After breaking off my engagement I moved to the middle of the jungle in Costa Rica where I was surely safe from male suitors (hehehe yes that is what I told myself!). There I began to do yoga on a daily basis and found out that I actually do have a heart – news to me! At that moment I met my now husband. Neither of us was looking for or ready for a relationship and thus our one-year long friendship started us on a journey we could have never in our wildest dreams have imagined.
Our relationship took me through doors, windows, and portals that transformed me little by little. I fought it tooth and nail, convincing myself several times that we needed to break up. I even sought energy workers to aid me in opening my heart to him and generally. At each crossroads he was there simple accepting me exactly the way I was at that moment and actually encouraging me to be more myself every time I wavered in my strength and independence! A moment came when I finally understood on a deep level that my fears and doubts about if he was the one originated from the fact that his love was completely unconditional. What do I do with this??? I asked. The concept of unconditional love was only familiar to me on a theoretical or philosophical level … not in the flesh.
So finally, I moved away and we began a long-distance relationship. Many people would see this as the end but for me it was the beginning… the establishment of a relationship with my true self and finding unconditional love for it. I never before understood why people say repeatedly that you have to love and accept yourself unconditionally before you can love and accept another unconditionally. My own experience has shown me that it indeed is true. The more I grew to know and accept myself through yoga, meditation, a gratitude practice and simply observing who I am without judgment, the more I could do the same with him and with others.
Even after all this – literally 4.5 years of knowing and loving my partner, when he asked me to marry him I felt like not just a wall but an entire city block of concrete was slapped right in my face. I accepted his proposal, but the 4 months leading up to the ceremony were an incredible roller coaster ride. I felt exhilarated one moment when we were dancing and doubtful, petrified and almost nauseas in others when my parents asked if they could begin telling others about our planned nuptials. I pictured myself as the newer and younger Julia Roberts running away from my second engagement and wondering if I have a thing for cross-cultural complicated relationships. The thing is my partner didn’t bat an eyelash!! He told me it was ok to change my mind if I wanted to and even to change the date to next year if I wanted to. What … how can he be so non-chalant about this?? Does he even care about getting married??
So as always in the exact moment that I needed it, the perfect book fell into my hands. It is the sequel to Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, appropriately called Committed. It is about her experience with marrying a second time accompanied by her research and exploration of the history and cultural significance of marriage. As I read this book and chatted with my partner, I realized that my biggest fear was losing my independence since I have a history of co-dependency. Ironically my partner had the exact same fear. Through threshing out where this came from we realized that a lot of our fears came not from our experience as a couple but from society and the pressure one feels externally. There is this idea that when a couple marries they have to get a house together, go everywhere together and share responsibilities (and everyone here in Costa Rica that I have told that I just got married has asked oh and is he going to move here or are you going to move to where he is – as if staying long-distance is absolutely unheard of). When we discussed what works for US and not for everyone else we realized that we shape our relationship and we can mold it in any way that suits us at the moment rather than allowing the norm to dictate what is best for us as a couple and as individuals.
In the weeks leading up to the wedding serendipitously I began a new job that required me to receive many alternative therapies that threshed out my ‘demons’. In one the woman I was working with asked me why I decided to marry my partner. I began to cry and said because he is my best friend and he has shown me true love that I never dreamed of. Then she asked me an interesting questionthat I thought I knew the answer to – could you go on simply being a couple without getting married. In my meditative state a deep truth emerged… we could but we would not follow the path set out before us to EVOLVE TOGETHER that would allow me to test him in ways that he needs to grow and for him to challenge my beliefs and perspectives in a way I know only he can.
In the days leading up to the wedding I got stressed and nervous again. But suddenly I understood profoundly that I wanted to surrender into this path, I wanted to experience marriage with this man no matter what the end result was. The day before and the day of my weddingI was perhaps the most relaxed and happiest bride ever. Looking at our pictures I don’t even recognize myself – I look radiant, at peace and full of bliss. Now I feel like we have always been married and all the hype leading up to it was completely in my head.
I am still not sure why my truth directed me to marry legally rather than continuing as partners and simply creating our own life together without the government getting involved. I do know that there is something empowering about saying my husband rather than my boyfriend that I never expected to feel and that cross-cultural relationships popping up these days seem to be a new and very real impetus to take the plunge and prove your commitment in a world of wishy washy, passion immersed relationships.