What are you bringing to the marriage? This is a question that is asked both verbally and nonverbally; during the dating period, during the engagement and throughout the marriage; we are asking this question. Essentially we are assessing our worth and the worth of our partner. Will we be loved is the ultimate question at hand. But what does that mean? What does love mean? What we’re really wanting to know is, will we be safe, supported and happy.
Love is a loaded word, so loaded that some people can’t even say it or hear it. And yet some people say it freely with varying degrees of meaning. “I love this cake; I love that dress; I love this truck; I love this job…” I love you! I love you? I love you.
Love has differing meanings and levels of intensity
How often do we look in the mirror and say to ourselves ‘I love you’? Do you love yourself? As an individual, do you feel safe, supported and happy? Do you listen to yourself and respond in kind? When you need protection from an overly demanding situation—friend, family member or coworker, do you take the time and space you need to feel safe? When you are trying something new—job, school or fitness program, are you supporting and encouraging yourself with positive self-talk? Or better still, are you supportive of yourself when you try and fail? Do you comfort yourself with a warm beverage or bath? Do you take time to celebrate yourself, your accomplishments or your contributions to your relationships (personal or professional)? If you can answer yes to these questions, you are ready for marriage. If your answers were less than yes, you can easily remedy that by starting now.
Be the love of your life and you will attract the love of your life
This is true regardless of your relationship status. You will not attract someone who loves you more than you love yourself; it is scientifically impossible. You will not allow yourself to receive more than you believe you deserve.
If you are dating, you will attract suitors who love you as much as you love yourself. If you are engaged the dynamics of your relationship will change as you express self-love; your partner will either engage becoming more loving, or be put off by this enhanced version of you and choose leave the relationship. This is good information to have before making the long-term commitment of marriage. And if you are married and decide to practice self-love, it might be helpful to first give you spouse a heads up by expressing your intent and desires in the relationship. Since you’re already married, there’s a good chance he, or she, wants you to feel safe, supported and happy, and is willing to join you in this endeavor.
Self-love in not an invitation to be a selfish, self-centered jerk
Self-love is about being the best version of yourself and sharing that with another who can give and receive it in the manner in which you intend and deserve. Love is generous, and self-love is about being so full that you overflow with the courage that comes with being loved, and are ready for marriage and the storms that will surely come; because that’s life.
Know who you are and what you like
Knowing yourself allows you to effectively communicate what you need to feel safe, supported and happy. Loving yourself insures that you will. When we love someone we take extra care to insure he or she is safe, supported and happy. We call the people we love, protecting, defending, supporting them, encouraging them, comforting them by spending time, exchanging gifts, dreams, failures, laughs, tears, hugs and kisses; we show them that they are important to us.
We share who we are with the people we love, and the most important part of being able to do this, is knowing who you are and what you enjoy. If you enjoy walks in the park or on the beach, then take walks alone and use this time to check in with your heart and your head; take this time to reflect on who and where you are. If you find that you do not enjoy being with yourself, this is good information as well, and certainly worth exploring, before expecting someone else to enjoy being with you. If you enjoy biking, hiking, swimming, camping, dancing or any other fun and exciting activities you’ve listed on your profile, do them alone and notice what it feels like to be safe, supported and happy in your own skin doing what you love, and then share this with your mate. While he or she may not enjoy everything on your list, there should be a few that you two can share. Ideally, this will enhance the experience for you both. If not, keep doing what you love and explore your partner’s list and discover where you two overlap.
A good marriage demands all the love you can give and that’s easiest to manage if you’re already full love yourself
Ideally, marriage is a union of two whole individuals that will enhance and expand each other. “You complete me,” is a line from a two hour and nineteen-minute movie, and has no place in a lasting partnership. Going into a marriage expecting to be ‘completed’ or to ‘complete someone else is a great disservice to both parties. While you may not enjoy or celebrate all parts of each other, enjoy the ride. Love yourself and your partner through the storms and the celebrations. So that when the question ‘what do you bring to this marriage’ arises, you can say without hesitation ME.
Be all of who you are and enjoy all of who your partner is and make something magnificent together.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Afrah Caraballo