There was a long stretch of time after my divorce that I was not sure I would ever marry again. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I was afraid of losing myself again. I had spent so much time focused on everything but me in my last relationship that I didn’t recognize the person I had become when I finally got out of it. But being single allowed me to take the time to understand what mattered to me. I was able to think about my purpose and passion in life and even more important, why it truly matters to me. I’ve found it’s easier to stay true to yourself when you know what you value and moreover it’s easier to recognize when those things that are important to you are at risk of being compromised.
In order to help stay true to myself, I had to find a partner who understood me and my needs and accepted that while we were always a team, I was also Heather- my own person with individual needs. I had invested a lot of time working on me, gaining my confidence, and learning to have a deep love and appreciation for myself. The idea of risking all of this was a little frightening to be honest. I finally got to a place where I liked who I was and did not want to lose who I had become.
It wasn’t until I realized that I could be in love again while also staying true to myself at the same time, that I found myself desiring to get married. Much of this realization had to do with meeting Michael, the man that I plan to spend the rest of my life with as he is my perfect match, but equally it had to do with the confidence I had to keep staying true to myself.
One of the biggest ways I am able to stay true to myself is that Michael encourages me to maintain the things I love doing, even if he doesn’t enjoy doing them. We all have those things that matter to us, our rituals that hold a special place in our soul and bring us joy. It’s important not to lose sight of them or stop doing it because someone else doesn’t care for it or understand it. For example, I love cities, the smell and energy of being there – it excites me. For Michael, he’s the opposite, he loves nature and a quiet peaceful life. He knew of my love of cities from when we first met, so it comes as no surprise to him when I need to get away, get dressed up, and wander the city sidewalks. Just as it comes to no surprise to me when Michael takes off on long walks through the woods or does other outdoor activities on his own. Sometimes we join each other and sometimes we don’t, but we never stop the other one from staying true to their self by doing something that brings them joy.
While relationships are meant to enhance and bring joy to each other’s lives, they do require some sacrifices and compromise – like where you vacation, or giving up eating nuts because your partner has an allergy - but they shouldn’t require you to sacrifice or compromise who you are as a person. You want to make sure the one you love, loves you just the way you are. It’s much easier to be true to yourself when the person you are with loves and accepts everything about you. Michael was the first person who “got me… all of me” and did not want to change me.
It struck me on our wedding day why Michael has always loved me for me. We have both been on a similar journey of self-discovery that lead us to each other. He would use different language to describe his journey but what we have learned about living a fulfilled life is similar. He is an incredibly humble but equally confident man and he wanted that same level of confidence in a partner. He loves my confidence and doesn’t find it threatening or try to diminish it, and considers me his equal. I believe the fact that we are starting on equal ground means that we will continue to grow, together and individually, at a similar rate, never really outpacing one another.
To my surprise, now that we are officially married our relationship feels even more strengthened. Our already strong partnership feels a little more secure and our deep love a little more special. I am so excited to continue this amazing journey. I believe that staying true to yourself helps you in gaining the knowledge and experience to be able to make the next right step… and for me a happy, healthy marriage is my next right step!