The following excerpt, “25 YEARS,” is written by Marley Klaus. The full text can be found on her wonderful blog The Heathen Learns.
She and her husband— film, TV, and theater director Kevin Dowling— married in 1987 and have two sons. This was written on her 25th wedding anniversary.
I love her timeless insight into what makes a marriage, a marriage!
There’s this idea about romantic love, about finding your “soul mate” as that man of mine surely is, that makes us think that our lives should be entwined, enmeshed, our happiness entrusted to another. I think that idea does more to undermine good relationships than almost any other.
The underbelly of that notion is: so, if I’m not happy – and who is all the time? – it is my partner’s responsibility to at least try to make me feel better, happier. I won’t speak for other people but, in our determination to put how we felt about each other into practice, we kinda got it wrong for a while. In the misguided attempt to make the other happier, we contorted ourselves and our lives into painful and unrecognizable pretzel shapes – or felt guilty when we didn’t or couldn’t.
We thought we were responsible for each other instead of to each other.
We had about two years of hell that stripped our relationship right down to its foundation.
I remember standing on a street, looking across the top of a car at him and thinking: I am willing to lose this but I am not willing to not be myself anymore. I was lucky. He was braver and more determined than I was. He took the first steps to break our dynamic.
At the time, it felt like he was retreating to his corner to work on his own issues, but it gave me the room to do the same. I would never, ever, ever want to go through that again (have I said “never” and “ever” enough?) however, the new relationship that was built on what remained, that foundation, that look, is everything I ever wanted and more.
Boy, I love you, I admire you, I like you and I’m grateful for you and to you for our quarter century together. . . .
What we now know is that marriage isn’t about two becoming one, but about learning how to be yourself in the presence of another.
That, to me, to us, is the secret of a marriage worth having.
If you want more tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond –
check out my book,
How To Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!
Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.