“Do you promise to take this person—to unconditionally love, to have and to hold from this day forward—for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death? Will you cherish and honor them for all the days of your life?“
And, I finally said it to the right person.
I have been married before. More than once, actually, but age, immaturity, tragedy, and dysfunction got in the way.
I often lost myself in my codependent personality. I would try and help, change, or fix—too much. I would focus on my partner’s happiness (or lack thereof), leaving mine trailing behind, soon to be lost. If I wasn’t happy, I would often rationalize, minimize, or attempt to control the external dysfunctions. Ultimately, I was only creating more inner turmoil and feelings of disempowerment.
But, as a hopeful romantic, I could justify just about anything in a relationship. People would often tell me that I have a wounded-bird syndrome or the Florence Nightingale effect. The romanticization I was imposing on my relationships was creating an unhealthy ability to see them for what they were.
There were some good aspects of my past relationships. But as I solely focused on that—coupled with minimizing any past traumas and unhealthy behaviors—I often ignored or diminished the marital malady of the now. I was hanging on to the potential of what could be.
Having had relationships with painful breakups due to situational crisis or having to end relationships because they had become diseased and dysfunctional, I knew one thing for sure: I typically and habitually did not have a healthy faithfulness to myself.
So, I peeled back more layers of healing and discovery. I licked my wounds while getting honest with myself about my life, patterns, and character flaws until I was ready for a new fidelity and dedication.
With long-required resolve, I finally said, “I do” and dedicated my attention to the right person.
I vowed to myself to be true—to be authentically aligned, going forward. I promised myself I would take care of my body, mind, and spirit; that was the first priority.
I decided, going forward, I would cherish myself; I would stay centered and honor my well-being; I would listen carefully to my inner guidance.
I said, yes, I will accept myself for where I am at this moment—as I grow from here. I will be honest about my flaws, my defense mechanisms, and my go-to strategies for codependent external fixations. I will go inward mindfully and frequently to self-inquire and keep the focus on me—on what I can change and what I can’t.
I offered my self this pledge of allegiance, and I never felt more real, and truthfully naked, in my life. I nurtured this new relationship with myself, contented, and dedicated.
Then, I met someone.
This certainly wasn’t planned. (I wasn’t even sure I wanted it.) My friend, who accompanied me to a local pub that night, said she saw the undeniable connection. Our eyes met by chance or fate, and the room disappeared. It was as though I knew his soul, and he knew mine.
He wasn’t without fault. He wasn’t without past trauma and baggage. Character flaws were acknowledged, and mistakes were made—and we owned them. His past version of himself wasn’t the man he knew he wanted as his future self. And, like me, he was ready to say yes to his livelihood now. He was ready to peel back the onion layers of his past, to heal his former experiences, and to understand why he stayed in his own dysfunctional patterns and unhealthy relationships. He, too, was willing and eager to commit to his health and happiness.
We talked, and then we talked more. Open communication with true insights and feelings was essential for both of us. I told him where I was at in my life with full honesty and disclosure. He shared with me similarly. We both have children from previous relationships; we both do not desire a big-day wedding celebration but wish to focus on our individual happiness while traveling this path together.
I sometimes wear a ring on my finger as a symbol of our commitments—to ourselves and to each other. According to legend, it was believed the ring finger had a vein that connected directly to the heart. The early Romans called this the Vena Amoris (vein of love). I chose a mystic fire topaz ring. For thousands of years, fire topaz has been believed to have mystical, powerful, healing properties. It is said to be a healing gemstone for truth, forgiveness, joy, generosity, abundance, and good health. A meaning and symbolization I could get behind.
We have said “I do” to ourselves while deciding to be true to each other. We keep our communication faithfully honest and compassionate. Together, with total transparency, kindness, and humility, we coupled for life. All while making an oath of ongoing and individual self-inquiry.
We have adopted the sentiments of author Jim Rohn:
“I will take care of me for you (if you will take care of you for me).”
We offer devout focus to our own happiness and well-being, for the health of our relationship. We are filling our own cups while allowing the overflow to extend to the other. We understand relationship survival rates and that we may not be together forever, but we will do what we can to keep happy while we are.
I now know the most profound relationship game changer is saying, “I do.” And, finally, I’ve found a kindred spirit; we are walking this road of life together and alongside one and other.