How to Love the Messiness of Your Marriage Forget the idea of a perfect marriage with a perfectly complimenting partner, instead embrace your messy relationship. BY KELLY MCNELIS
Your relationship might not look perfect and that's okay.
“ When you center your entire existence around the person you love, you miss out on so much.”
Say it with me: Just as there’s no such thing as perfection, there is no perfect relationship. And whether you’ve been married for a long time or not, companionship is usually only as good as our own relationship with our number one: our very own self.
So if relationships aren’t supposed to make us whole, what are they for in the first place? This Valentine’s Day, consider the value of messiness in your relationships (romantic and otherwise). Messiness is what makes for more fun, deeper connection and intimacy, greater trust, expanded compassion, more room for acceptance and self-expression, and some of the best damn lessons you’ll ever learn. Here are my tips for how you can incorporate messiness into your own relationship—and learn to celebrate the imperfections.
* Look at what you value. Get clarity on your priorities and what you want in your marriage and out of your spouse. This isn’t about making a laundry list of the qualities, it’s more important to focus on your own belief systems and whether or not your relationship responsibilities are aligned with what you actually care about. Are you paying attention to your deeper values and needs? There was a point in my life when I recognized that solidity, reliability, and kindness were way more important to me than being with someone who looked "good," was spiritually conscious, and met everyone else’s expectations—but it took me a while to get there.
* Don’t make your spouse your everything, and vice versa. The mistake that a lot of people make, and one that is built into our society, is acting like a romantic partner is the solution to your problems: the person who is supposed to automatically make you happy and sprinkle magical fairy dust all over your life. This is an inevitable setup for disappointment. In truth, you don’t need to share all the same interests, enjoy doing everything together, or even be best friends in order to have a fulfilling marriage. Enjoying and learning from your differences is powerful, as the best relationships are meant to complement you rather than to be extensions of you. When you center your entire existence around the person you love, you miss out on so much: the beauty of your friendships (which I consider soul connections that are just as important to me as my marriage), the activities you love to do regardless of whether or not your husband or wife joins you, and your own sense of self and independence.
* Complete yourself. Focus on cultivating your own sense of self instead of criticizing your spouse for what they are missing. We often tend to fixate on our partner’s shortcomings when there is a part of us we haven’t yet developed. Get real with your number one if there’s something you might need to work on to make yourself happy. And instead of fixing your husband or wife, work on bringing your own messy brilliance to the table; because wholeness isn’t about perfection—it’s about full self-expression.
* Get messy with each other. The true joy of marriage is that it helps you access the deepest, rawest, realest parts of yourself. The most fulfilling relationships aren’t the ones that look good or always seem happy; they’re the ones where you tap into your vulnerability and courage, and engage in deep truth-telling. I know I don’t normally feel safe with men, but for me, true intimacy is sharing the messiest parts of myself with my husband and trusting him to hold space for me to the best of his capacity, with no judgment. True intimacy requires that level of safety, which can sometimes be scary to ask for or venture into. To some people, it can sometimes look like "drama" or even "fighting," but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Putting everything on the table with the utmost respect for yourself and your spouse is what helps build greater trust and love while strengthening your bond.
When we, as women, can finally accept the messiness of our marriages and get clear about the fact that our partners are not here to complete us, we actually give ourselves a fair shot at the happiness we desire. That’s because relaxing our attitudes around love and relationships naturally brings us back to what we are truly capable of, which is beyond our wildest expectations. It helps us see that wholeness is achievable not through perfection, but through changing our priorities so that we can embrace our messiness (and that of our partner), connect to what we most value, and welcome true intimacy.
I’m am the founder of Women For One and author of "Your Messy Brilliance". I’m not perfect, but I’m real. I am a mom, a wife, a friend, a mentor, and a businesswoman. I’m an incest survivor. I’m a Reiki master, minister, and a healer. Sometimes, I drink too much. I yell at my kids (I really try to minimize this one!). These experiences are all a part of me—the good, the bad, and the fugly.