“Letters to My Younger Self” is a series focused on wisdom and self-awareness. Just as you write letters to a friend to encourage and uplift them, here is the advice we would go back and tell our younger selves.
Remember when you left Jay’s house and half-joked to your best friend in the car, “I’m going to marry that guy?” Well, you won’t believe it, but it’s true. You actually do marry that guy!
In just a few short years, he’ll propose in a way that involves grizzly bears, hippies and an unexpected nose bleed. The wedding is beautiful and a little crazy, but it’s only the beginning of your adventures. What’s even harder to believe is you guys go on to have four kids and run a business together. You’ll celebrate 24 years together with a glass of wine in your living room in a quarantine, but that’s a story for another time.
People will tell you all the time how lucky you are to have each other, and they’re right. You truly are lucky. Jay is a great partner and an amazing dad, but what I want you to know today is that, even though you have received a great gift in your marriage, it isn’t quite the fairy tale ending you’re looking for in life.
Even though you have received a great gift in your marriage, it isn’t quite the fairy tale ending you’re looking for in life.
Even at your tender ages, you’re both bringing your losses and empty spaces to the relationship. You’ve already walked a long journey, and you’re a bit weary. I know you’re looking for hope and a place to rest.
You’ve always been a romantic at heart and a true believer in the power of love. While I want to reassure you that Jay will be a wonderful partner and will help you carry the load when times get tough, marriage isn’t a one-time answer to your struggles. Love is still magical, but just not the way you think.
Your marriage won’t heal every wound. I hate to say it, but it will actually give you a few new ones in the early years. Jay’s love for you is true and deep, but it can’t heal every loss or solve every problem. He won’t make you happy all the time. (He’ll make you even crazier than you thought possible some days!) Life will throw you for so many loops that some days you’ll wonder if love is enough.
What I would love to share with you is that your marriage will become so much more fulfilling and the love will feel so much truer when you stop looking to him to meet every need, fill every lonely minute or fix every problem. When you stop trying to make love a destination, you will instead learn to enjoy the journey.
When you stop trying to make love a destination, you will instead learn to enjoy the journey.
It takes you both awhile, but there is a day that you both realize that the job of loving yourselves belongs to each of you. When you put the work into loving yourself, you don’t demand it of him. In that work, you’ll actually become so much more capable of receiving the love he has to give. Then, the love becomes so completely abundant that it overflows out into the world.
You’ll both also find that the job of loving the other person also belongs to you and isn’t dependent on whether or not they’ve “earned” your love that particular day. The day you stop asking him to act a specific way and just focus on loving him (in all his Jay-ness) is the day you truly see what a gift you’ve been given in sharing your life with this wonderful human being.
When you give him the freedom to be himself, you’ll be amazed by how awesome he is. Not perfect, just awesome. Love like this isn’t final. It’s a constant state of growth and change that gives you both the freedom to grow together.
Love like this isn’t final. It’s a constant state of growth and change that gives you both the freedom to grow together.
Life will have struggles, but it is also an unbelievable gift. The ability to share that journey with someone else is such undeserved grace. So dear, I hope you will take this time to love yourself and enjoy getting to know that future husband of yours. If you think it feels a bit like a fairy tale now, just you wait. You’re only getting started.
What advice would you give to your younger self about love and relationships? What were some ideas that younger you held about romance that no longer hold true today?
Image via Raisa Zwart Photography