Men + Myself + God

Tag: Marriage

When I married my brother…

by P. Braithwaite

Did I ever tell you all about the time I married my brother?

Cue laugh track.

No seriously, I performed and wrote the marriage ceremony for my brother and sister-in-law. It was easily one of the best moments of my life. I bring this up because, while I honestly don’t remember the vows, one part always lingers: I promise to love you as God loves you, and see you as God sees you.

Sometimes I write things that I’m certain come thru me. I was suffering from a broken heart (as usual) and I wrote the vows from a deep longing for companionship.

I promise to love you as God loves you. I promise to see you as God sees you.

I want a lot of things. Last week, I wrote about wanting flowers and a bear. That’s still true, but more than anything, I want the embodiment of those vows. I want a relationship rooted in our mutual ability to see divinity in each other. This is the only way love endures. Even though we’ll fall short, the effort is key because humanity is a mother fu*cker and we all disappoint sometimes. People are flawed and sometimes loving them isn’t easy. So I want to be loved even when its hard. And I want to do the same for the people that I love. I want to love as God loves, forgive as God forgives, heal as God heals, and be cherished as God cherishes. I want to see universal order in another person — choosing to see the perfection in the amalgamation of flaws.

We are all works in progress, but love is our birthright and our DNA. It is in us, of us and through us…anything else is an illusion and a waste of energy.

How are you experiencing love today?

Operation STAY in Love: On Trying

by P. Braithwaite

I have a secret: I’ve never believed in marriage.

People find this odd because my parents appear to have this wonderful and successful marriage…I never feared them getting a divorce or anything like that. Yet, for a long time, I just didn’t believe in the institution. It seemed too permanent to me. How can I know now what I will want for the rest of my life? It’s 8:30 as I type this, and I don’t know what I’m going to eat at 9 am.

When I was dating my ex-boyfriend, Dr. Dolittle (I’m going to start giving these guys names…the ex’s are piling up), I spent so much time being uncertain.

I asked my mother, “How do you know? How do you know you want to get married?”

“You don’t know,” she said.

I was at the table with both her and father sipping tea and eating bagels. This is their morning ritual. My father, at the time, was silent — he doesn’t really do well with emotions.

Now, I should note that whenever I’d asked people this question before, folks almost always said, “ohh, you just know.” Maybe that’s true. I’ll let you know when I get there, but that’s not what my mother told me.

“That’s bullshit,” my mother said. “You don’t ‘just know’ anything. What you do know is: you want to try.”

At the time her notion seemed ludicrous. The idea that you would link your entire life to someone on a “hope” or a “try” seemed dangerous and irrational. Furthermore, I don’t want to replicate my parents’ marriage. It works really well for them, but I want something different, and so her insight made me more fearful of commitment.

I thought: There has to be something to “know,” some tangible evidence that this is the person “for” you.

The truth is, three years later, I think my mother is more right than wrong (hi mom). I STILL believe there is a “soul knowing,” a part of you that feels like you are exactly where you are supposed to be, or a sense of intrinsic connection (though that doesn’t necessarily mean forever), but lately I’m realizing connection alone is not enough to sustain a relationship. More and more, I’m understanding commitments (not just romantic ones) are about a sincere and profound willingness to try.

A (soul) partner isn’t the magic elixir to your life.I don’t think that you look at them and discover that you’re magically equipped to deal w/ their shit, plus your shit, plus the random shit of life. They don’t hold your hand and make you less of a wounded mess. On the contrary, partners kick up shit, trigger insecurities (not purposely; that’s just mean) and shake you outside of yourself. They expose the broken bits and then — my guess is — you both must try to heal.

So even with the most passionate soul connection, there has to be a MUTUAL willingness to try…because 37 years later, whether you are soulmates or not, it comes down to two m-effers at a kitchen table eating onion bagels and talking about the leaky roof. And in those moments where one of you hasn’t yet researched a good roofer, or in the moments where your soulboo is a guy who smells like balls or a girl who hasn’t shaved her legs …you’ve both gotta WANT to try.

The truth is this: we at some point, almost inevitably, forget the person with whom we fell in love. We take loved ones for granted, and sometimes even soulmates, look like assholes.

And that’s when we have to try, and in trying, we take the risk of failing. And so some days, trying means not killing each other, and other times trying gives us energy to squint our eyes so we can actually see the person we “know” we’re meant to be with…

And some days, trying is just shutting the f*@k up.

But, if we can do that, if we can all manage to try…I’d bet this committment thing gets a little easier.

What Language do you Love in?

by P. Braithwaite

A while back, in an effort to salvage my train wreck of a relationship, I attempted to read Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. His basic premise is that we all experience love in different ways/through different things. In short: we all love differently.

Admittedly, I never got thru the whole thing, but I did take the quiz. And I learned that my love language is time.

You know how folks say the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? Well, for me….it’s through quality time. If you love me you make time for me.

I can trace this all the way back to when my mom and I had weekly dates – mommy daughter dates. I remember being annoyed that my mom had to write our weekly dates into her calendar – to me, if it was important, she’d remember. Now, as a 28 year old with gazillion jobs and obligations, I get it – you schedule the important stuff, and forget about the rest. Those weekly dates were awesome (they usually involved a good meal and a trip to the mall – heaven for 16 year old me), and the fact that once a week we got to spend time together really did wonders for our relationship.

Chapman’s other “love languages” includes: physical touch, gifts, kind words etc.

Here’s the thing: I’m coming to understand that not everyone loves the same way. Intellectually I know this, but in the context of my friendships and relationships, I think I forget that not everyone loves like I do. What I may think of as soooo loving, may not register that way for my partner or friend. And, conversely, what I’m receiving, while loving, may not be fulfilling my love need. You touch my arm and call it love, I may call it something else. If I except my best friend to call me every day and she doesn’t…does she love me any less? If I call her every day when she’s depressed, am I loving her or annoying her?

Life is weird. People are weirder, but I think it’s important to know what makes you feel loved and cared for, and it’s important to understand how best to communicate our love to the people in our lives.
Life’s too short for miscommunications. Though I don’t live this every day, I’m trying to remember that life’s too short to do anything other than love deliberately and artfully, I guess….

What makes you feel loved?