My husband and I celebrated our 11th anniversary this past June. Like all marriages, we’ve had turmoil, periods of deep pain followed by seasons of personal growth, and times of great joy. What’s kept us together has been our commitment and love for each other. In my post “First I had to ask for forgiveness” I account the great challenges we faced in our marriage and how through our personal healing and growth, we were able to learn how to love each other in a more honest and profound way.
This last anniversary we had a misunderstanding, and at first we both reverted to old thought patterns of fear of rejection and abandonment. I quickly recognized what was happening. He was shutting down and withdrawing, and in the past I would have reverted to passive-aggressive behaviors that would ultimately result in explosive confrontations which would push him to withdraw even more. However this time, I was able to step outside of fear, and use love to see what was happening, and instead approached the situation in a way that would help us both come out of it with greater insight.
One of the challenges David has had in our marriage has been to confront situations that need to be confronted and speak to me directly. My aggression had played an active role in his withdrawal patterns. This is an area we both have needed immense courage to transform in. For a while I took on the role of facilitating the conversations, because I knew he was still wary of my potential explosive reactions. There was a time when his apologies or any sort of explanation was never good enough, and my role had turned into the aggressor, the one who protected myself at all cost, even if it meant destroying him. Because of this, I knew how difficult it was for David to approach me, so even when I felt he should facilitate the conversation, I took on the role.
It’s been approximately three years since David and I have had an explosive encounter. We have gradually learned to trust each other, and I have become vulnerable enough to share my fears with him without resorting to the “aggressor role.” By the way, vulnerability is something you just have to jump into. There is no becoming it without trying it. It means having the courage to open up to your most honest and raw emotions. It may mean you open up a little at first, and you gradually gain more courage to open up more. Sometimes your vulnerability doesn’t yield the results you may have been wishing for, but I have learned that being vulnerable is not just about breaking down barriers with the other person, more importantly, it is about finding my own strength and courage to embrace life whole-heartedly.
I have learned that the misunderstandings and disagreements between my husband and I have nothing to do with his love for me, nor my self-worth. This past anniversarial mishap brought us yet to a new stage of growth. David must now trust that I will be open to his point-of-view and/or his apologies, and I will be vulnerable enough to walk through the process with him. So we spent part of our anniversary and the next few days in what would mostly be referred to as cordial conversation and silence. He, working on the courage to initiate conversation, and I giving him the space to be courageous. Though I was disappointed at not interacting with him on that day, I immediately recognized the lesson that was taking place, and that I needed love and patience to allow both he and I to experience the lesson. This doesn’t mean there weren’t times during this process that anger didn’t try to seep in or that I maintained my peace the whole time. What it does mean is that I am living through a level of consciousness that allows me to experience and process emotions with a much deeper awareness. Needless to say, by the fourth day, he gathered the courage to talk to me. And what he came to realize was, he could trust me and most importantly, himself. He also learned that in his willingness to be vulnerable, he walked away stronger. What I learned is vulnerability leads to a great sense of love and compassion. That the same energies that allow a beautiful flower to bloom, are the same energies that are allowing our relationship to transform.
The next weekend we went to the Rose Garden in Balboa Park, where we got married. We walked around and smelled the various flowers, then sat down in the exact spot we got married, and each wrote eleven reasons why we choose to stay with each other. Eleven reasons for the eleven years we’ve been married, though we have been with each other for eighteen. Everyday we are grateful for what we bring to each other’s lives.
1. You make me laugh every day
2. I can be myself around you
3. You accept me and love me just the way I am
4. You stuck with me when I was at my worst
5. You allow me to fly without ever questioning my freedom
6. You buy me flowers just because
7. You pay attention to me, so much so that you know my mannerisms and idiosyncrasies
8. You always do whatever it takes so I can go see Carmen or she can come see us, because you don’t mind going out of your way to do things that bring me joy
9. I lover you booty, your hair, and most of all your eyes
10. You love to dance, and you’re not afraid to try new dances like salsa, merengue, and bachata
11. You are not afraid to have a strong woman by your side because you are a confident man
1. Laughs with me
2. Laughs at me
3. Loves to travel
4. No inhibitions with me
5. I can be my “goofy” self around you
6. Loves trying different cultural foods
7. Patient with me
8. Great family woman
10. Big Booty (Of course my husband would include this sole physical feature! LOL!)
11. You are humble and simple and you keep me grounded