We've changed. (realizations on our honeymoon)
As I sit here at my kitchen table writing this post, I glance out my window. My eyes catch the snow falling onto the cold ground
I feel a twinge of sadness in my heart.
”I miss the warmth, I miss vacation, I miss my honeymoon with my husband," my heart whispers.
…and then I pause. I breathe into this sadness, and allow it.
As humans, no matter where we are in life, we have a tendency to grieve for things that feel out of reach: identities, stories, feelings.
Life can uncomfortable because it is constantly fluctuating. We are always trying to hold on to moments of certainty and safety—grasping for some sense of clarity in this unpredictable world.
Now, I know the anxious and obsessive mind all too well.
You may have been triggered by what I said in the passage above: how things are constantly changing and how things are uncertain.
You may have thought: “My relationship is changing. What if that means I need to let go?”
I’m not saying that.
What I am saying is that we are human beings—that this is life, and things are constantly changing and flowing. One moment we might feel an incredible sense of connection to our partner; in another moment, we might feel utterly disconnected. An hour later we might feel anxious; an hour after that, calmer than ever. One month you might wholeheartedly believe that love is a feeling—the next month, you may come to believe love is a choice, based more on presence and action than emotion alone.
This idea of continual change is especially evident in a long-term relationship. When you’re in the honeymoon or infatuation stage of a relationship—a stage that not everyone experiences, mind you—there is often a sense of certainty, of intoxication. Love and ecstasy might course through your blood; you may experience moments of pure gratification and pleasure. A Hollywood-style idea of love, like what you've seen in movies and magazines, might settle into place. Perhaps you feel you’ve finally found The One to live your life with, forever and always.
Long-term relationships challenge you to accept these changes involved with being human—these shifts in emotion and identity. I really believe that. Not only is your partner changing, but you are changing as well. Every moment, every day—until those changes add up to years of life and growth together.
My husband and I recently arrived home from our honeymoon. In the months leading up to our wedding in September, my husband and I had been fighting more than we have ever fought in our 11 years together. Wedding decisions, family stress, and work commitments amounted to numerous arguments—nights of screaming at each other, moments of misunderstanding, complete with tears and crying. Our communication—which used to be impeccable—seemed to be at a disconnect. It's almost like we were fighting in an attempt to rediscover or reignite our connection. During our recent honeymoon, we came to realize we had been struggling with this for a solid year.
And yet—despite those struggles—we understand that relationships require occasional states of fluctuation, disconnection, and separation.
At times in the past year, we sought outside help through relationship therapists and therapists of our own. Because, my friends: This is life, and we aren’t meant to struggle on our own.
I find beauty in the fact that my husband and I have continued to choose each other through these hardships. Despite the difficulties we’ve encountered, the pains we’ve weathered, and the wounds we’ve tended, my husband and I have chosen each other over and over in the last eleven years.
It wasn’t a prolonged honeymoon phase or period of infatuation that bonded us. It was and is a continual state of choice and presence.
I believe that the choice of love is the most powerful form love can take. More powerful than any honeymoon phase or infatuation alone.
My friends, the honeymoon I just had with my husband was one of the most beautiful, powerful, unexplainable periods of our relationship together.
When friends and family ask about it, I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude, love, and joy.
After the storms my husband and I had weathered throughout the year—the stresses of wedding planning, family drama, and work…
We were rewarded with the deepest connection, love, intimacy, friendship, and passion we’ve encountered in a very long time.
After the struggles that this year ushered in, we were blessed and rewarded with a joyful week—one that strengthened our bond toward one another, reinforcing the sense of commitment and fidelity within our souls.
During our honeymoon, we celebrated the exact day of our eleven-year anniversary.
We walked down to the beach and held each other as the sun set over the ocean. We cried to ourselves, sighing in the beautiful recognition that we had continued each other now for eleven whole years.
And in recognition of the fact that we have changed immensely over the past eleven years. Today we are completely different people from who we were when we met. Our wounds and our pain, our struggles, and the ROCD have forged the strong identities we have today—as individuals, and as a couple.
Looking back on all these years of choosing one another—of putting in the deep work of watering a relationship—we are amazed when we reflect on that growth. What has developed, and continues to develop, is a deep love and respect for one another. The friendship is indescribable, impeccable. Our admiration for one another is something I cannot fully comprehend or express.
Many of my course members reach out to me and say: “I feel as though my relationship with my partner is different—that things have changed. I don’t think we can go back to who we were before.”
There are two things I say in response to this: “First, that is normal. And second, that is good. Relationships are meant to change. In fact, they are required to change in order to deepen your love, presence, and commitment to one another. Wouldn’t you be bored if your relationship was always the same?”
If you’re triggered when you feel that your relationship has changed, I challenge you to shift your perspective and take this in:
It doesn’t matter if your relationship has changed. What matters is what you do about it.
This is the same when it comes to having different values and beliefs. You and your partner can be different—what matters is that you work out those differences with respect, understanding, and love toward one another.
No matter what happens, we can see life in two ways:
1. We can see the changes, fluctuations of identities, moods, emotions and feelings as a bad thing—as something abnormal, or as a sign that it’s time to leave our relationship.
2. We can see changes of emotions, identities, and feelings as an expected, normal, and necessary part of life. In doing so, we can dig deeper into ourselves. We can question the beliefs, biases, prejudices, and fear around our hearts; we can move through a path of love and freedom. After all: Without disconnection, we cannot have connection; without sadness, we cannot have joy; without anxiety, we cannot have calm; without moments of distaste and detachment, we can’t have moments of deep attraction and attachment.
For me, friends?
I choose to move with the flow of life. To understand that life is about change, about fluctuation. With all of that change comes beauty, power, love, commitment, loyalty, respect, and understanding—within yourself, and within your relationship.
And THAT is the most rewarding gift of all: The true love, depth, and connection with the person you choose to love in your life.
My husband, whom I love more than anyone in this complicated, messy, beautiful life. My dear, Joel. Thank you. I love you more than words. Thank you for choosing me despite the difficulties, challenges, and changes that have come our way.
And to you, dear reader, here’s to honoring the beautiful changes that come your way. To lean into the uncertainty with curiosity, to change our perspective on change: how change is part of being human, how change can breed growth, beauty and love. To trust yourself, to flow amongst the current ebbs and flows of life. And to continually lean into this messy, beautiful life with love, wisdom and choice.