When you're with someone as long as my partner and I have been with each other, it's easy to lose sight of the defining elements that make you, you. Part of living live is evolving so to say I'm the same woman I was (nearly) thirteen years ago when I met my husband would be a lie. Part of our relationship and marriage comes with compromise, sure, but there are some things I refuse to sacrifice for my partner in order to retain the pieces of me I deem most important.
While my partner graduated high school and went on to graduate college only to return to his roots to get a job, I took another path. One month after my high school graduation, I married my high school sweetheart. Against everyone's wishes, we thought we knew what we were doing and just four years later, that marriage rightfully dissolved. We tried our damnedest to make it work but aside from serious issues (such as infidelity and mistrust), the truth was, we wouldn't survive because there were things I couldn't sacrifice for him, just as there aren't things I'm willing to let go of for my partner now.
In 2004, as a young woman still trying to find her way, I moved to another state — away from my family and all that I knew and loved — to be with my (now) husband. I didn't have a solid plan for my life or where I was meant to go, only a vague idea of where I wanted to be ten years into the future. Our relationship was one lesson after another, filled with all the usual drama and antics two sprite kids in their early twenties might experience. We couldn't have been more different and, well, more perfect for one another. However, that doesn't mean the road to where we are now would be an easy one (hint: it wouldn't).
It was a risk I was willing to take because I know myself, what I'll settle for, and what I absolutely won't. It's not selfish; in fact, I think it's self-love. In order to be everything my relationship needs, I have to be everything I need, first. Through the years of growing up in misguided, volatile situations in regards to my divorced parents and their relationships after, my ideals had been ingrained so early on I couldn't veer from them even if I wanted to. (For the record, I didn't want to.) I wanted to be so vastly different from all I'd been raised around and I knew I'd be stronger for it whether I was with someone, or alone.
Now that my marriage is approaching its 10 year anniversary, I can honestly say, in holding onto the things I value most, we're strong and I like to hope our children will see this and put their own personal values first in any relationship they encounter.