We are two weeks into the Ultimate Marriage Advice segment and a great way to start is a list of my favorite weddings around the web. Take a moment (but only if you like gorgeous pictures, dresses, and artsy themes):
- My Pretty Pennies did it up right (and pretty) at home in North Carolina.
- Well Heeled had a beautiful wedding before starting grad school.
- And Jess Lively stole her wedding from my very dreams as she eloped to Paris.
If you missed the first post, “Don’t love, make love,” or the second, “Accept that you have no options”, you can always catch up now. But get excited: the third rule is what makes this whole marriage thing worthwhile and, most importantly, what makes it all possible:
You Don’t Have to Be the Same, but Circle the Same Axis
It’s not some special, “Love” with a capital L that determines who you date and who you stay married to, but rather, it’s the ways in which we are connected to the other person, and driven to cultivate that space of love and shared living – the ability to make a space for ourselves (our self) that is constantly changing and moving in relation to another person, so the space between you both stays the same as you grow and merge and unmerge.
So, you met that person, you felt that knowing, and your marriage happened. But there’s still something to worry about.
Even if this love is different from the baser desires we experience when we’re younger, and even if I have decided to commit to my marriage and forsake all others, humans still change and evolve and grow into different people (something natural and necessary for survival).
So, how can two people change but stay the same?
Well, remember that elementary school puzzle about whether a boat is the same boat if, on a seven year voyage, each part of the boat broke, cracked, or molded over and was replaced? After those seven years, the boat pulls into the harbor with not a single piece of the same wood….Is it still the same boat?
It’s a common question (or fear) to be wondering I’m not who I used to be…. and neither is my spouse. How can two intelligent, driven, and curious people possibly hope to stay married? And I wondered that for a long time myself.
But, even though I fell for my husband almost six years ago, I know that it won’t last as it is now, and I knew that all along, because when we got married our relationship was already so different than it was in the beginning.
The night before our wedding, I passed my soon-to-be husband a note that promised the following: that one of our greatest strengths as individuals is that we are always seeking something better. That we are striving to love ourselves as we are, but always welcome to new opportunities and experiences to change our fundamental self.
By getting married, we are agreeing to bind our paths, but only that we decide to have the same center and spin wildly around it together.
And that is the final secret to a satisfying partnership:
The Ultimate Answer: Marriage Asks You and Your Partner to Allow Infinite Flexibility within a Finite Environment
We are motivated by baser desires, sure. We want attention and flirting and perhaps even cruises and monetary gain (or sometimes just some fro-yo).
But when you pick your moment (for whatever reason) and pick your partner (for whatever reason) and are receptive to the love that is possible, you create something new. The catalyst of those desires — a love of strong biceps, wit, or a butt chin– becomes the playground for your life.
The kind of love that results from your molecular bond develops into something deep and supremely satisfying, so long as it is the product of the two people involved.
Too often, one person or the other loses a grip on that access and distance sneaks in. Or you find that one person never intended to change at all (and certainly did not expect you to change!)
The bottom line is that marriages must be worked at, wanted, and shared, and above all must be intentional.
Marriages can last and people can be happy in them, and this can happen knowing you have chosen to limit your choices in life to one partner– one life, one future– and you can choose to live it joyously.
This series would not exist were it not for the generous ramblings of one Shenan Prestwich. Shenan is an overall awesome beer enthusiast, curator, and poet in the general Washington, DC area.
What do you think? Can a happy marriage last without changing?