“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

To Be Fully Seen

This past weekend my husband was “supposed to” have shoulder surgery. But, a scheduling mishap delayed it. Instead, we were able to spend our anniversary in our happy place, Rodanthe, NC, and celebrate 35 years of life together.

The beginning.

35 years. That, my friends, is a long time.

The words of author Elizabeth Gilbert really summarize how I feel about this milestone in our marriage. She writes, “To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow, that is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”

Without a doubt, my husband and best friend, Rob, has always “fully seen and loved me anyhow.” From the get go. In truth, I think he saw “the real me,” i.e., my true self, my essence, way before I did. Underneath my well-coiffed pageant hair and high heels, he saw my soul and understood there was a really great girl hidden behind it all.

The beauty of a nervous system that helps us survive life threatening events is that it also supports us in deepening our feelings of closeness and connection with one another. Our relationships are far from boring when we feel safe. Emotional safety enables us the freedom to collaborate, dream, be wildly creative, share bold ideas, feel increased compassion, and express ourselves freely with one another. The more we understand how our bodies play a role in our relationships, the more we can make them work for us instead of against us.

Emotional Safety is Necessary for Emotional Connection

Every time I was in Rob’s presence, I felt safe. Something I’d never felt before. At the time, I didn’t understand it as “safety,” but I liked it and wanted to be around it more and more. Oh, I fought his presence and his love for quite some time, due to a host of dysfunctional, unhealthy behaviors that lurked deep inside my heart, mind, and soul.

But, because I felt so safe and secure, I started “taking off my well-crafted armor of defense and coping mechanisms,” and begin journeying towards being me.

To Be Living in the Present

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

Since the very beginning of our relationship Rob offered me safety and one other very important gift: the gift of living in the present. Somewhere along my personal journey to be Miss America or a star of some sort, life was always about “the next pageant,” or “the next performance,” or “the next ‘big thing,’ whatever a ‘big thing’ really is.”

But one weekend, way before we started dating, a group of us went to the OBX for the day. Midway through our beach day, Rob and I took his surfboard out and simply floated on it. Not sure why, maybe he was going to teach me to surf (smile), but instead we floated and talked for close to two hours. I don’t actually remember what we talked about, only that our conversation ebbed and flowed like the ocean we were floating in. It was easy, relaxed, and made me feel something else brand new: a sense of calm.

He’s led me and our family well. He’s taught me so much about trust + faithfulness.

To Be Wisely Led

I like to describe Rob as, “an iron fist in a velvet glove,” meaning, “a gentle demeanor concealing a resolute personality.” These two qualities, gentleness + resolve, attracted me to him and have captivated me for all these years. He works hard, plays hard, prays hard, believes hard and knows exactly how to strike the balance between all of these things.

I truly believe this one truth has been the cornerstone of our successful, 35 Years Strong, marriage.

You see, while floating on that surfboard, we talked long and hard about our dreams for the future.

A friend asked me this past week, “Is there a place that is your place, you know, the place where you and your husband are your very best?” Didn’t take me long to answer. “Yes,” I smiled. “Sitting on the beach of Rodanthe, at sunset, eating Lisa’s pizza and drinking a great bottle of red wine in our favorite beach cups.”

And, this past Friday evening, while enjoying dinner on the beach + basking in the OBX sunset we’ve come to know and love, we continued the conversation we started 35 years ago.

  • What do we see in our future?
  • How are we doing with the legacy we’re leaving behind?
  • Are there any changes we need to make in order to continue giving our children our best?
  • How can we best support each other’s vision in work and mission?

As the sun set, we took a long collective deep breath, soaking it all in.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

“Not really, but I know we must,” I replied.

“Wanna play some putt-putt?” he said. Once again, balancing “deep and emotional” with “fun and frolic.”

“Sure, but first let’s play some air hockey,” I smiled, proud that I, too, have learned how to balance the two as well.

To Be Fully Human and Fully Capable

God’s mobile–a human being–two human beings–a family of human beings. Mobiles that can reproduce. Constantly changing patterns, affected by each other, inspired by each other, helped by each other. A family which is real in space and time and history, with roots in the past and stretching out into the future. Is this something to be dropped, kicked, cut down, belittled, despised, lost to the twentieth century, unheard of by the twenty-first century?

Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family

In honor of my 35th wedding anniversary, I’m dedicating all of August to the topic of marriage and the intricacies of living so intimately with another human being. You see, at the end of the day, we are humans. That means we will fail, act irrationally at times, say things we shouldn’t, do things we really shouldn’t, and every single day, “be fully seen and known.”

And, that, my friends, requires grace, grace, and more grace.

Ready to be fully seen and known?

Ready to feel safe enough in your relationship(s) to be your truest self?

Ready to be fully human and yet, filled to overflow with God’s grace?

I’m in. Please join me. If you haven’t already, subscribe to:

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