Because Sweet Husband and I will be celebrating our second anniversary next month and because I feel like I talk about our relationship quite a bit, I’ve decided that at least for the next little while, my posts onThursdays will be about marriage – some of the issues we face, the things that work for us, articles, perspectives, posts that I find useful in helping us create a stronger bond. Feel free to share what is working for you in your relationship as we spend some time focused on marriage.
I spent yesterday in New Orleans – I’d planned to spend the day writing and taking pictures, having a few drinks, eating some good food. And I did some of that, but the entire time, I kept thinking, “This would be so much better if Sweet Husband were with me.” I don’t know that he would have been happy tromping around the city (I must have walked 12 miles yesterday…or maybe just 3. But it was a lot) or sitting and watching me write, but I missed having him with me. It just wasn’t the same.
It’s somewhat of a surprising revelation that I’d rather spend time with him than without him, which is much different than it sounds. I love him, I love spending time with him. But I am also independent, and I believe that each partner in a relationship needs to have independent interests and time to themselves.
I stumbled across this article – all about the right reasons to get married. There’s only one according to the article:
There are beautiful marriages. But marriages don’t become beautiful by seeking happiness; they become beautiful by seeking something else. Marriages become beautiful when two people embrace the only good reason to get married: to practice the daily sacrifice of their egos.
This comes very close to my theory about love – which is that while we must look out for our own happiness, we also are happiest in a relationship when we are able to put our egos aside, sacrifice our sense of self for the greater good of the relationship. That love is essentially a sacrifice of the self.
While I love my husband and wouldn’t have married him if I didn’t, I find the sacrifice of ego to be a huge challenge. I frequently find myself fighting against what I want to do and what’s best for our relationship. Having lived on my own for so long and having been responsible for for myself, it is difficult at times for me to remember that it’s not just me anymore. I can be very selfish and self-centered. I often have knee-jerk reactions that put myself first and then I have to walk myself back from them. Sometimes I remember to do that before I open my mouth; other times I have to apologize and publicly backtrack.
Those are, of course, the easier moments: when I recognize that I’m making a mistake and can actually make that sacrifice of ego and correct it. The much harder moments come when I know that I’ve been selfish, that I’ve put myself ahead of my marriage, and I do nothing. The hell of it is, though, I torture myself with recriminations when I screw up. There are times when I cannot for the life of me just suck it up and apologize.
Admitting when I’m wrong is often difficult for me. As Dr. Kelly Flanagan says,
But if you commit yourself to marriage, you commit yourself to the long, painful, joyous work of dismantling your ego-walls for good. Then, the moment can last a lifetime.
It is painful when I realize how short I fall. The blow goes straight to my ego, and I am reminded again that this relationship is about submitting myself to the relationship. It’s not about losing myself in it – please don’t misunderstand me. I can remain true to my desires and the things that I want to accomplish, but I also have a much greater responsibility as a part of this marriage. Putting not necessarily my self but my ego aside is often what is best for the marriage, and as I get closer to make the best decisions for our marriage each day, I find it is good for me and for us.