, lover, mentor, confidant—my one and only now and into old age—I was self-conscious about the layers beneath our outer shell.

We were amazing. Then we weren’t. We would be so connected. Then we’d become thrown off. We would be inspiring. And then we would deeply discourage ourselves. There were times during my husband’s layoff, family hardships, and a period where I felt a lack of purpose that caused us to behave severely flawed.

Coupled together we were dynamic, magnetic and resilient. Both of us had lost a parent to the same illness at a young age, and because of this, we had a deep connection and understanding. We were passionate about well-being, a balanced lifestyle and the legacy we would leave for our future family. Our visions and values aligned, yet our behavior would prove otherwise. Our marriage was very colorful; in that, we would radiate both light and shadows on either side of the spectrum.

I could not fathom how such two uncommon beings—with the depth that we shared—had the ability to create frequent sparks of distress. Recently, after an honest observation of our truth, the uncertainty I carried with me was fully explainable:

Living in a country where I was more knowledgeable about how marriages were dysfunctional than they were wonderful, I had allowed myself to become consumed by the confusion. And to dissolve this confusion, I would simply tell myself to be grateful for what we had: I closed my eyes and went along for the ride, wherever that would lead me.

The stats I knew about poor marriages were astonishingly clear: 50% of marriages do not make it. Finances were the number one reason for divorce. Marriage was becoming an overrated entity. Hollywood couldn’t make the institution of marriage work.

Since a young age, I always fought conformity. I rebelled. I experimented. I moved out in high school. I happily embraced individuality and stood proud as a non-conformist, whole-heartedly rejecting the norm. Yet when it came to my relationship, I wanted to conform my husband—us—and the way we projected ourselves.

I was influenced very easily. I replicated a wide-eye, bushy tailed teenager ready to receive the psychology of relationship from any source, family member or friend. I willingly allowed myself to be crafted into a mold designed by the conformity of how others depicted and defined a strong relationship.

My marriage was at the mercy of the outside world, whether a piece of relationship advise from O Magazine or perhaps the appearance of a deeply passionate couple I’d witnessed that day. I would observe the male role on reality TV. I would hear relationship “experts” define—a, b, and c—what real men did and how true ladies behaved. I would watch romantic comedies and the idealistic endings.

I collected this information, stored it away and rationalized these thoughts into analytical, judging words during an argument.

I made the unconscious decision that we should fit a mold. I wanted my husband to fit the perfect little box of the Bread Winner or the Chivalrous Gentleman or Brilliant Exec or Romantic Lover. The random tics of information I had collected about the institution of marriage—successful or not—were so generalized and distorted; yet, they began to unconsciously crowd in my own mind.

I felt lost. I was not genuine. I did not love authentically. I missed living from the inside out. I wanted to be beautifully human again.

With this realization, I made the conscious decision to come back to me, to my husband, to us… to my heart.

I continue to be in awe at what happens when we embrace what we are, instead of fight what is not true to our authenticity. It’s so simple. It’s so life changing. My marriage reality is simply this: our relationship allows me to feel full of life; we have unlimited creativity and the most extraordinary discussions; we have an ebb and flow way of living that is beautiful; we are gifted individuals; we are unconditional; we are different; we are love; we are us.

We have our own unique blend of marriage in the world.

For all the lovers and couples out there, perhaps ask yourself this question: “How is the love I share with my partner unique, beautiful and outside of the box? And can I more gently embrace this uniqueness to enrich my relationship?”

In celebration of Valentine’s week, I’m honored to have a home at TSN, with this opportunity to wish each of you an unconditional journey—carrying your very own remarkable blend of love into the world.

Parting Words on How I Found Love

There is much growth my husband and I still have to do as individuals, and then together as life partners, in a landscape changing from moment to moment. But with each day, I welcome these lessons of wisdom and appreciation.

To reflect and continually grow with meditation, letting go, awareness and forgiveness has allowed us to radiate more light. We can now continue on this journey together—un-moldable, non-conforming to the noise of popular beliefs—being just … us.

I’m grateful to be conscious again. I’m grateful for newly found grace in our marriage. I’m grateful to be breathing, for the first time in a long while, from the inside.

Again, for all the couples out there, consider this question: “How is the love I share with my partner unique, beautiful and outside of the box? And can I more gently embrace this uniqueness to enrich my relationship?”

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About the author

Cat is a recent corporate escapee, now practicing as a full-time Zen Student. Her home, for the next year or so, is on various meditation cushions in the world.

