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Identity 0

“THE STRONGEST MARRIAGES ARE BUILT ON TWO INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE INTUITIVELY IN TOUCH WITH THEIR IDENTITY.”

Psychologist Erich Fromm describes the paradox of love as “two beings becoming one yet remaining two.” What a simple, yet profound thought.

Marriage is not the losing of oneself, it’s the giving and gaining of oneself. It is the intertwining of two souls passionately and deeply, all the while maintaining a healthy sense of identity, individuality and self-esteem.

I am a total believer in going from “me” to “we”. Merging together from separate individuals into one impenetrable unit. But in the merging of one bed, one bank account, one budget, one bathroom, one family, one wardrobe (70/30 split of course) don’t lose yourself completely.

That doesn’t mean don’t change, don’t grow, don’t endeavour to be a better person. Simply don’t try and find your identity in the other person and leave your values and dreams on the wayside. In order to not lose who you are, it’s important to actually know who you are.

What are you passionate about?
What sets your soul on fire?
What’s your love language?
Where are you most at ease?
What values do you hold dear?
What moments have defined your life?
What kind of family do you want to raise one day?
How do you want to be remembered when you go from this life into the next?

Being in tune with your identity and the many facets (like culture, biology, personality, beliefs, experiences and much more) that contribute to it, will inevitably help you be a better spouse.

Research suggests that the strongest marriages are built on two separate individuals who are intuitively in touch with their identity. Who not only love their spouses, but love themselves (respectfully not egotistically), know themselves (accurately and authentically), and remain true to their values and passions.

“I believe in order to love others deeply we must first love and accept ourselves.”

Not selfishly only caring about our needs and wants but genuinely valuing our existence on God’s green planet. Professor Brené Brown makes this remarkable statement, “The people that have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging.”

In order to be good partners we must first be good to ourselves. We must believe we are worthy of being loved. We must tear down the walls of inferiority and shame and allow ourselves to receive all that we hope to give.

There have been many times in my marriage I have projected my own insecurities onto my husband, Benjamin. I have thought to myself, “Ben doesn’t love me?” When in reality it had very little to do with him and a lot to do with me. We don’t see things the way they are; we see things the way we are. So do you love/like/value/respect who you are? When you look in the mirror do you genuinely like what you see? I am convinced that every person is here on purpose for a purpose. It’s time to see yourself as lovable, important and significant. A nourishing relationship must start within you, before it can blossom around you.

Now maybe all of this “love yourself” business is making you a little uncomfortable. I get it. It can come off pretty cliché and cocky, but that’s only if you miss the essence of what is being said. It’s not about loving yourself in a condescending fashion, looking down on others and thinking you’re the best. It’s about loving yourself despite yourself. It’s about being honest with yourself, the good bits, the bad bits and all the “she’s cute, but kind of crazy” bits in between. It’s about being authentic and sincere.

We live in a world constantly wearing masks. Obsessed with projecting an image of perfection, not realising there’s no substance behind the veneer. We have become a shallow generation afraid to reveal our true self. We filter the flaws, hide our humanity and care more about curating the perfect Instagram than being present and genuine. I think it’s time we say, “get stuffed” I may not measure up, but I am who I am, and I am enough.

The only way we ever become truly happy with who we are, is if we accept ourselves for who we actually are. Marriage requires vulnerability and the stripping back of every facade. Real marriage is seeing someone at their worst and loving them regardless. When you’re dating you can hide the flaws and imperfections.

“Marriage is revealing your whole self. It is complete vulnerability—physically and emotionally.”

I remember on my honeymoon waking up early the first few days to “fix” my face. Ben had never seen me with absolutely no make-up on and I was self-conscious that if he did, he may turn and run (I know it sounds so ridiculous now, but hey that’s what insecurity can do, make a lie seem like the truth). Well let me tell you, getting up early and sneaking to the bathroom lasted about three days.

There’s actually nowhere to hide in marriage! Turn around and that person is there. All the time. Proximity produces intimacy (In-to-me-see!). Thankfully my handsome hubby didn’t change his mind when he saw me naked faced, ha! (And trust me I was no #ijustwokeuplikethis #flawless #likebeyonce). I am actually a normal woman, who wakes up with bags under her eyes, smudged mascara and eyebrows that are definitely not on fleek. Ben is so sweet he tells me I look no different, but we all know that’s a lie.

It takes courage to reveal your whole self, your true self. But that’s what marriage should be—embracing your lover, flaws and all. It takes maturity to stick around when you see every part of a person.

We’ve had a few babies now so I’m pretty sure Ben has seen more than he bargained for (Hey I feel the same way buddy). Surprisingly it’s in those moments of complete nakedness, (figuratively and literally) that the deepest connections are made and complete authenticity can permeate. That is a place of true freedom, a place few dare to tread but I desire to run.

Just because you are married doesn’t mean you can’t have your own opinion and pursue individual endeavours. I absolutely agree that marriage requires getting on the same page and building firmly upon shared fundamental beliefs, but that doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything, all the time. Ben and I are birds of a feather when it come to the core values that make up our marriage (Like integrity, trust and our personal Christian faith) but there are still many (emphasis on many) things we don’t see eye to eye on and guess what; that is actually OK. Marriage is not about thinking alike; it’s about thinking together. We respect (or at least attempt to respect) the other person’s point of view.

Lastly, marriage does not require you to completely abandon your goals and desires. I am in a season of life with two young children, but I am more passionate than ever to pursue the dreams in my heart. I am currently completing a double degree in Psychology and Counselling and spend most nights blogging or writing (often interrupted several times by a toddler who needs just one more cuddle). Is it easy to nurture and release each other all the time? Definitely not. Regardless Ben and I at least choose to try. We choose to continually rally, support and champion the dream of the other.

“We haven’t lost ourselves in marriage, we have added to who we are. Two beings interwoven deeply as one.”

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Issue 36
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