What Marriage Has Reminded Me About Myself

Josh and I met because we were destined to meet.  We were laughing the other day about our circumstances beforehand.  What clueless kids we were!  I was pissed off for being assigned to Spanish. I was better than that, capable of far greater challenges, completely devastated by this silly little existence.  Josh was re-classed from SERE school (AF special forces) into munitions and he was pissed off for being undervalued and having his talents wasted, devastated by this silly little existence.  We thought we were so damned amazing.  Of course we had to be together.  We had to teach each other lessons about how we fail miserably and how we can succeed.  I already knew all these things about myself, but I never recognized their power to destroy or maintain a relationship.  Your personality is like a toolbox... if you use the tools correctly you get the job done, but if you try to saw wood with a screwdriver you're in for a lot of pain and frustration.

1. I am impatient
We only dated for 6 weeks.  We got married in jeans in front of a judge with no witnesses on one random Tuesday when we both happened to have work off.  We ate at a Denny's and didn't have a honeymoon.  Every assignment we had, we strove to change before it was officially over.  The only one we completely rode out was Spain, but not for lack of trying.  Josh fought hard to leave early and he lost.  Being impatient is a product of future-mindedness.  On one hand it's great because you're the ones who want to help change the world.  On the other hand you have to constantly remind yourself to spend time in the present so you can find gratitude.  Our biggest teacher for this lesson was the 38 month separation we were forced to endure.  Focusing on the future kept us sane, but focusing on one day at a time was vital as well.  It was an interesting mix and we had plenty of practice.  You can do anything for at least one day.  Suddenly it has been over 1,000 days and you're still going.  We knew it would eventually have an end if we just kept taking that one step at a time.  It's staying in the present while focusing ahead on that one point.  Our impatience makes us this amazing team with a focus on the future, but can also get us into financial trouble by spending the future in the present lol.

2. I am stubborn & competitive
I've been married to my husband for 12 years.  Most of them have not been good.  Did we divorce?  Nope... but, not because we're just that amazing.  We're stubborn as hell and neither one of us wanted to be the one who "gave up" or quit.  Our fights were explosive and accusatory... you find a fault? oh yeah well SO DO I!  You're the one that has to change, not me.  We got nowhere because we never listened, just debated.  Stubborn means you don't give up.  The one I was most competitive with was myself, and I refused to "fail".  I wanted to figure out the perfect solution to this problem, this relationship.  Both of us secretly tried to find answers, but rarely came together to find answers.  What we finally realized is that when two competitive, stubborn asses work together they figure that shit out... because we refuse not to... and it's deeply rewarding, but also frustrating and difficult.  It's a delicate dance at first, but when we stopped blaming each other and just started helping each other it served our egos in the best way.  I find exquisite joy in being his confidant, holding and protecting his secrets.  I won and so did he.  We're in so deep and I'm so far ahead that no one could ever beat me at this race with this man.  He is my prize and he's the most amazing person I've ever met... and I know him better than anyone else (winner again).  We are each others' biggest fans.  Making each other our #1 killed the competition we had going against each other, and also killed the idea of anyone else entering the competition.  We're a true team now.  Only took us about a decade lol.

3. I am afraid of criticism.  I'd rather give in than fight
This was very similar to the stubbornness and competition, but adds another aspect to the holes we were throwing each other into.  Sensitivity to criticism.  I fear criticism like the plague.  Every time I write something, no matter how innocuous it may seem (well, except for poetry, which is why I love it so much).  As soon as I hit that publish button I walk away and can't come back all day.  I can't see the comments right away because I'm terrified of what they will say.  When you're so afraid of not being accepted, you stop being honest.  When someone loves you and knows how sensitive you are to criticism, they stop being honest too.  After long silences and little "plays" on reality followed by intense blow-out fights, we finally figured out we're both sensitive to criticism, but our biggest critic is ourselves.  Now we speak a different language.  We don't talk about each other, we talk about what we say to ourselves and we are never another critic.  We discuss what we want to change, are ridiculously open about the process, and we only do it for ourselves, never for someone else.  Yeah we both benefit from transformation, but we don't pressure each other to do it.  We support.  We finally realized the attacks were based on fear so we took the fear out of our relationship.  I never fear talking to him because I know I'm the critic, and he's my fan.  Same goes for him.  It's so much easier to see what someone else does to themselves than it is to see what you're doing... we're mirrors for each other and we deeply respect our own personal journeys and the time it takes to make them.

