Perception is funny. Some people would think twice about running barefoot in the Amazon rainforest or depleting their bank account almost into the negatives to fund their own TV pilot. However, to me, the idea of permanence was much scarier.
The bravest thing I’ve ever done was get married.
I met Dave while working in Ghana. Two months, one movie shoot, and an IV drip later (who knew that food poisoning and heat exhaustion could expedite adoration) we were pretty serious pretty soon. Coincidentally, we both lived in Brooklyn so we just kept the party going after we wrapped. I wasn’t a stranger to committed relationships having had a few. However, none of those relationships ever felt lifelong. I blinked and suddenly I was in my mid-thirties and still single.
To a degree, I was (secretly) okay with that.
I enjoyed focusing on my career. I liked being able to move about the cabin without feeling belted down to someone. On one side of the coin, I eventually wanted to get married; to have a family. On the other side, I grew accustomed to the single, city lifestyle and I didn’t entirely hate it. In some ways, what I desired and had striven for in (most of) my years of dating — that feeling of security and lifelong commitment — terrified me. Being married meant having to truly be vulnerable with someone. Being married meant having to be accountable to someone – FOR LIFE! Last I checked, that’s a long ass time. These were all things I hadn’t been able to achieve in past romantic relationships. In all honestly, I wasn’t really sure if I was even completely capable of these things having focused on just me for so long into my adulthood. Besides, I liked me. I could’t have someone trying to change me.
Leave it to science to intervene. Apparently my biological clock has multiple settings. After a year, my “what now” alarm went off. In people, there are positives and negatives. In Dave, I finally met a man who could diffuse the chaos of my sometimes wild-natured emotions. In that, he’s created a safe space for me to speak openly about my feelings — to be vulnerable.
Additionally, our relationship has taught me that accountability is a skill that two people can work on and develop together. Cultivating emotional responsibility through negotiating fears with him has granted me a freedom I didn’t know even existed. Beautifully, I think I give him that same freedom.
The right person doesn’t change you but challenges you. The right person can debunk the myth that marriage stunts your personal growth. The right person can stimulate it; demystify internal puzzles others misinterpreted to be broken, irreparable pieces of you. I’m learning how to solve things with my husband. Not entirely an easy task and sometimes we don’t always agree. But I realize that mature love doesn’t necessarily mean never having doubt. Rather, it’s about being able to express doubt with your partner and erasing it together with affirmations specific to your needs. Maybe marriage is really just the lifelong process of creating confidence. I’m not entirely sure yet but we’ll figure it out.
One thing’s for certain: some lessons in bravery you learn best in tandem.