My husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary a few weeks back. When we were figuring out what to do to celebrate, we both agreed not killing each other was probably enough for this year. A good sign, we could agree on something. Come on, be honest. There are seasons in every relationship where you are living in simple happiness and other times when the thought of waking up next to this person everyday for the rest of your life feels like a prison sentence! I married my best friend. A man who I would rather spend time with than any other person on the planet. Someone whose generosity is immeasurable, who lives unselfishly and represents to our daughter how a man should treat a woman. All of this aside, being married involves struggle. At one time, I vowed I would never give marital advice because I shy away from leading people in areas I don’t have a grasp on. Relationships are tough and I’m not quite sure I will ever fully master them. But such is life and this was a big awakening for me. Of course marriage is tough. It is just one of the many facets of life and life involves struggle. I discuss tough subject all the time so why not relationships? Maybe after 21 years of sustaining love in a marriage I do know a little something about relationships. Once again, it only took me about 40 years to have this “ah ha” moment. The key is learning to embrace the struggle.
In all the spoils of our modern day, technology driven society, it is easy to lose sight of the work that life requires. There are an unlimited amount of conveniences. We can order our groceries online, we can have any book, song or article on our mobile device within seconds, we can travel across the world in a day if we have the means; we don’t have to wait for much of anything really. Except the things that truly matter. Love, health, knowledge to name a few. Yet somehow we have forgotten this.
We are living in times when everyone wants to make the simple much too complicated and that which requires work much too easy.
Our tendency to avoid struggle has led us to become the most obese, addicted, in debt and overly medicated adult population in U.S. history. We are numbing the struggle and thus numbing the joy. You cannot selectively choose which human emotions you are willing to experience. Shame, grief, vulnerability, fear, disappointment are labeled as “bad” and we are choosing not to feel them. But guess what? The feelings of pure joy, gratitude, self love, confidence and ultimately happiness and fulfillment are not possible if we do not allow ourselves to experience every human emotion. So when it comes to marriage, it is easier to just walk away than embrace the work that love requires. When it comes to creating physical health, it is easier to sit around snacking on chips and watching a television series than it is to go to the gym and get uncomfortable. It seems so much easier to buy a supplement or buy into a 30 day weight loss plan than it is to actually cook our own food. In trying to solve political issues, it is easier to hide behind a computer screen and point fingers than it is to have conversation and constructive dissent.
Everything we need to thrive as human beings requires struggle.
We are wired to survive a life full of uncertainty and discomfort. Instead of accepting this human condition, we are attempting to perfect our lives. This quest for perfect will lead to a life of discontent. Your marriage will never be perfect. No matter how much botox you inject, you are still going to age. You can love and protect your children endlessly and they will still experience pain and suffering. Our most basic human condition requires it. The day I held my dying child in my arms and watched her take her last breath was undoubtedly the severest emotional pain I have ever suffered. But the day I travelled across the globe to hold my daughter in my arms for the first time was the purest happiness I have ever experienced. Without one, I couldn’t have had the other. I physically challenge my body because the self confidence I gain only comes through this discomfort. Engaging in uncomfortable conversations allows me to gain knowledge and appreciation for other perspectives. Over the course of my life, I have learned if I chose to limit the struggle, I choose to limit my happiness and I want it all! There is so much happiness awaiting you in this life. Stop trying to make things easy and looking for the path of least resistance. Allow yourself to experience every human emotion. Your happiness depends upon it.
As human beings we were born with the ability to embrace struggle.