The secret to a successful marriage? A little independence.
Allow me to explain. Actually, let me take that back. There's not much to explain, because my theory simply comes down to this:
I think every woman should live alone before marriage.
Not only do I think that living alone is just plain fun (or maybe that's just my introverted version of fun?), but I really think that time spent living alone is crucial to a marriage. Women, especially, are so attuned to the needs of others and marriage, by its very nature, is a constant vigilance and emotional recalibration with your partner. Marriage is the complete opposite of living for yourself; it's quite literally, often times putting aside your own needs, wants, and desires for the love of your partner or the combined good of both of you as a couple.
And while I think that the selflessness and love of marriage is beautiful and worthy, I also think that there is an inherent beauty in respecting yourself first with the gift of independence before you enter into holy matrimony.
Granted, that gift of solo time doesn't have to take long — my lonely summer sojourn was a mere six weeks — but I learned the value of giving myself time to meet my own needs, dream, and find my passions. There is just something about true independence that can only be found by experiencing living completely on your own. I felt, strange as it is to say, like I was putting a "pause" button on life, preparing and charging up for the next season, a season on intense giving through marriage and parenthood, that was to come in my life. I felt like I was taking a literal — and figurative — deep breath.
And come to find out, I'm glad I charged my batteries when I did, because I found myself pregnant a few months later, married six months down the road, and living life full-speed ahead with three kids and almost six years of marriage where I find myself sitting today.
But every now and then, on a rare afternoon like today, when the kids are at the babysitter's and the hubby's working late, I think back to the time by myself and the girl who drank margaritas alone and watched the sun set over the water every night.
Because I know she's still there, deep down, rooting for me and cheering me on to a bigger and better version of myself in this crazy journey called marriage.
And occasionally calling for me to come spend some quality time with her.