When I was single, I was constantly torn between being an ‘independent woman’ and the nagging desire to be in a committed relationship. The pull between “I’m just fine on my own, thank you very much” and watching what seemed like everyone else in my life find a love to last a lifetime by their early 20s was exhausting and frustrating.
As long as I can remember, I wanted to get married, have a family and stay home with my kids. Achieving that dream first required finding Mr. Right. I was set on Mr. Right more than I was set on a timeline. Some of my friends encouraged me to drop my standards and persisted that no one was going to be perfect. I knew that. I just wanted someone who was perfect for me and I wasn’t going to settle.
My wise, divorced older sister told me once that it’s harder to be lonely and married than it is to be lonely and single. That encouraged me to be sure I didn’t settle, but being single was still hard. I wanted desperately to be completely fine on my own, but something deep inside me ached for my situation to change. The fact that there was nothing I could do about it was even harder to deal with.
So, I waited for Mr. Right. But that doesn’t mean I kept my life on hold. I kept an active social life, volunteered and developed my interests. I put the best of myself into everything I did and prayed that I would meet whoever I was going to marry soon. There were a few times I thought I had found him. When I realized I was wrong, I reminded myself I really was okay on my own and Mr. Right was worth waiting for. It was a long journey, but I’m really thankful I was patient.
When I finally met my future husband, I had to reconcile all those years of being okay on my own with heading toward marriage. I had wanted this interdependent relationship my entire life, but now I had to be sure I wasn’t pushing him away just because I could be fine on my own.
We had to learn how to be married and consider each other in every moment, in every decision. I was used to being right, so modifying ‘my way’ seemed strange and foreign. Change is never easy, but it’s certainly not bad. I valued that my husband brought a different perspective on life that influenced how I interacted with the world.
Our relationship helped me realize that just because my way was the way I was taught to do it and was used to doing it, it wasn’t the only (or even always the best) way to do it. We were now team. We both adjusted our priorities to make the best decisions for our marriage and are better for it.
My journey was one of semi-comfortable independence to extremely comfortable interdependence. It wasn’t easy, any of it, but it’s made me a better person and led to a fulfilled personal life.