I got married once. It seems a little confronting to say that, in the face of it not working out and me now being divorced, but in the context of commitment, I meant it. I just didn’t know how to make it work, and neither did he, so then all the things we said on that day on the beach stopped meaning anything because we didn’t know what do to back it up. And I think many relationships end like that, even though once the words meant everything.
See commitment isn’t the words. I’m really good at words and the words we said were beautiful and heartfelt and meaningful. But then after that? There’s a multitude of action that matters to demonstrate that you meant what you said. And I was so busy looking to him to show me, that I certainly didn’t show him. I wore my disappointment on my face and in my eyes and in all the words I spoke after that. I tried to find ways not to be disappointed; I tried to make myself happy so we could be OK. I tried to make him “better” so we could be OK. I was totally committed to that. But I forgot to be committed to me and to see that perhaps the kindest, wisest and gentlest action was to find a way to unwind the words that didn’t mean what I hoped they would mean and take action to commit to myself. Which, in this case, meant ending our relationship, and thus our marriage.
I am true and honest in saying that in the end I believe I did everything I could to stay married. Until there wasn’t anything else to do. Or say. I did it for my children (I didn’t want them to be hurt), I did it for me (I’m an idealist about love AND I don’t like failing AND I really didn’t want to be a single mother with all my own judgements about that) and I did it for him because I (unintentionally, but judgementally) thought he was “better” with me in his life. Because I like being needed. But that’s a totally shit foundation for a marriage and I can understand why (even when he still loved me) he really disliked me. I wasn’t very likeable. I didn’t really like me much then either and he certainly didn’t get the best of me.
When I work with couples now, I often get them to check in on their commitment to each other and the marriage/relationship (like every other month) because without that, there is no point teaching ways to rebuild intimacy and acts of devotion, because there is no desire to take action, or worse they are waiting for the other person to do it first. And when you are waiting for someone else to do it first, they are usually waiting for you to do it first, and you’re having a love stand-off and having lived that I can tell you THAT IS NOT THE POINT (yes, I am yelling).
And so, it seems to me that it all weaves back to your commitment to yourself. And if you can do that – like totally MARRY YOUR OWN ASS and stand tall and true in your devotion and adoration and commitment to yourself and what you need to be doing to be happy and full and OK – then you are going to have kick-ass marriage or relationship with someone else. You’re going to be so full, that the only option is to give some of that goodness to the beautiful person you chose to share life with. This bit or forever. Until death do us part.