I remember the death of my marriage clearly. It was a little over a year ago and my husband then and I made it back from Oklahoma. We purchased plane tickets to visit my older sister and her family; it was my birthday. Sunday night, we made it back from our trip; by Wednesday…well, things changed.  We had an argument that evening (Arguments became our norm) and both of us went to bed upset. I woke up the next morning for work with a really terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Before I left home that day, I woke my husband and said “I love you. Do you love me forever?” He simply replied, “Yes.” I was able to leave the house in peace with his answer.

As my work day went on, those awful feelings that I felt earlier that morning came back to haunt me. As I began to feel nervous and anxious, I started to ponder our previous argument. We both went to bed angry, therefore the situation was still yet to be remedied. When I came home that day, I sat down with my husband, letting him know I was still upset. “I am still angry,” I continued, “And I want to feel like I have been validated.” My husband just looked at me with discontent. We both sat on the couch quietly, pondering the situation. When he finally spoke, the words that came out of his mouth were rather troubling. “I don’t understand what you are saying.” I added. “Are you thinking we should get a divorce?” Gathering his thoughts again, he replied, “Yes. I think our marriage has run its course.”

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The death of my marriage was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. I was helpless in a burning flame. I became insecure and started believing that I did not deserve love or attention from anyone else (Still recovering from the fire). I was a broken, hot mess who needed healing. I began reading many books/articles about relationships and monogamy. I reflected back on my own marriage, searching for answers, while retracing each step. I did everything in my power to understand what happened and what role I played in the failure of my marriage (Always takes two to tango). Here is what I found:

  • Self love should be present before kindling a relationship. How can you love another if you don’t love yourself?
  • Each partner must continue to practice this self love throughout the marriage.
  • A marriage can only survive if both partners are willing to do what it takes to make things work.
  • Open and honest communication at all times (Yelling, belittling, or nagging isn’t communication).
  • Long distance relationships rarely work, especially without an end goal in sight to be together.
  • Gratitude and love should be expressed as often as possible.
  • Marriage takes selflessness, constant understanding, and acceptance (Acceptance is key).
  • Both partners need to TRUST each other and do things to strengthen and build upon that trust.
  • Marriage takes commitment.
  • Marriage takes forgiveness (This is constant).
  • Without unconditional love, no marriage will survive.
  • It is essential for both partners to be supportive and loving through difficult times.
  • Don’t make any hasty decisions out of anger or disappointment. Wait until you can think on your feet.
  • RESPECT for each other is fundamental (Alone, with friends, or together).
  • Friendship is important in a marriage. Think, would you treat your best friend the same way you are treating your partner?
  • Both partners should ultimately be working toward the same end goal (Makes things easier).
  • Maintain your individuality, while still being a husband or wife.
  • Transparency is VITAL.
  • Integrity is a must.
  • A firm belief in God never faileth.

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Some of you may disagree with the above, however, this is what I gathered from personal experience. Several of these points lacked in my marriage, which is why I saw it crumble. First off, our relationship was long distance. We were only together for the first eight months of courtship as well as the last eight months of our union; my ex worked overseas. Because of the hardships we experienced from him being away from home, we eventually lost respect for one another. When the respect was gone, trust went out the window (Without respect, one is more inclined to hurt someone he/she loves), and all of those issues took a huge toll on our communication efforts. Needless to say, we ended up being distant roommates instead of husband and wife.

Here is the shorter version to all of this: A marriage or relationship cannot live when fueled by selfishness. To be in a committed relationship (Especially marriage), one must become “Selfless.” My older sister recently said “One doesn’t lose [or need to lose] individuality in marriage, rather see the opportunity to serve and love another with all capacity.” If you are unhappy in your marriage, I challenge you to take a few steps back and see the bigger picture. A good way of doing this is writing your thoughts down on paper. Think, “Why am I so unhappy in this relationship and how can I become a greater version of myself?” Strive to live up to your potential as an individual and as a partner. Then, place yourself in your partners shoes. When you understand what your husband or wife is struggling with, you can serve as a loving support in his/her life.

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During hard moments, some of you may think “I made a mistake in marrying this person.” Though such doubts are normal, it is my personal belief that some of us are drawn to individuals who may need our help or who can help us. In my eyes, sometimes things can happen for divine reasons and with this, I encourage you to become a beacon of light for your partner instead of a grey cloud. Tell your partner how much you love, appreciate, and accept him/her as a person; as a daughter or son of God. If you could see your partner through the eyes of the Lord, you would understand how special he or she truly is.

I pray that you can take these suggestions and apply them within your partnership as necessary. It might take jab at your ego or bring you to your knees. However, if you and your partner mean the very best, isn’t your relationship worth saving? May you both find solutions by expressing unconditional love and selflessness. For if you can master the great lesson of marriage, you are surely on the path to reaching your highest potential.

God bless your union.

Photos by Cindy L. Chatwin

http://chatwin.wix.com/photography