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13 thoughts on How I Found Love (Again)

  1. Cat, I love your honesty. It seems the face of marriage is changing for many as we celebrate our uniqueness and oneness. It can be scary, and so enlightening.

    Thank you!

  2. Eve

    You’re just like my reflection in the mirror. I would set so many rules for my fiance to follow and when he failed one, I would have a fight with him out of nothing. I’m so silly! Thank you for posting this article and reminded me how life can be really simple and beautiful!

  3. Jay

    Amazing article.. :)

  4. Leigh~ Yes, so true. In our authenticity, sometimes it is easy to forget the marriage “entity”–the togetherness–outside of individuality. Thank you for your comment and a BIG welcome to TSN :) I’m looking forward to more of your posts.

    Eve~ I’m all too familiar with rules. Especially, growing up with someone since age 16 (I’ve been with my husband for 12 years), many rules have accumulated over the years…!

    I’m grateful for your comment (with all my honesty out there in the open) that there is someone who can completely relate. It’s so beautiful, truly, what happens when we let go of the opinions, the ego, the outsider perspectives–the rules–and just cherish and appreciate the awesome, unique (and imperfect) relationship we have created. Congrats on the engagement, and cheers to many amazing years of marriage.

  5. Hi Cat,

    Thanks for this honest article. It’s easy to have our expectations of our significant others distorted by external sources we’re constantly surrounded by (like TV or magazines, as you mentioned, or other people we know), that we overlook the genuine qualities that make them the person we love.

    When I was with my partner, I’d sometimes find myself getting annoyed or frustrated by things like breadcrumbs on the carpet or (over)enthusiasm for video games. Then I realized that if after being with someone for four years those minor things was all I had to complain about, I was actually a pretty lucky girl :)

    – Lily

  6. Corrine

    Where’s the ‘like’ button? :)

  7. Morning Lily,

    My husband and I were just talking about this last night: at times, it’s easy to become caught up in the minor details of relationships. Whereas, if we just step back, and look at the whole, our love is brilliant with so much to be grateful for.

    And to echo the importance of what Leigh mentioned yesterday in her post: love begins within us and is an expression of ourselves. When we are living from the inside out, the minor hiccups with our partner become smoothed over with much more ease. To have a deep love and comfortability within ourselves can be powerful.

    Thank you, very much, for sharing this thought :)

  8. Beautiful post Cat. It reminds me of my own experience with marriage. We weren’t able to make it work because we didn’t really take the time to reflect on what our issues. We both were very stubborn and idealistic. We wanted to be molded to the way we each perceived the world had for us and conformity to the world cannot work inside of a marriage.

    I really like how you wrote that you have your own unique marriage and I think this makes sense. We all like the quick easy and universal tips that can be applied for all, but this cannot work. Marriage and relationships in general are like an own individual. You can’t expect what one thing works for one person to work for another.

    Thank you for this great story.

  9. Stephen~ First off, I love your last name; what a gift.

    Stubborn and idealistic: I wonder how many of us are guilty of both of these (I am one), and how often these two traits can skew an amazing relationship. One size does not fit all–individual or marriage; so much truth. Grateful for your comment :)

  10. I am so sorry! I realized in my last comment I called you Tina! Feel free to change that. I honestly don’t know where my head was at there. Sorry about that Cat!

  11. Hi Cat,

    I enjoyed reading your post. I have also been with my hubby for a very long time although not high school but I was 21 years old. as I pondered in your question:
    “How is the love I share with my partner unique, beautiful and outside of the box?” Everything about Jeff is wonderful. I am somewhat speechless when it comes to him because he has taught me so much in such a long period of time we have been together. We have always been very spiritual and meditate together. This has helped us both in our relationship. We visit temples, attend church (his Buddhist, I’m catholic), and do meditation retreats. I think our special connection has been an amazing journey. We both have our ups and downs just like any other couple but so far it’s been unforgettable moments. Whenever I am cranky, grumpy, or PMS *wink* *wink* I just stay in the vibrations of gratitude and unconditional love. Esp now that we are about to welcome our daughter in March. Thanks for sharing your story Cat :)
    I appreciate it

  12. My BFF and I have been married for 27 years and together for 31. Our secret ~ he allows me to be ME and I reciprocate.

    Happiness is being married to your best friend.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  13. Therese~ Faith, learning from each other, gratitude, and unconditional. love.

    Nrhatch~ Best friend husband and allowing the other to be an individual.

    I love both of these and how much we can learn from one another. Thank you for sharing insight on your happy, sustaining marriages :)

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