"No one achieves anything alone." -Leslie Knope, "Parks and Recreation" s04 e22
This quote is from the TV series Parks and Recreation - one of our favorites. Despite the silliness and quirky characters, the show is chock-full of heart-warming situations as this group of work friends do life together.
When we care for people, we abandon ego to help them. We desire to see them succeed, to come to their fullest potential. We don't want them to stay the same because we believe in their ability to become exactly who they were created to be.
This is a delicate lesson that my husband has helped me learn.
He loves me. No question. He loves me just as I am - flaws and failures, strengths and successes. But he also has this undercurrent of encouragement for me to be better and do better. He is under no misconception that I am perfect and so we agree that improvement is always on the table for me...AND for him.
It's tricky sometimes. Honestly, it hurts my feelings sometimes. You see, the relationships we watch on TV and in the movies replay a dialogue that if someone loves you, they love you as you are and don't ever want you to change. This sounds romantic and soothes the longing in our souls to be fully known and fully loved, but the problem is that this line of thinking is a catch-22.
Here's what I mean...we are all changing all the time. Our encounters and circumstances mold us moment-by-moment so that I am no longer the person I was even 30 seconds ago as I type these words. Sure, I likely have the same basic beliefs and tendencies, but event these morph and evolve as the days and years go by.
So if my husband doesn't want me to ever change, then he's in for a lot of disappointment! I will never again be the 20-year-old college co-ed he met way back when (thank the good Lord...) and he'll never again be the older man at the ripe old age of 24...
But how often have you heard the reason for people breaking up or getting a divorce is because, "She changed"? Or "He's just not the man I fell in love with"? And these are both very truthful, accurate assessments. No one - anywhere - is the same as they were yesterday. What does that mean? What does it matter?
There may be a bit of falling when it comes to love, but at some point in a marriage, it needs to also be a commitment to that person, no matter what happens.
Here's another line from that same episode of Parks and Rec that seems fitting here:
"We didn't volunteer to help you because we wanted to wrap ourselves in personal glory. We did it because we care about you. You had a dream, and we wanted to support your dream. That's what you do when you care about someone. You support them, win, lose, or draw." -Ron Swanson, "Parks and Recreation" s04 e22
There is so much self-sacrifice in those words. Here's another way to read it:
"I didn't marry you because I wanted to wrap myself in personal glory or because I thought every day was going to be a breeze. I did it because I care about you and I want to support you in your dreams. When you love and care about someone, you support them, win, lose, or draw."
Can't you hear someone reading that to his beloved at a vow-renewal ceremony after 10, 20, 30 or any number of years of marriage?
We can call it love and care for another, but at the end of the day, I think selfishness is the much harder thing to contend with. Laying down my own rights or wants or even needs in order to give someone else what they need is no small task. And it is definitely a two-way street. That's not to say that I can be selfish if you're being selfish, but rather that if we want a marriage to work - or any relationship for that matter, we both need to commit to striving to live less self-centered lives.
This is what our Pro Tips for a Magical Marriage Course is centered around - the practical steps to take to choreograph the beautiful dance of marriage that includes give and take, lead and follow, lift up and support. We can't wait to share it with you! Our plan is to launch it this summer...sign up below to get notified when it's available.