Lessons Learned About Love and Partnership at the End of My Marriage
As I am ending a 20-year marriage, I am discovering new aspects of love that I didn’t expect to find at the release of it. As I am letting go of this situation that no longer works, I am learning so much more about what it takes to really love someone because of all the ways that the two of us suppressed each other’s spirits. Most importantly, I am learning lessons about what a true spiritual partnership needs to be.
When we got married, we were really young – only 20 years old. We really didn’t have good models of communication or healthy relationships from our families. We went immediately into family patterns. He was passive like his dad, not taking on any responsibilities and letting me take care of everything, and I was the caretaker of everything, which is what I was raised to be from my dysfunctional family. At first, this pattern didn’t really bother either of us, but as the years went on, neither one of us fit the roles. By the time we had the emotional maturity to pick different patterns, so much suppression of our own spirits had been done that we resented each other.
In order to be in relationship with him, I suppressed being a spiritual person. I stopped going out to do the things I wanted to do because he didn’t want to go. I stopped myself from pursuing my seminary and educational goals because we had to live where he had work. I think if I asked him, that I have stopped him from being fully himself and taking charge of his own finances and free time.
We are very different people than the ones who married 20 years ago. Only now, we have the wisdom to let each other go so that we can be happy being our authentic selves.
Here is what I have learned about love at the end of my marriage:
- Be independent people coming together as two whole people being in partnership with each other. You can intertwine your wholeness without dependency.
- Choose a partner who is as amazing as you are. He (or she) will keep you on your toes, but also truly be able to keep up with you mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
- Suppressing who you are will only build resentment.
- Be willing to have the difficult conversations instead of letting the resentments build.
- If someone won’t engage you in difficult conversations, they are not truly your partner. One person cannot do all the work of the relationship.
- Be willing to step away from an argument before you damage the other person’s spirit. Take time out to re-center yourself before you engage. It is easier to step away than to undo the crushing of someone’s spirit.
- Relationships are a 50/50 partnership of spirit. Each person’s spirit gets to take up half of the relationship. If someone is taking most of the relationship, they are not truly a partner.
- Honor your own spirit by doing what you love, being who you are, expressing what God created you to be. It is the only way you will be truly happy.
- Give your partner the freedom to honor their own spirit by doing what they love, being who they are, expressing what God created them to be. It is the only way they will be truly happy.
- Most importantly: Love yourself first! No relationship will fix any feelings of being unworthy.