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Things I Wish I Could Tell The Man I Thought I Would Grow Old With

Things I Wish I Could Tell The Man I Thought I Would Grow Old With

The early days of a wondrous new relationship tend to be filled with glee and magic–and incomparable hope. Ecstatic and exhilarated, we knit together futures we’re certain will unfold. We close the door to doubt and open our arms wide to love, opportunity, and the concept of together forever. And in that space, time dissolves, because we have all we need of it in the world.

So when the strength of a bond frays or a relationship ends tragically–death, divorce, infidelity–we shuffle forward in the dark, trying to recapture lost time, feeling the weight of regret and dashed chances. There are so many things we haven’t experienced together yet, we think. There are so many things left unsaid.

I had an inkling that my marriage was doomed to fail the moment I begged for marble countertops and ended up with brown granite instead. By then, however, we had tied the knot and I was three months pregnant with our child. An architect by trade, my husband claimed to know it all, from the interior structure of our to-be-remodeled home to the inner workings of my heart. As an alpha female who wasn’t used to yielding to someone else when it came to life’s decision, both big and small, the clashes between us grew so vast that they ultimately became as irreparable as a severed bridge. I was left bitter and resentful when I renounced trying to steer the ship. He, an introvert, was left bewildered and cold by the innate differences in our personalities.

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After time partially healed the pain caused by our separation, those things I left unsaid bubbled to the surface with such urgency I could hardly put down my pen. If you, too, are going through a divorce or a separation, know that it’s never too late to speak from that place he or she once touched: your heart.

You expressed your love in ways that took me time to understand.

Quiet and seemingly removed, my husband demonstrated that love can be given in silence and adoration in stillness; it is the sheer presence that counts.

I learned life’s greatest lessons from you.

Without my husband’s incredible influence of me, I would still be searching for someone to save me. He taught me that it is I–and only I–who can save myself.

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Love knows no boundaries.

Geographically, on paper, and to our friends and family, we may be apart. But true love, even if it doesn’t function in the traditional sense, persists. Such fondness doesn’t vanish; it only shifts.

Carpe Diem.

Through our separation, I’ve realized that to eliminate “tomorrow” from one’s vocabulary is to live life to the fullest. Seize what you have today, and love with all of your might–for nothing but a calendar can guarantee tomorrow.

I adored the child inside of you.

So focused on his career and his role as a father, my husband wasn’t inclined to let loose often. But when he did, such vividness and humor and cheer emerged. He might have been embarrassed when this side came out, but I relished every minute of it.

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There was such grace in your small gestures.

From making me coffee in the morning to ensuring I had enough books beside my bed when ill, my husband did a number of little things to elate me, comfort me, and demonstrate his love for me. Some of his kindnesses were left unacknowledged, and yet they never went unnoticed.

You’re still as attractive as the day I met you.

Time can ravish us, time can change us. But the beauty we see in our former partners–that essence; that light–never fades.

You know me better than anyone else.

There are few greater comforts than knowing that your love—whether he or she is part of your past or remains in your presence—knows and adores you through and through. My husband knew my secrets, my passions, my pet peeves, my moods. And there is tremendous beauty in realizing that, at times, no explanation is needed. You are who you are, he sometimes seemed to say in silence, and that is more than enough.

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I should have complimented you more often.

An athlete, a wordsmith, a designer, a fabulous father, my husband possesses myriad gifts that I should have praised more often. Were I to go back in time, I would have pointed out with greater frequency the talents of his that I so deeply admired.

I should have respected the way you argued.

While I raged, he disengaged—a pulling away that found me madder and more frustrated. I cannot change who I am, but going forward, I can temper my ire—and understand that we all navigate disputes differently.

I will cherish our memories together for life.

The first time I saw him. Christmas mornings with our daughter. Ice-skating at Lake Tahoe. Dining at five-star restaurants around the world. Bumping hips in the kitchen as we cooked. Laughing over a good movie, spooning in bed, toasting our glasses. All of these, and more, I will reflect back upon with a bittersweet mix of joy and nostalgia, always holding them near and dear to my heart.

I’m sorry.

When we were young, I thought my husband and I were indestructible. Despite our differences of opinion over innumerable issues. I apologize for the errors I made, the words I can’t undo, the pain I created. I want to tell him that I refuse to admit defeat, but I do accept that our time together has run its course; that I will always cheer him on from the sidelines. And from there, I say, thank you. You were my gift, my partner, my best friend, my goodbye.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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