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You must love in a way that makes the other person feel free. Thich Nhat Hanh

Marriage gives us the freedom to explore a deeper commitment than any other relationship. We get to know our partner warts and all. They know our weaknesses and we know theirs. In a good relationship our strengths and weaknesses build something better than either of us could apart. We are stronger together.

When he wins, she wins. Children don’t see a perfect marriage they see two people working things out. They see the peaks and valleys that come in life. Their mother is there for their dad in his grief and he is there for her in hers.

Two people navigate careers, each others families, holidays. This is going to be a challenge for my daughter and her husband this year. Christmas a time of togetherness can pull people in two directions, trying to satisfy everybody they satisfy no one. Not even themselves.

It’s too early to talk of Christmas. First they need to get the thank you cards out. My husband and I had free tickets to a youth choir Christmas Concerto. We couldn’t bring ourselves to go to a Christmas event this early. We went to a movie instead.

Personal freedom is something we foster; it is not something handed to us. It is our emotional work that heals the binds that tie us; we also have to let our partner heal the binds that tie them. This only happens from a place of emotional maturity that owns and accepts, but does not blame.

A strong relationship requires choosing to love each other even in those moments when you struggle to like each other. Unknown

We create confining feelings within relationships to give us a feeling of control. Being “right” often makes us overly controlling. We begin to create prickly borders around our hearts. We put this controlling mechanism in place to protect ourselves from being hurt. That barbed wire fence around our heart hurts ourselves as it hurts others. It’s as hard for us to get out as it is for someone else to get in.

We yearn for connection and freedom. Commitment is that freedom, if we do it right. Through connection to someone we can explore honest, genuine and authentic love.

When we are in denial of our deepest pain we lash out, build walls and blame the world. Our lives and relationships suffer. We need to shift our energy, unlock our heart, give our self the gift of compassion, grace and forgiveness and heal the wounded parts of our self.

We need to deal with our feelings of insecurity,  being unlovable, pain, and shame.  Life has let us down. We have let ourselves down. The people we love have been let down. We are human. We are not perfect.  Still, we are worthy of love from our self and others. Often before we can accept forgiveness from someone else we need to accept it from our self.

We are enough. We are not perfect; we don’t need to be perfect. We need to be accepting, warm, compassionate and vulnerable. We may get hurt if we love. We hurt our self when we don’t open up to the love being offered. If we rebuff the other person often enough they no longer offer.

They start to pull into themselves, protecting their heart. Soon you have two lonely, isolated, hardened, unfeeling people sharing a space. Some couples live their lives together two broken souls, hardened, bitter, unloving. Other couples are still two broken souls but they help each other mend the broken pieces, they are open, loving, vulnerable. They become strong in the broken places. They don’t expect each other to be perfect. They love what is. They find it’s enough.

Love is a decision.  We need to honor our commitment. When someone does something wrong we need to be careful we don’t forget about everything they’ve done right.

A true relationship is two imperfect people refusing to give up on each other. Unknown

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The Marriage Mantra: 10 Guiding Principles to Build a Beautiful Marriage Paperback – July 14, 2016