Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Self-love is often cast away, placed in the backs of our minds as a selfish indulgence. We enter relationships, both romantic and platonic, under the belief that our spouses or friends can and will fill what we lack. Relationships we form as adults can quickly become a battle of whom can suffer more.
Self-love is not just about massages, facials, new toys. Self-love is healing our traumas, building our self-esteem, and gaining confidence about who we are and what we believe. We are all conditioned to think that with time our pain and traumas will dissipate with age, and if these traumas do not appear at some point to subside, we should merely let them go. Much like a record player, we relive our past, allowing it too manifest and rise to the top in relationships that pull at our emotional walls. Marriage is often where two people who have stuffed down their traumas collide. These couples are faced with three options: they either adapt and build resentment, leave, or do the work and grow to profound levels of love.
Marriage is not two halves completing each other. It is two complete people adding to each other's lives so much that spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially, they grow and flourish individually and as a couple. The thing is, rarely are we as healed and complete as we think we are before saying, "I do." Once the excitement and honeymoon phase wears off; that is when the elders say, "It gets real." For lack of better words, all your "stuff" starts to surface and, if not dealt with, infest and dismantles your relationship. Only learning to fully love yourself and deal with all your baggage can you begin the foundation of a healthy marriage.
One piece of advice that I received on my wedding day was, "You are no longer two; you are one." I lived by that and died on a prideful sword when that logic fell apart. My husband and I have braved many storms, we have tackled problems set before us with precision and dedication. We did not heal individually before our marriage, and so for everything we built, there came a time when it exploded. For many unions, therapy is seen as a failure, but as MFT. Daniel Beaver states, "How can you fail at something you never learned how to properly do?"Therapy gave us the tools and space to heal and become vulnerable with each other. We gave ourselves permission to take off our survival layers and really see each other.
In learning to love ourselves, vulnerability became our foundation, and that is the greatest gift to ourselves and our marriage.