Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5.25.2009 Going Strong

I had had three serious relationships before I met my husband.  Three intelligent, generous, kind, men who all loved me very well but all of whom I chose to leave.  Marriage was never a real consideration for me, but I only understood why when I met Michael.

You see, I'm a strong woman.  By strong, I mean much of the textbook definition:
  • (someone who) exerts great force; possesses skills and qualities that create a likelihood of success; powerfully affects the mind, senses, or emotions; shows determination, self-control, and good judgment; able to withstand great pressure; very intense; not soft or muted but clear & prominent; (and, though originally referring to food) distinctive and pungent
It takes a lot to love someone like me.  And I have incredible admiration for the men who boldly attempted it.  But the problem with those previous relationships was that, in loving me, these men always let me have my way.

At first glance, it's natural to wonder, "WHY did you leave these guys?!?"  I think that women, whether they admit it or not, believe that they're right most of the time.  Even if they don't say it out loud, their actions communicate, "if you just did it my way, we wouldn't be having this fight."  And for someone with as passionate a personality as mine, it was easy to think that I needed a partner who would recognize my strength and not suppress it (by telling me I'm wrong or that I needed to change).  I suspect that most women secretly wish that they got their way most of the time in their relationships.

But when the person with whom you hope to have an equal, cooperative, partnership always concedes to your will, it is difficult to respect him.  And a woman who doesn't treat her man with respect damages her relationship as equally as a man who doesn't serve the woman with love.     

My husband has met all my past boyfriends (all of whom I am thankful to now call friends), and he once asked me why I chose him.  I instinctively answered that he was the first man I had respected, the first man that I wanted to follow (as in, the first man I knew had the strength to be a leader even to me).  Michael was the first man (maybe person) to tell me I was wrong and to not back down from his opinion.  He took everything I dished out to him and served it right back to me.  That made for ALOT of fights.  Four solid years of world-record fighting at the start of our marriage, in fact.  But it's one of the things I respect about him - he fights back, and, somehow, still communicates his huge love for me.

Michael's love has taught me that being strong doesn't mean having your way all the time.  He has demonstrated that it takes a stronger person to admit when (s)he's wrong.  His strength invites my opinions because he wants to hear something different from his own and is unafraid to disagree.  We are stronger, together, when we don't hold back anything from each other.  Who knew that what a 'strong' woman like me really needed was a good kick in the pants?      

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