Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by Teyana Taylor
I’ve lost count on how many opinions, stories, experiences or beliefs I’ve heard on marriage and being married. They’re all different, they all feel like the person or people I’m speaking to in that moment, but they all have one thing in common. No matter who’s telling the story, the common thread is always:
‘It takes work.’
The gold nugget and the one thing everyone wants to make sure I get from the conversation is: be prepared to work. Be prepared to put in the effort and be prepared to keep choosing to do so. Of course, there’s some sprinkles of other advice and ingredients in there, but the bottom line, for any couple or individual I’ve spoken to, whether it be in Europe, America, Asia or Africa is always: ‘Keep choosing to do the work.’
Courage, patience and compassion come up, kindness shows up too, communication is a big one. Connection is always a heartfelt mention and vulnerability is like a holy grail.
Granted it’s not mentioned by everyone, it’s like this deeper secret or treasure that not all of us are comfortable disclosing or getting into, but in so many stories even if unspoken, vulnerability is always present and it’s usually evident in the moments of highest connection, highest growth and most happiness (even if not immediately).
I’m not sure that the goal of this article is to give you advice on your marriage, you’ll find out what you get from it. I hope that is more of an empowering reminder to fully embrace the journey, and that includes the things that came easy and the things that don’t, the situations you barely have to think about and the ones you can’t quite crack.
A reminder, that like most things in this life, it’s not black and white, it’s not an immutable thing, it’s ambiguous and many things all at once. It’s two people growing into different versions of who they’ll be in this lifetime, over and over and over again. It’s two people figuring out how to fulfil each other’s needs whilst still honouring their own.
There’s no pandora box anywhere in the world that will hold the secret to the complexities of that experience, nowhere other than inside the two people involved. So, I hope that the main takeaway you get from this, is that you are the secret, you and the work you’ll keep choosing to put in are the recipe.
The work that never stops, goes for the delicate and never-ending balance of considering all needs involved throughout that process. It’s so easy to feel frustrated when our needs are not met, but extending grace beyond what we need whilst understanding that the other person may not be able to fulfil that in that particular moment, is key and much kinder to your feelings and progressive for your relationship. Dismantling this idea that marriage is a 50/50 effort is so necessary to creating and holding space for what in fact, in that particular moment, your partner can give, and not what some expectation or preconceived notion dictated. Yes, some days it might be 50% and some days it might be 20%, and that is true for both involved and both are more than fine.
The work that never stops is much more about growing and building a life and relationship that surpasses even your wildest dreams than trying to replicate whatever ideal you had. It’s about creating and holding space for you and your person to be able to reach your absolute potential while supporting each other along the way.
So go all in, embrace it all, be thankful that you GET to do the work, and when you’re in the thick of it, remember that just like the ‘good’ parts these are also what makes it sacred.