Growing up I NEVER had a desire to get married. In fact, I can vividly recall as a little girl around 8 years old in my bedroom in Germany imagining my life as an adult. I saw myself as a single mom of three, living in a luxury apartment, on my own. I didn’t have a husband or partner. I just saw myself working and raising my kids. I felt peace, love, and harmony.
As I got older, that life I envisioned as a child seemed like more of a nightmare than anything. So I set off in pursuit of the life I wanted instead of the one I dreamed of as a child. Funny enough, here I am over 20+ years later living exactly what I saw (except in a condo from the 70’s rather than a luxury apartment…).
The point is, the reason I fantasized, daydreamed, or envisioned my life that way is because I didn’t have healthy examples of love or relationships growing up. I grew up in a household where domestic abuse was common. As far as anyone who knew us ever saw, we were devout Christians who loved the Lord and lived a holy life. Yet life at home was a living hell. I didn’t know what a healthy marriage looked like but that was my only measure of normal, and I knew I sure as hell didn’t want that!
It wasn’t until I was 19 and started dating a guy I was introduced to that I was able to witness a healthy relationship for myself. His parents had been married for over 25 years and were madly in love with one another. I was skeptical at first. Having grown up in the environment I did, I knew how easy it was to fake being happy on the outside. The thing is, I spent a lot of time with his family. I observed them even when they didn’t realize I was. I paid attention to interactions, words, gestures, behaviors. I watched everything. Not in a creepy way but just in awe.
His dad was a former professional baseball player who became a professional coach. He was on the road a lot which I imagine probably put a lot of stress and strain on the relationship. Yet here they were, two people who were happily married, in love, and genuinely liked each other. Individually, they are some of the nicest, kind-hearted, and caring people I’ve ever met. They raised 6 children together and worked through whatever challenges and obstacles they likely faced over the course of such a long relationship. They’re still together and I believe to this day that what I witnessed between them was genuine.
I paid attention to their interactions. To the way they looked at each other when they thought no one was paying attention. The way they spoke to and about one another. The way they treated each other. The way they shared sweet messages about each other on social media on birthdays and anniversaries. The way that their words were in alignment with their actions. The love, harmony, and laughter that filled their house. The way their kindness and love was so contagious.
That was the first example I not only witnessed but had the privilege to experience of a healthy partnership. For the first time, it made me crave something like that in my own life. It allowed me to open up my mind and heart to the idea and possibility of one day having that in my own life. Many years passed since I witnessed a partnership like that again. I’m happy to say that my mom has that with her husband (whom by the way I hooked her up with… that’s another story for another time but long story short, I created an online dating profile for her and pretended to be her…).
I’ve recently been surrounded by other couples who also have long-term solid partnerships I admire. Both of whom I work with. It’s so amazing to be able to see it and realize that love like that does exist. I admire it and know that one day, that will be the case for me as well. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on being the best version of myself I can be. Because I firmly believe that my life partner will compliment me but not complete me. I am a whole and perfectly imperfect being on my own. It’s just a matter of spending my life with another whole and perfectly imperfect being who values the same things as I do. Until then, it’s just me giving my girls the best example I can of what healthy self-love looks like.