Nod with me if you agree marriage and relationships are something we rarely talk openly and honestly about for fear of judgement or shame. We highlight the perfect holiday card or vacation post in a faraway magical land as the sun is setting and we’re hand in hand. Yeah right. We all know Instagram isn’t real life.
It’s a blessing and a curse to be creative, driven, passionate, whatever you want to call it. You pour your heart into the projects around you, and often take for granted what’s right in front of you. It’s not intentional of course. It happens slowly over time, and sometimes it’s too late by the time you both realize it.
I share this because the Salted Spirit philosophy aims to focus on “Wellness for Waterwomen,” and relationships are a critical part of our wellness. I had a friend reach out recently about struggles in her marriage, and I was very transparent about my own, so thought it might be beneficial to share my story here.
Two years ago, after 8 years together Chad and I actually had the “should we stay together?’’ conversation. We had hit a wall, so we sat down and worked through the things that were no longer serving us. We called this fun little exercise “10 Things I Hate About Marriage!” That title was meant to be funny when we were dealing with a pretty non-funny topic. Interestingly enough, about 90% of our list and frustrations overlapped, but we discovered we were too scared to talk about them for fear of the unknown or hurting each other’s feelings.
Chad came up with the perfect analogy: We had been driving at full speed on parallel roads working on our own creative projects, volunteering, traveling, etc but our roads rarely if ever overlapped. Instead of being this beautiful mess of crossing and intersecting lines, we were in cruise control alongside one another for miles and miles, giving a friendly wave across the median.
After doing the exercise (first on paper and then verbally) a lightbulb went off that we had no joint ‘northern star.’ We needed something bigger than us, a shared goal to work towards as a team. Chad and I don’t have kids, so we aren’t typically “working together” throughout the day to accomplish tasks, big or small. When he brought that up, we were like, oh, duh.
We started to work backwards through the things that were important to us individually, and what we both needed to ensure this marriage served us better going forward. We were able to start building a beautiful mess of winding and intersecting ideas and roads together again. This has taken months and months of work and communciation. You probably see us showing up together on Instagram as of late, and maybe even poke fun at us for being ‘that couple.’ Trust me, I get it, but I’m cool with you poking fun.
I felt the need to share this because I wish there was more transparency with the tough stuff. When we get engaged it’s all ONE BIG PARTY, but rarely if ever do we get advice for 10 years in when sh*t hits the fan. Couples often see therapists when things are really tough and they’re trying to repair stuff. But what about seeing a therapist when things are pretty good? How about staying proactive and in front of things together, to keep working towards common goals as we grow, evolve and change? I am most certainly not the same person I was 10 years ago when I met Chad. My needs, desires and interests have changed, maybe without me realizing it.
Also, I know it’s human nature to gossip about people’s relationships, marriages, partnerships etc. I heard Bob and Sally are having problems?! (sorry, first names that came to mind). Who did what to who? Did someone cheat? Do you think they’ll stay together? I believe in my heart, and I’m guilty of this at times too, that this level of gossip and judgement is one of the reasons it makes it so hard for people to share their problems.
Its my personal believe that these are some of the primary reasons people close up their problems to family or friends, start self- medicating or even worse.
So I challenge us all going forward – instead of gossiping or pointing fingers, let’s reach out and be a listening ear, a caring shoulder to lean on (well maybe not with COVID now so start with a text) when we hear ‘through the grapevine’ that people may be going through some shit. If we supported our friends and family with love, support and empathy instead of gossip and judgement, how much better would our communities and families be?
Not to mention, if it comes full circle and you hit a roadblock in your own relationship someday, I’ll bet you’d appreciate someone offering that level of support and empathy to you.
Also, this doesn’t mean Chad and I have marriage all figured out, and we’ll live happily ever after on our surfy urban farm in Ventura (although that would be cool). It means that the next time we hit a roadblock, which we will, we will have more tools in our toolbox to communicate and work through things a little more quickly and with more transparency before it comes to an end.
One note I feel called to mention — If your relationship is no longer serving you, if you are in a mentally or physically abuse relationship and not getting the respect and love you deserve, than I am sending you the courage and strength to move through this discomfort and fear and do what’s best for you. I’m one of the lucky ones because my spouse treats me with the utmost respect and love, but I know that’s not the case for everyone out there. If you know someone in this type of relationship, please reach out so they know they have the love and the support they may need to make a more healthy and positive change in their life.
Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment below and let me know if you found my story helpful.