What 8 years of marriage has taught me about love...
This week me and my husband celebrated 8 years of married life.
8 years might not sound very long to some, and to others it may feel like a lifetime. To me it feels like a combination of both!
On 12th September 2009, I married my best friend, Will.
We had been together since I was 19 years old - which at the time felt very grown up - but now I realise just how young I really was.
We had a beautiful wedding in the South West of France at my parents' stunning converted farmhouse - the place where I am lucky enough to run my yoga retreats now in fact - and the sun shone for us throughout. Over 100 of our close friends and family joined us to celebrate and it was such a memorable day.
The wedding itself was one of the best days of my life. However, I remember very clearly my father in law saying to us before the day, 'the wedding is for everyone, the marriage is just for you'. And those words have stuck with me over the years.
A marriage is not just about a big party and a change of name.
It is about two people choosing to share their growth with each other. Two people who want to evolve side by side, both as individuals but also as a pair. Of course, you don’t have to be married to make this commitment, but for me it was a big part of the journey.
If you are a regular reader of my blogs you will know that I don’t tend to sugar coat my words. I lean towards truthfulness - even when sometimes that can be messy and uncomfortable. So I don’t intend this article to be any different.
Marriage is hard.
In fact relationships in general are hard. Whether they are with family, friends or a romantic lover - and yes there are beautiful, amazing, shiny 'social media' parts of marriage - but there are also challenging, exhausting, scary and stressful elements - the kind that doesn’t look ‘pretty’ on an Facebook status.
Nobody shares the times when love is hard to see, the times when tears overshadow smiles, the times when it may well be easier to walk away. Why would they - it is a very private part of life. However, sometimes this can create shame and a feeling of 'not good enough' - a feeling that can in itself destroy a perfectly beautiful, messy, form of love.
Marriage is beautiful and so very sacred.
I see it as a great honour to be given the chance to support another person in their life. To stand by them as they transform and unearth their dreams. To hold space for them during challenging times.
There are of course snap shots of ‘rom com’ style relationships with bursts of passion and spontaneous date nights, but the reality is that it is in the chaos, mundane and often murky depths of real life, that pure love can be formed.
Here are 8 things that 8 years of married life has taught me about love…
Love is not linear. It is not a straightforward process whereby things happen in a set pattern - love has ups and downs, it goes back and forward, side to side. Love doesn’t follow a template it provides us what we need in each and every moment to grow towards being the best version of ourselves. Sometimes that is bloody messy.
Trust takes many forms, but trusting in love is probably the hardest thing. To trust someone with your heart is more terrifying than any other part of life. Scarier than setting up a business, buying a house, changing career… the simple act of trusting love is by far the most daunting prospect of all. When you are honest about these fears, you open up for a deeper, more connected love - both with yourself and others.
- What would love do? Before snapping, reacting or making a judgement, asking yourself… ‘What would love do?’... can be a game changer. When you face a situation from love’s point of view, it can shift your whole perspective and enable more compassion and kindness. This is just as important to ask of yourself when it comes to self love, as it is in your relationships with others.
- Nobody else can make you love yourself. No amount of love from another person will change the way you feel towards yourself. And until you begin to love the person you are - you cannot truly let pure love in from any other. You cannot wait until someone else loves you 'enough', to feel peace and contentment in yourself. It is a hard one for sure... but it has certainly been true for me.
- There will always be times of frustration and questions will always arise. This doesn’t mean you are not capable of pure love, it means you are human. There is no shame in the challenging times - don’t be afraid to seek support, communicate and be open. Without this, love cannot thrive.
- You can’t predict the future and no amount of forcing, digging and pressure on yourself will change that. So you may as well go with the flow, enjoy each day as it comes and start each day a fresh. With this in mind, fun and adventure are absolutely essential when it comes to love. Sometimes things can get very serious and we forget to embrace the adventurous spirit we all have - reconnecting back to that can be transformative for love.
- Love is at times painful. When you allow yourself to love something so much that it could rip you apart if it was taken away from you - you cannot help but feel that deeply in every part of your being. But trying to avoid pain by not allowing love in, will only lead to more suffering. Being brave is a prerequisite of love. If you are currently in pain right now, I see you, I hear you and I send you courage.
- We are designed to grow and evolve. If you try and ‘stay the same’ you will stifle your own, and your lover’s growth - leading to stagnation and a feeling of 'stuckness'. This will only lead to resentment. Love and relationships change and if you can accept this as part of the journey and practice non attachment to the way it used to ‘look’, you will be able to sit back and enjoy the ride. And the ride is very likely to be bumpy!
The truth is, love is different for each of us.
We often focus so much on what we are told love 'should' look and feel like, that we forget about how unique and individual it is.
How about we stop forcing love to be ‘love’ and simply allow it to be exactly what it is?
PS... as always, I love to hear from readers of my articles - whether you agree or disagree with my words. Please do email me or comment below if you would like to keep the conversation going.