I cringe to think that when I crawled out of the sandbox and got married at 20 years of age, my prefrontal cortex- the logical, thinking, planning area of the brain- was nowhere near developed! That doesn’t happen until about age 25.
I remember my mother asking me on my wedding day “Is there anything about Jay you would change?” Without hesitation, I answered a resounding, “No!”
Twenty-three years later, I might be able to find a few things to change, but the truth is, we are still going strong...most days!
Despite our enduring marriage, I would never recommend marrying at such a young age. The odds were stacked way against us, and the road has not always been easy. So why did it work for us? Might have been dumb luck. Or it might have been that we were incredibly mature (not likely!).
I know for certain that I never thought about why Jay was right for me at the time; I just felt it. Unfortunately, many people do this and their relationships fail miserably. But I grew up in a home with two parents who taught me that married love was a partnership- it did not name-call, it did not shame, it did not smother, it did not control, it was never violent. Married love made sacrifices, was loyal, trusting, affectionate, and was just as important as the kids.
My parents did not sit me down and teach me this. They role-modeled it. This is what I knew married love to be. It was hard-wired into the neurological pathways of my brain from the time I was a tiny baby. So when I met my husband, it was easy. He felt like home.
But what does home feel like to you? What do you know about love? For many, love is associated with sexual and/or physical abuse, neglect, and emotional pain, so when you find the partner that feels like home, you’ve found more suffering. Or you may simply decide to stop looking for love, and instead build up your walls against the possible heartache.
If this is your story, it is not to say that you can never experience a healthy, loving relationship, or that your marriage, partnership or future love life is doomed! It may just be a wonderful opportunity to seek help, so you can heal your past, re-wire some of those neurological pathways, and build a more meaningful relationship with yourself, and your current or future partner.
What do you want to teach your children about love?