Or domestic partnership, or romantic relationship, or shacking up, or whatever it is when two people who love each other commit to living under the same roof and share (knowingly or not) all the little details of their lives and psyches.
In my life, this is ground zero. It’s where I work out who I am and how I act in the world in the safe microcosm of my nest. It’s where I practice getting over my foibles and changing my perspective. Sometimes this is a solo project, and sometimes I ask my husband for his input.
Early in our relationship we defined its boundaries and our general roles. We also know that these can be renegotiated if need be.
I married someone that I trust.
I practice loving him through his trails, self doubt and perceived faults and it teaches me to love myself more fully as well.
I love him even when he feels like he is a failure or wishes he were different then he is. When I am in that state and he loves me, it is the sweetest blessing.
I tell him before he does difficult things that no matter what the outcome I love him and see his goodness. I do not pin his worthiness of love on small details. It is his overall nature, the part that is not expressed in words, the way it feels to me to be hugged by him, that I love most.
I relax into that wordless knowing the way I do into a warm bath. My body recognizes his. My skin loves his skin.
It’s not about food in the sink drain or socks on the floor. It’s not even about how he can cook vegetables in the most delightful ways and is so much better at grocery shopping them I am.
There is some part of this that is about trusting myself to be who I need to be to keep this good thing going. Both of us are inspired by and supported by the other. We aspire to be worthy of each other’s love. We both value personal growth, learning, and helping others. Also, gourmet food, wine, and German Shepherds. We both feel deeply thankful to be together.
That does not mean that we have not been through lots of emotional discussions, had hurt feelings, or had to talk for hours and hours and hours, especially early in our relationship. One of the agreements we have is not to sweep anything under the rug, no matter how small. This has taught me courage, emotional resilience, and honesty. I take these qualities out into the larger world though my work.
Doing your best to love another individual from the true north of your inner compass despite and because of your own individual insecurities and strengths is a wild trip. Sometimes it feels so arduous that I feel like I can’t do it. Sometimes it feels so marvelous and effortless it’s surreal.
Loving another person through your own crap and theirs is not easy, and offers many hidden gifts.