I believe in the importance of learning from what previous generations find to be true. Five months after I married my first husband, his mother shot and killed his father because he’d been abusive.
My own abusive marriage ended in divorce. As much as this irritated the evangelicals I knew, I comforted myself by acknowledging that it was a step up in the people skills department.
For years I went about being a single parent and making a living. I’d decided I would never again get married because my judgment clearly couldn’t be trusted. My parents – who, to my knowledge, haven’t ever fired a weapon at each other – reminded me after a polite waiting period that I’d once asked why they couldn’t get along as well as my in-laws.
So, there was no doubt a single life would be the wisest route for my future.
Then one day I met a man who had grown up in South America, lived in Indonesia, spoke four languages and was as interesting as all get out. Starting in fall 1998, he drove from Texas to Nebraska every month for two years to see me. AT&T survived the cell-phone boom because of what we spent on between-visit phone calls. His friends and his children judged him kind, wise, and fun. I agreed.
“I can’t ever marry you,” I told him, “because I like having my own checking account.”
Not a problem, he said. Astounded, I went on, describing my vision of an ideal marriage – one in which two best friends enhance each other’s happiness instead of one person demanding the other manufacture it. Where each gives the other the energy to become more, instead of preventing growth through psychological harm. Where there’s room for two individuals, and the opinions, dreams, and goals of one don’t cease to exist.
Also not a problem. We married in 2000.
Ron’s belief in me helps me believe in myself. His love gives me a springboard for exploring my capabilities. Last year we walked a thousand miles – 25 miles a day for 40 days.
Next to deciding to trust again, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
It was a revelation to me that a successful relationship could be created by telling someone what matters to you, how you expect to be treated, and paying careful attention to their response before deciding on marriage.
I’m making sure my daughter knows, because I believe it’s important to pass on what we’ve found to be true.
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