Friday, February 26, 2010

Marriage and Spiritual Growth

There's a website I love - - that brings all the "unanswerable" questions out and gets a bunch of people to answer them and post comments.

This was the question today:

Before clicking away, I gave it a good think. When I was single, I would have strongly rejected that notion -- naturally, having never been married before, I felt as though I was doing just fine and growing to the best of my ability. But that was before I decided to make myself one half of a committed relationship... and I have to say that it's been such a tremendous factor in my individual spiritual growth that I must agree with it.

Now, backing up, I will tell you that I was not the most mature single girl out there. I flitted and flirted, loved being a girlfriend (though I was never very good at it) and tended toward crazy dramatic outbursts. Tantrums, sometimes. I felt a bit less love-able because no one had wanted me all for himself -- I was always told something along the lines of, "Well, what if something happens?" As in, "What if I move to New York?" or "What if I get that job I really want?" or (what I heard between the lines of dialogue) "What if a better woman comes along?"

So, yeah, I was insecure, too. It's hard to find a young, single girl who isn't, but I definitely was.

And then my husband came along and he wanted me all to himself, effective immediately, and there was no time for me to waste. Sure, I was still dramatic and crazy and I thought he would for sure leave me at times, but he didn't. Once, when I was testing out the waters of our relationship, I told him to "f" off and -- this was a defining moment for us -- he kicked my door shut and told me, "If you really want me to leave, I will. But I'm not playing these games. I won't come back." He must have added, "Is that what you want?" Which it wasn't.

And so then we were married, 12 years ago.

Of that time, I'd say that I've only gotten the hang of this growing thing since about 5 years ago... maybe even less. And our kids are aged 5, 8 and 9, so that means the ups haven't always matched the downs (I did not weather the postpartum blues very well). But the past 5 years have opened my eyes to a couple of things, such as...

1. Sometimes you just need to have a "witness" to your life. This was a line from a silly Richard Gere/J.Lo/Susan Sarandon movie called "Shall We Dance?" and I found that it meant something to me. The small moments seem bigger when you have a witness with you, to know that those things did happen: you did the damn dishes when you were too tired after the party, you got the big promotion, you lost your job, you cut your hair off, you did 15 reps of squats when you usually only do 12, you were sick last week and now you're better. It's nothing big, but it doesn't go unnoticed.

2. The intimacy of loving another person -- and feeling that love back -- makes you fearless. You don't give a shit what someone outside of your life says/does/thinks because you know that this one person loves you -- and that's what matters to you.

3. Somehow, the more committed you are to another person, the freer you are in the world around you, to explore and experiment and play and be who you want to be. See #2.

For example, my husband has been super-clear on his desire for me to write since we were married. In his devotion to me as a wife, he has become a supporter of my dreams and aspirations and has done all that he can to help me achieve my goals; the opposite is true, too, and he's traveling this weekend to check out a business opportunity because that is one of his goals. It is a symbiotic push/pull, but one I enjoy participating in.

The last thing I need to mention is that this is not exclusive for marriage; any committed relationship/partnership seems to come with this sort of intimacy and potential for growth in both the individual and the couple (in my humble opinion).

So yeah, for me, marriage has definitely contributed to my growth. What do you think?

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