My goal was to be single until I was 35. Not because I wanted to be overly frivolous or to date around, but because I deeply valued the importance of cultivating one's sense of self.
Though I enjoyed being single, at times it was lonely. I craved the kind of comfort that only a loving partner can provide. Instead of allowing those feelings to govern my thoughts, I simply owned them and consciously chose to honor this precious time to myself.
I met my husband just shy of turning 25. I wasn't looking for love but I fell head first into the most passionate relationship of my life. Things evolved -- fast -- and one day there he was down on one knee with a ring that symbolized my future.
I wasn't the girl who dreamed of a great big wedding. Marriage to me was never a must and I believed in commitment without the certificate; yet I knew without a doubt that I wanted to marry this man. So I said yes.
After we were married everything changed...
The relationship felt different. There was this intense new energy and sense of partnership. It felt really good.
As a married couple we've had our challenges. There have been ups, downs, good memories, bad ones, and everything else in between. Overall, we've grown together as a team.
My own individual soul has been broken open. Skeletons I thought I had dealt with have come to light, and the most intimate pieces of my heart have been awakened.
Could all of this have happened as a non-married couple? Sure, maybe. But to me the marriage aspect of it has played a huge role. There's no running, no hiding, no burying -- you either work to be the best version of yourself or you don't. My vows have helped me to remain committed, focused, and so very in love with my husband and the process.
I truly believe that the person we marry is meant to be our greatest teacher. Here's what's happened so far:
1. I am less self-centered
While I've always been a caring and thoughtful person, I've also always been able to put my needs first. In the beginning, it was hard to let go of that sense of freedom. There's this constant flow of give and take in any relationship, and I was stuck in receiving.
Sharing my life with my husband has made me more aware that my choices have an impact. What I think, say, and do affects others. I make more selfless decisions out of love because I truly feel the joy that comes with seeing other people happy.
2. I take full accountability for the parts of me that need healing
There are parts of who I am that still contain some darkness and my husband has served as a mirror to those areas. I've come to understand that I am the root of my struggles, as we all are. I have an amazing husband and a happy marriage, and yet old themes and negative patterns of mine still creep in. Weren't those just supposed to disappear with the perfect partner?
Nope. In fact, they might come to the surface tenfold now that there's someone there to help us through it. I finally let go of the blame and the attachment to thinking that it was the circumstances when it's all my stuff and mine only.
3. Perseverance, humility, and forgiveness have grown to a whole new level
In a marriage there's very little space for anger. No matter how mad you may be, there's still this whole life together to keep up with. And so anytime we fall, we have to humble ourselves, forgive the other, and keep on trying.
I've grown into these traits as an individual. I've come to terms with not being the perfect partner. I make mistakes, mess up, and yet I try and try again. I've learned that the ideals I held myself to have no room in a successful marriage. Learning to also forgive myself has become much easier with all the practice.
My marriage has taught me self-love and self-awareness of a completely different kind. It has raised the bar on my inner growth as a woman, and has taught me lessons I would have never learned on my own.
No matter what the future might hold, saying yes was one of the best decisions for my soul and for my life.