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September 1, 2019

5 Things I learned about Love from my Brief, Beautiful, Brutal Marriage.

Twelve months after leaving my three-year marriage, I am still wading through the murky waters of lessons learned.

Most of these through deep heaviness and healing.

One day, I will have stopped grappling for answers through the fog of our individually perceived failings and articulate more certainly what I know of my once joyful marriage and family life, and how it so quickly unraveled.

But for now, I have these few simple truths to hold onto:

1. Giving love and presence is no guarantee that it will be received. Others are ultimately clouded by their own personal experience and demons.

2. You absolutely cannot elevate someone to the potential you see in them. In fact, doing so is usually a distraction from elevating yourself to the potential you innately hold. (I probably should’ve realised this after a series of relationships where I was basically playing the role of cheerleader and life coach to the other party.)

3. There is no love without respect. Love is absolutely a feeling, but mostly it is a state of being. And once respect is gone, it too quickly disappears.

4. Your partner was never meant to fill all of your needs. Meaning, your romantic or life partner may mean everything to you, but they cannot be everything. They cannot play the role of nurturer/best friend/motivator/advice-giver/provider of lightness and laughs, or of the tough love that is sometimes required. That is what our circle of friends and family are for. Expecting your partner to be everything is absolutely setting yourself up for failure.

5. Being part of a family is one of life’s greatest joys. Far greater than any other goal or creation. The creation of an existence with those whom you love, within the framework of your own making, is truly beautiful, soul enriching, and fulfilling. 

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive. There are layers upon layers, upon traumas, upon deep joy, upon lies, all upon the shaky ground that my marriage was built on.

Less than two months before I apply for my divorce, I am still learning to come to terms with what I have ultimately lost, which can only be somewhat excused by what I have gained since leaving my marriage.

I took my vows seriously. I never imagined anything would separate us other than death. I loved with every iota of my being. I tried to remain conscious and objective. Gentle and committed.

But some of us are guilty of trying to love another to wholeness. Truth is, I was already aware of this trait within myself. My selection of a life partner was flawed. Blame never falls solely on one side, no matter the circumstances.

There is a lot of applause and criticism going around at present for people leaving unhealthy relationships. As if it is taken lightly or done so on a whim. We all need to be held accountable for our inner workings that seek to damage those around us. Even if it is unconscious. Leaving is sometimes the only thing that will bring covert behaviour to light.

Navigating the world after feeling you have it all, then losing it all, is absolutely earth-shattering. But the strongest foundations are laid after the most epic storms. I agree with the rhetoric that women and men standing in their truth and breaking their vows to save themselves—over their marriage, which is an artificial construct—are doing so after exhausting many other avenues. Not to mention themselves, to no end. Those vows are often broken by the untruths that appear long before the final break occurs.

If I could do things differently, go back and tread slowly, cautiously, I may have been able to avoid some of the turmoil and trauma that lay waiting for me. But I sense that this marriage served a great and dear purpose, so I have to believe we did everything right—even when it turned out so wrong.

May we all heal our inner wounds so that those wounds don’t infest those around us.

May we tend to ourselves with gentleness and the diligent care we deserve.

May we endeavour to uncover those parts of ourselves once hidden and nurture them until they no longer seek, poke, prod, or provoke.

And may we have the strength and sensibility to do this entirely on our own.

Returning to love only when the blinkers have come off and the tender heart is truly healing.

~

Melanie Leighton

author: Melanie Leighton

Image: Author's own

Editor: Kelsey Michal

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