I’ve never seen a bride cheering down the aisle towards her waiting groom, “Yes! I’m about to be challenged!” And I’ve never seen a groom celebrating, “Yes! I’m about to be thrown into adversity!” as he watches his bride walk toward him. I’ve never heard vows that say, “…I promise to love and cherish unless you spend money on things I don’t agree with…For better or worse unless you stay at the office too late…til death do us part unless you stop meeting my needs…” We rarely enter a relationship with the intent to grow. And yet, that is exactly the point.
The most basic lessons in personal character begin behind closed doors. Where no one is watching. This is where we learn, or rebel against, the fine art of humility, honesty, and negotiation. This is where our words and actions mean the most. Our raw behavior around those we’ve committed our heart to honor and protect speaks volumes about the kind of person we really are. In times of stress, do we throw the vows out the window? Or, do we use the stressful times as the opportunity to tape the vows to the fridge to decide if we really want them to mean something?
Consider these words from Bishop Bronner:
“You have to have someone who believes in you. Someone who can look at the fallibility on the outside and see the divine treasure on the inside. A wise counterpart that can see beyond and see more than meets the eye. They see into your potential, into your dreams, into your capacity, into the limitations of your life, and from all that, they see a seed of what you can become. They see not only what you are doing, they see what you are working on becoming. They have the ability to fan what is just a spark into a flame until the configuration that’s been brewing inside you comes to life.”
I’m willing to bet you had the same perspective I did as you read those words: “How nice it would be to have someone believe in me that way!” Indeed. So many of us enter into relationships with the idea of finding such a person. A man or woman who will meet our needs. A person who will take care of us, respect us, believe in us. Someone who will never abandon us.
What if you and I were that person? Read the quote again, this time with the perspective that you are the one to believe in your partner in such a selfless way. You are the one who will look past the fallibility on the outside to see the divine treasures on the inside. Stings a little; right?
We want so much to FIND “our person” that it never occurs to us to BE that person for someone to find. We want to FIND the perfect mate but we rarely work to BE the perfect mate.
It’s one thing to be married for decades and to celebrate staying together. It’s a whole other thing entirely to be fulfilled in the process; to enjoy the ride, to embrace the growth, to work at self-less-ness, to stop pointing the finger at the needs they are not meeting for you and start making a list of the needs you can meet for them. I wish I would have learned this lesson 25 years ago. Happily Ever After is intentional. It starts with me and you, learning how to love first, believe first, grow first.
As we celebrate our silver anniversary and look back at the journey, I can say that we started off selfish and needy. But, oh the sweetness of embracing humility. We are most definitely living a Happily Ever After!
Tara Hoke Schiro is a Los Angeles based author, podcaster, blogger, and designer for Wear Your Character. All can be found at www.TaraSchiro.com