Have you noticed that we are living in difficult times? As we approach Thanksgiving and stop to count our blessings, even in the midst of the tragic and unsettling, let’s not forget to be grateful for the wonders found in a good marriage.
One of the most wonderful blessings is how a healthy relationship leaves us feeling about ourselves.
Some people are just born confident. It becomes obvious even as they take their first steps and utter their first words. They are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Others are born into families that cherish and delight in each of their children. Some children are able to internalize this and when the world of school and siblings gives other messages, this child does not buckle under the pressure to redefine herself/himself.
The rest of us find ourselves struggling. We live in a world that influences all of us. Many end up feeling inadequate and less then. After all, if the seeds of low self- image are sown, we will be better consumers. So our media sows those seeds. Open any fashion magazine, attend any movie, listen to any advertisement and you will discover that somehow you are lacking in some predetermined way.
Then there is the constant pressure that women feel to be acceptable, agreeable, pleasant, nice, kind, compassionate and submissive. Our strength is often viewed as a threat rather than an asset. Is it any wonder that a sense of self is missing in so many of us?
Certainly there are things that make us feel proud of ourselves:
the satisfaction of a job well done; professional recognition; the loyalty and respect of our peers; good friendships and children; a personal faith in a God whose very character is love. He cannot, not love. These things help us recognize our worth.
Yet, there is nothing like being in a committed, loving, long-term relationship with a partner who values us.
He/she values us and encourages us to be the best version of us that we can be. They do not try to mold us into their image they delight in who we are.
When our self-esteem is shaken by an unkind remark or an insensitive innuendo there is nothing like having a safe haven at home. Someone, who does not minimize the bruise to our ego but rather encourages us to remember what is true about us
There is something amazing when we find ourselves loved when we have no makeup on, when we have just acted immature, when we question and challenge, when we find ourselves sick and out of sorts.
A client put it so well when she said, “all of my life I believed that I was too this and too that. Too outspoken…too weird…too smart for my own good…too enthusiastic…too loud… How incredible that my husband loves those things about me.”
Few women believe that they are beautiful and so when a spouse treasures our beauty he helps us find it in ourselves.
Marriage requires us to move way out of our comfort zone. It requires both adjustment and accommodation. It is a complicated give and take.
The lessons we learn in living with our mate only benefit us in the other facets of our life
We learn to be curious and to welcome another person’s perspective. With that learning we become less self -absorbed. We learn to forgive. We learn that that there is a mountain that is just not worth dying on. We learn not to take ourselves so seriously and in fact to laugh at ourselves. We learn to be vulnerable. We learn to delay gratification and to give when we do not feel like it. Our skin gets a little thicker and we are not so easily bruised. We learn to stay emotionally connected to our partner even when he/she thinks, feels, and behaves differently. We learn to say, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” We learn to move from the world of me to the world of we. We learn that the only person we can change is ourself. These lessons can be transferred into our professional life to great advantage. They only help us succeed with other people.
When one has an encouraging partner one feels more personally anchored and also,as if one has more to contribute in the world. You enter the world, no matter how scary, from a loved place, a grounded place and with a sense of security.
Don’t get me wrong I know not all relationships are like this. There are destructive relationships that attempt to destroy a husband or wife’s sense of self. Harsh scrutiny from a critical demeaning spouse is hideous.
Yet when marriage works it helps us to be ourselves in the relationship and to allow our partner to be him/herself as well.
Francine Prose wrote these words.
When we’re fortunate, a kind of alchemy bubbles inside a marriage, creating a fuel that powers-women and men-in their confident course through out the world.
There are other reasons, backed up by research, that we can be thankful for a loving marriage. Married people live longer. They save more. They heal faster after radical surgery or illness. Their sex life is more satisfying. Their heart is stronger and their confidence is more stable. They are just plain happier. That’s not a bad list!
This Thanksgiving let’s rejoice in the wonders that a healthy marriage can bring.
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…