“It was 7 a.m. She had been awake most of the night, feeling anxious but strangely numb. Ashamed, she tried to hide the tears that slowly escaped from her lifeless eyes. She should be happy. She wasn’t, maybe because of the unthinkable situation she had found herself in or maybe because there was still so much to do for the wedding.
She didn’t quite understand but she wasn’t ready to understand either. She turned and looked at the man lying next to her in a place she called home and felt an ache deep within her soul. She ached for something more. She ached to feel real love, to feel what it was like to have her own heart held in the highest esteem. Something just wasn’t right, but she swallowed her pain, choked back her tears, and made pretend it was all going to be okay.
The rest of the day was a complete blur. Sweet, blissful memories were not made that day and it tore her apart inside. She knew that your wedding day should be one of the happiest days you experience, yet she felt no happiness. All she could feel when she looked back upon the day was that same dull ache in her chest. She thought of the man standing there under that apple tree. The same man who claimed he loved her yet days before the wedding, had her crying uncontrollably on the floor of their bathroom while he berated her, attacked her character, and told her what a mistake she was. All she could think of was begging him to just leave her alone and how he just wouldn’t stop. That couldn’t possibly be love but maybe it was. Maybe she was the problem. After all, every person who had ever gotten close to her had told her what a horrible person she was and how impossible it was to love her. Her mind was a thick fog of confusion. Not knowing where to turn or what to believe, she lived this hell for another tumultuous month that felt nothing short of torture.
The day finally came where something awoke within her. That dull ache in her chest turned into a fiery blaze. She realized her worth and would accept nothing less. That day was the day her entire life would change, and she would become the woman she was always meant to be. That woman was me.
I had it all — the cars, the house, the material things. Anything I wanted, I could have. But I wasn’t happy, and it made me realize I would rather be alone. I would rather have nothing and be with my ride or die than have it all and be with someone who makes me miserable.
All too often, I see so many people getting into relationships and getting married for the wrong reasons. It seems we have been conditioned as a society to chase after the people who have material things to offer us. So many of us think we can only get married when we have our sh*t together and can immediately buy a house, the nicest cars, and shiny things to fill up our new house with. I see so many women getting caught up in the size of their ring, the materialistic details of their wedding, and how much money their new husband is going to make for them. But we are missing out on the most beautiful aspect of partnership — the intangible connection you should feel on a soul level.
Is this the person you want to look at every day? Is this the person you want to tell all of your deepest secrets to and share special moments with? Is this the person you can envision holding and caring for your child? Is this the person you can talk to for hours and lose complete track of time with? Does this person ignite your soul and leave you with a smile just from being in their presence?
Don’t get me wrong, relationships and marriages are never easy. They don’t come without the inevitable disagreements, fights, and ups and downs. The key is finding a person you can navigate those ups and downs with, without losing your sense of self. It’s about finding the person you can have passionate fights with because you both give a damn, then grow from it together and laugh about it later.
When you marry someone, you shouldn’t have to change them or change who you are. You both should be able to coexist as you are in the moment you come together and grow together, always supporting one another and encouraging each other to be the best version of themselves. When I got married, I ignored all of the glaring red flags and thought maybe he would change. I thought maybe my love would change him for the better. I thought maybe he would be a better person when his circumstances changed.
The truth of the matter was, he was not the right person for me. It was never meant to be. I chose to turn a blind eye to every unthinkable act he committed towards me, the disrespect he showed me, and his extreme behavioral problems. When I finally realized this, I was so deeply embedded into this life with him, I had no idea how to get out. I felt stuck and as if I had no choice. What would I do if I left? I would have to give up my house and all of my financial comfort. It took me a while to figure out the error in that thinking and realize my happiness was worth so much more than any kind of financial security or material comfort.
Marriage or any romantic partnership to me isn’t about the status quo, the lifestyle, or the size of the wedding or the ring. I’d get married at Taco Bell and wear a piece of string around my finger if it meant spending the rest of my life with the person I adore. We must realize, while we can be drawn to certain people and while fate does play a role in who we end up with, love is a choice. It is not only our own attitude and mental state that attracts to us what we need, even if those are hard-learned lessons, but also our own choice as to who we will love. We can be drawn to someone and feel connected to them but ultimately, it is our choice to love them unconditionally, without expectations. It is our choice to build off of what we initially feel and grow in love with them every day. It is a choice we make knowing it will have its difficult moments and frustrations, but we are willing to take that on and enjoy the ride.
My favorite kind of love story is the one where two people come together who have nothing figured out. They are each on their own separate path, still finding themselves, chasing after their goals. They don’t have the ‘American Dream’ yet but they have each other and that’s all that matters. In a healthy partnership, these two people will have each other’s backs and will support each other relentlessly. They will be a rock to each other, not a hindrance. There is something so beautiful about starting off with nothing, having no idea where you are going but doing it together and building your own beautiful world together. The couples who build their empire together from nothing are the ones I admire. They recognize they are each independent creature, each going after their own dreams, but together, they are that much more powerful.
Romantic partnerships and marriage are about finding that person that lights your soul on fire — someone who makes you want to forget all of the others before them, someone who you can see yourself with and want to grow in love with every day — and then choosing to make it work. It’s not about where you are right now, what you’re doing, where you’re going, what you have or don’t have, or what material things you can offer. The right person will build you up and never hold you back. The right person will keep you on your toes, ensure you’re always following your dreams and attaining your goals, and be the rock you need to stay on task. The right person will choose to love you without conditions, expectations, or demands. If you find it, hold onto that sh*t and don’t let go.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Christina Feldermann, 35, of Michigan. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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