Escape from Relationship Roulette

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“… I may find myself in fat clothes, no make-up, possibly a little stinky, lying in a half-vegetative state on the couch and Ryan will look at me, and I know he thinks I’m beautiful.”

By Daniela Schwartz | Twitter: @dannyschwartz

It’s my wedding day and I am a bundle of nerves. I’m about to commit myself to a man for the rest of my life and life literally flashes before my eyes.

– I am a 10-year-old girl and my parents just sat us down to tell us they are separating. Yes, they screamed at each other all the time, but I am completely shocked. I feel like my entire perception of my life up until that moment is shattered. It’s my first broken heart. The very first time love fails me.

I am fidgeting with my dress. They can’t find the CD with my music on it for after the ceremony … that would be because I left it at home. I start to run down worst case scenarios before my descent down the aisle. I could fall on my face, I could break into the ugly cry. I check my mirror for the 10th time to make sure my make-up is in place and my nose is boogie-free. I start breathing deeply, trying to calm my nerves. Still, the thoughts whirl through my head: What if my marriage ends like my mom and dad’s? What if I end up hurting our future kids? What if I fail?

– I am 12 years old and my mom is crying. She looks heartbroken. Another relationship done. I think to myself: I will never allow a man to control my life like this; to hurt me like my mom is hurting.

I am in my early 20s, at a party, dressed in long pants and a turtleneck sweater, but my boyfriend is still glaring at me. He is mad at the attention I have drawn from some of the men there. Despite my efforts to hide under layers of clothes, I have still peaked his jealousy. I know I will hear about it when we get home. I spend the next two years trying to calm his jealous rages.

In the end, he cheats. Perhaps I should have been the jealous one.

I begin to walk down the aisle. (They must have sorted out the music.) I don’t know if it’s the hundred layers of satin I am buried under or a weird reaction to the stress of the moment, but my right armpit turns on the faucet to a steady stream of sweat. I might be giving myself a panic attack.

I am going to commit my life to a man. Forever.

I am very grateful for my Dad’s arm. I feel a bit spinny.

_______________________________

Before I met my husband, I had prayed to God for the right kind of man. I clearly could not trust my own judgement. Despite my declarations of never allowing a man to control my life, I had left behind a string of dysfunctional relationships, the last being my crowning achievement. I’d lost myself in that relationship.

The only lasting good that came of those two long years, was that his mom had brought us to church one night and I met Jesus for the first time.

After that relationship, I was keenly aware of my bad judgment when it came to men. So I prayed for a man who helped me feel confident, a man who loved me unconditionally, a man who was a man–and if he were handsome, that would be super, God.

That’s when I met Ryan. On our first date we flirted and shared a pint of beer, conversation and a game of pool. I was pretty good at pool in those days and I think it impressed him. He was handsome, reminding me of a younger version of Harrison Ford. I did not feel insecure around him; instead, I felt at home. In the months to come, he fulfilled every prayer I had sent to heaven that one day.

I wish I could tell you we rode off into the sunset and got married, but that’s not the case. In fact, we broke up. I was a mess, not because of him, but my bad relationships and baggage from the past had caught up with me. I needed time.

It was almost two years before our lives connected again. We fell back in love and were engaged within the year. I shared everything dark in my past with Ryan; everything I thought made me unloveable and yet he still loved me. Over time I grew enough trust to commit my life to him. I loved him (and still do, by the way).

________________________

I am almost there. Ryan steps down from the altar area to meet me. He is doing the ugly cry. (Well, I guess it had to be one of us and somehow, his crying is unexpected and sweet.) All my bridesmaids break out into tears. As I say my vows, looking into the love of my life’s eyes, saying “I do,” I am keenly aware that sweat is running down my right arm and dripping from my elbow. Still, I am confident this is the man I am meant to marry.

We are pronounced husband and wife, we kiss and then I break out into the ugly cry.

______________________________

Being married to me has not been super easy for my husband. I can be independent to a fault and it has taken years for me to understand what a good marriage looks like. At times it is still a journey for me. It has taken time to heal and allow my heart to be vulnerable, but Ryan has cherished me ever since the day he promised to do so, ten years ago.

Some days, in the midst of parenthood and 3am wake-ups, when patience is short and I can be, well, a little ugly, he still loves me … Some days when there’s school, sports, appointments, teething, colds, barf, diapers, laundry, you know–the glamour moments–I may find myself in fat clothes, no make-up, possibly a little stinky, lying in a half-vegetative state on the couch and Ryan will look at me, and I know he thinks I’m beautiful.

God answered my prayers for a good man, but in beautiful divine style, God did even more. God has healed my hurting heart. And, through my loving husband, God is showing me what unconditional love looks like.

_______________________________

About Daniela:
Daniela is stepping into the role of stay-at-home mom. She loves Jesus, her husband and kids and jumps feet first into opportunities to serve in her community. Daniela lives by this statement, Preach the gospel always, use words when necessary. She loves to live life big and laughs a lot. She blogs at DanielaSchwartz.com

Image credit: Wedding (top), by bea29sm

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