Read Before Marriage
MaRiza Noyama-Zee sends the letter everyone should read before saying "I do."
Today is a special day! This being the day before you step over the threshold into a new adventure called marriage. Weddings are one of the most globally consistent rituals, spanning many different traditions and cultures. But what exactly is it?
Weddings, as an entry point into marriage, offer a socially acceptable, and often required, magical ritual to bring two or more people together in a gesture of commitment towards becoming a new family.
In our modern culture we often think of this ritual as being inspired by Love, but without conscious awareness or agreement about what Love even is, the challenges that marriage can bring are sometimes surprising, ungrounding and intolerable.
If we had a new definition for Love that was inclusive of the challenges as part of the commitment, not just as something to endure, but as something to train for, we might be able to enter marriage mutually powerful and ready. As a member of your family community that has come here to witness the magic, I would like to offer you some sound advice.
What is Love? How does it differ from Marriage?
Love, in its highest state, is mutual. For author bell hooks, the best definition to describe Love comes from M. Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled. It goes like this: Love is “the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth."
I would translate this as: Love is the mutual commitment to our own and another’s personal growth towards wholeness, healing, and truth.
This flies in the face of what we see in our social stories about Love. We might be taught that Love is a sacrifice of one’s self for another. We may think that having boundaries or needs is unloving. We may also think that when we say, “I love you,” what we are actually saying is that we believe that the level of intimacy and attachment we currently share will never change.
In truth, what a relationship needs most is the willingness to show up for the ways each individual person and the connection between them will change, because change – and growth – are the only constants in life.
Every time we deepen our commitment to another person, we come closer to touching and seeing their wounds. We all have wounds. This is not an expression of personal failing or frailty. Intimate relationships can help us heal these wounds so that in the light of Love, acceptance, and vulnerability, we can move ever closer to our own wholeness and sense of freedom and grace. When we can feel this for ourselves, we can extend it towards others.
What is difficult here is that while our intimate partners are the people who may get the closest to seeing our deep woundedness, they are not the ones to ultimately heal them. Only we can heal our own wounds by rerouting our foundational understandings and defenses that those wounds produced.
Some of these wounds are a response to a level of absence, rather than any overt trauma. These types of wounds can be difficult to see. But all of us long for a level of love that our parents, friends, lovers, and the world cannot provide. For those of us who cultivate a sense of ourselves beyond the human experience, we may feel a remembrance of a Love that is greater than what we often encounter in our personal relationships. We all know, feel, and remember a kind of Love that is beyond what we find here on Earth. And that memory hurts. These tender wounds left by Love’s absence create our deepest yearnings for Love as adults. Yet no matter how much we ask our lover for what we needed in the past and did not receive, it will not satiate our Love Bucket until the vessel itself is understood and healed.
This is an exploration each person must commit to and share in order to move forward together in a harmonic way. The Love Bucket can only be filled when we have attended to these core wounds and fundamentally believe we are worthy of that kind of Love. When this occurs, much more than simply our partner will fill our buckets. Our friendships, our inner connections, the work that we contribute to our community, and little moments of joy will all contribute to filling our buckets. This relieves the tension and pressure that our concept of intimate partnership often places on us and we then get to move forward in our partnership from a place of fullness.
It can be deeply painful to recognize that we cannot save the other person and we can not in turn be saved by them either. This essential work of healing our human hearts is a journey we must each take for ourselves.
So Love is essentially a commitment to being the compassionate witness to this stunning and unpredictable evolution in yourself and others. It is the commitment to continue to turn toward each other, affirming that you and the other person are good people, even if you are suffering or otherwise having a hard time. To know that your shadow material, as it rises, is your own and to not accidentally project it onto the other. This kind of brave Love is to be committed to your own and the other person’s happiness.
As you move into marriage, which is a deep commitment and a beautiful gesture of longevity, it is important to stay true to the willingness to regard your lover with fresh eyes and an open heart so that you can continue to see them clearly and reflect the beauty you see back to them.
MaRiza Noyama-Zee is a Holistic Relationship Coach and Founder of Full Awakening LLC. Find out more about her work at www.fullawakening.net
Rings on stump: Wix Media
Oui dress: Jean Shields Fleming
Rings in wreath: Jacob Rank