4. I am idealistic
As much as I claim to hate romanticism, I'm still a woman with estrogen and progesterone who grew up on fairy tales, and I love our story.  I even love the dramatic parts where we almost split up.  I live in a fairy tale.  This can create a lot of tension because of unrealistic expectations.  I felt the pull of society, telling me that having high expectations is cruel.  Then Josh told me he felt the opposite, having no expectations of him means I have no faith in his abilities.  Once we started living our story instead of the one we thought was status quo we were a lot happier.  I expressed my expectations, and guess who happily rose to the occasion... yeah, he's my knight in shining armor.  I am married to someone who loves to face challenges so my idealism isn't idealistic and fantastic with him, it is entirely possible.  He proves me right all the time.  I have never met another person so successful and driven.  I admire him and he's teaching me how to be more self-confident.  My idealism could be detrimental to someone else, but to him it's like fuel.  It's another point to aim towards, fire at, and destroy.  He gets an immense sense of satisfaction from hitting all these high points and says he couldn't do it without me.  Ok, I'll take that :)  When you're both idealistic you find points to agree upon and paths to take together.  I love it so much.  It feels like we exist for a higher purpose and we're just conduits of energy when we sync up like that.  I feel incredibly supported because his idealistic image of me is one that I appreciate and head towards however I can at the moment; walk, crawl, sprint, trudge, just stare at in defeat.  He sees my true potential.  He's at my finish line cheering for me, but I'm running my own race.  I do the same for him.

5. I have issues with trust & vulnerability
I am independent.  I have always been rebellious, especially when it comes to anything having to do with men & women.  I hate gender norms and I love breaking them.  I always needed to prove I'm stronger than the boys.  I get pleasure from breaking female gender stereotypes like physical strength (yeah, I can do more pull-ups than you), food consumption (screw you all for thinking I just want a salad), fear (I ain't afraid of that spider).  I suppose this ties in with my competitive side.  I never want to need anyone or anything, but especially a man.  I am a self-control worshiper.  I can control my damn biology if I really want to (hahaha, silly girl)!  I can give up anything at any time and defeat its hold on me because I am strong and independent.  Needing to be in control made me very emotionally guarded.  Vulnerability is another word for weakness.  Trusting someone gives them power over you.  This is all true, but it's not bad if the person is trust-worthy.  Josh and I both pride ourselves on our independence and strength.  He's a knight and I'm a queen.  Whatever vulnerabilities we have aren't apparent or easily shared lest someone use them to destroy us.  We were always on guard and ready for betrayal.  I remember trying so hard to get him to open up to me, to trust me to help him.  Meanwhile, I was doing this from up high on a wall in a tower screaming down to him from a protected distance.  Once the mutual trust finally happened (little by little over time) and we proved ourselves to each other, we're pretty dang intertwined.  A queen needs a knight and a knight needs a queen.  We take this symbiosis seriously and treat it with care.  It's precious and precarious and was hard to come by.  Having one person I trust that I'm also vulnerable to helps me feel a little better about trusting others to not destroy me at the first opportunity.

There are so many other lessons I have learned by being married to my Joshua.  This was the kind of relationship we were supposed to have because our personalities, our biology, dictated it as such.  Monogamy and intense dedication to each other.  Other people in other relationships are completely different.  The best thing anyone in a relationship can do to get the most from their interaction, is be yourselves and try hard not to let others tell you what that should look like.  Who cares what that looks like to anyone else.  Of course it won't make sense to them, they aren't you!  I don't judge other relationships because... why the hell would I?!  Not only does it not affect me, but it isn't supposed to and it never will unless I am destined to learn something from them.  I have faith those people are interacting how they are because they're supposed to and I am not going to get in the way of that.  No one could have stopped Josh and I.  A lot of what we did didn't make sense to anyone else.  Why would it?  I remember that when dealing with others.  Just because I wouldn't do it, doesn't mean it isn't right for them or it isn't something they need.  I do not know better than whatever cosmic force brought them together.  Anyway.  The point I was on... Focus on each other because that's all the relationship is about.  Not necessarily forever, but at least until you know you've learned what you're supposed to.  They say relationships are mirrors that show you what you need to see.  I believe that.  I know there's more to learn with Josh and I welcome it.
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