These past few months have been full of joy for me. I met a man several months ago who I fell in love with. But, deeper than that, I chose him. And he chose me. We decided to marry. And then we did. It didn't seem like a hard decision to make, but that isn't to say I took it lightly. In fact, I take the decision very seriously. I have no desire to live through the pain of a second divorce. My husband is in all ways the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. I often think about how strange life is...to meet such an incredible man now. In my late 30's.
However amazing my marriage has been thus far, my life has been marked by sadness over other situations. My law partner and friend's husband was diagnosed with two forms of cancer in August. Her life has changed in ways she could have never imagined. Her pain and sadness is palpable. She is far braver and more loyal than I ever could have given her credit for. My husband is searching for a job. One that will make him feel good about working and a job that he can feel is contributing to our world to make it better. My best friend and I are at odds. Again. This time I see that perhaps there is no way forward together. And of course that brings with it a sense of sadness and regret. My former husband is behaving in ways that cause my children pain and fill me with rage.
I have had to consider, and draw conclusions about what I will seek as primary in my life. There are few open spots in life. From early on, we are forced to choose primary relationships. And I have over the years had to choose these things. My first husband never really occupied a primary place in my life. I had friends, church, kids and other things that filled those spots. The man I have chosen at 37 is occupying the central place that another human can occupy. And I made that choice. To let him in. To love him and make him a priority every day. That wasn't in the vows necessarily, but I have chosen it nonetheless. What perhaps is even better is that he has also made that choice.
What this choice means is that my ex-husband's antics no longer get a central spot in my life. My best friend's decisions and choices take on a secondary role. It doesn't mean that I don't care. It simply means that I won't allow myself to invest in these situations as I would have in the past. The losses aren't made easier necessarily. But they are losses I am choosing. My responses are less emotional and more matter of fact. There have been moments when I have been angered or saddened by what has happened, but ultimately I can let go in a way I would have struggled with a year ago.
What I have discovered in the past few months is that when we seek to be someone's primary relationship knowing that the other person isn't fully available to us...for whatever reason...we are not loving that person by seeking the relationship. My ex-husband was not capable of placing me in a primary role. For many reasons and perhaps the reasons don't matter. And when our relationship failed, it was at least partially because of the lack of primacy that either of us placed on it. However this is not to say that primary relationships can be sought out. In fact, I would say it's the opposite. If we are fortunate enough to pass into someone's life at the right moment, it is an amazing thing. But asking someone to choose us who is not free to make a good, sound choice is selfish. And the relationship will never have the quality it needs to last the storms. And trying to force ourselves into a primary place in someone else's life is manipulation in it's worst form. It seems life a loving thing, but in fact it is only to meet our own need to belong to someone.
The moment I knew things had deteriorated in my marriage was when I began to lie to those closest to me about what was happening. When I could no longer maintain friendships and familial relationships because I knew things were a mess and I feared everyone's judgment. While I care less about others' judgments now than I used to, I still recognize the gauge as a valuable one.
I believe in primary relationships and the importance of choosing with not just our desires but also with our minds and hearts. And I'm finally in a place where I'm choosing healthy ones rather than ones that can only end badly. Life is good. Even when my days aren't always so wonderful. And I'm excited that the man I have chosen to be primary in my life wants to hold that spot.