Here's a few things/You'll need to know if you wanna be/My one and only all my life//You gotta know how to treat me like a lady/Even when I'm acting crazy/Tell me everything's all right//Tell me I'm beautiful each and every night//And after every fight/Just apologize/And maybe then I'll let you try and rock my body right/Even if I was wrong/You know I'm never wrong.
-- Meghan Trainor, "Dear Future Husband"
My dear future husband, this catchy tune represents just a few of the ideas I had the first time around.
But it's the second time, and things have changed.
So let this be my song for you, #2.
1. Don't co-sign my BS.
The first time around my ego was a bit more fragile, mostly dependent on outside approval. I'm still fragile at times and I'm still working on my ego. It's just that now I know what kind of gremlin I'm dealing with.
Like Trainor croons, I selected partners that adored me and who would tell me I was "beautiful each and every night."
And then something weird happened. With all this adoration, I felt like I really couldn't do wrong. As in, I didn't dare mess up.
I acknowledge it was part of me from the start to seek approval but somehow everything coalesced and I started to internalize that outside feedback; and after building an identity around it, I began to fear being "less." Less than a good wife. Less than a perfect mother. Less than the highest performing person on the team. I lived to do it all "right." To be my own, unrealistic, and highest version of good. Self-righteousness at its apex.
I felt like if I didn't do it exactly right, someone's world would collapse. And that world probably wouldn't be mine.
It's a heavy weight, supporting the happiness of two people.
Dear future husband #2, that person isn't me anymore.
I only want to be as real as I am.
And am I beautiful each and every night? Well, tell me, can you see beyond my skin, embrace my imperfection and still find me beautiful?
Because here's a little something you need to know, if you want to be my one and only"
I screw up. I fix it if I can, but I don't hide those screw ups anymore.
I feel insecure, sometimes less often, sometimes more. I investigate it, but I don't hide those feelings anymore.
I get lost, not just when I'm driving, which is a practical navigation problem of mine, but spiritually and existentially, although less often in that intangible realm than back then. I don't pretend to know the way anymore.
I own these parts of me, now; and I've realized a truth.
So may I be egotistical enough to say, "Lucky you, dear husband #2"? Because I'll never blame you for a thing.
Wait. That's not true.
I won't blame you for as much.
Because I know that it's not because of you, or in spite of you, I do anything anymore. I pinned that stuff on number one, yes I did. And he did on me.
Two people looking for a reason for their unhappiness but not mindful enough to first look in the mirror. It always begins right here, with ourselves. Why didn't we know that?
It only ever was, ever is, me. It's me who must fix it. And it's me who must keep trying.
I want nothing more, nothing less, than to be this real, this effortful.
And then there are two, in partnership. Each with their own 100 percent responsibility.
Will you join me in this effort?
2. If I'm acting crazy, don't pretend it's all right
I need to own my garbage. Perhaps especially the crazy stuff. You don't need to take that on.
But remember, we all have bad days. Sometimes, I just need you to hold me. And I will give you that in return, dear husband number two.
And if you see I'm out of line, or being disrespectful, or lying to myself, just say so. That's your opinion. I respect it. Will I listen? Yes. Will I act on your advice? We'll see.
But remember to say it kindly, like we've got each others' backs. Soak that straight up commentary in love, before you hand it over. Because without it, there's a sting but no power.
3. You can tell me everything will be all right, if you really mean it.
You're not my human version of Atlas. I don't want you to support me and all the celestial spheres on your shoulders just because you're a man. I love what you give, I love when you give it, and I do admire your strength.
But you're not just an endless well. You need filling too.
This is an equal partnership, one where we ebb and flow. You rest in me; I rest in you. When you're tired, come home to me. When you're strong, go and be big in the world.
4. I'll never use sex as a reward or punishment
Your human spirit and intelligence are much too valuable to me to attempt to manipulate with my body.
I didn't spend much time in life learning how to "get a man" or make a man do something or another for me. But there's a whole collection of advice for women to do just that. Bait, hook. I realize how much it diminishes you, men, and the vibrant and complex human beings you are.
We're each worth more than tactics and strategies to orchestrate each other into behaving certain ways.
No. We're oceans to dive in, tapestries to explore, layers of human and spirit to wrap our legs and thoughts around.
If I give my body to you, and you give yours to me, this gift is an honor.
This is never based on you just telling me "I'm right," so that I can "let you rock my body."
Dear future husband, here's a few more things you need to know, if you want to be my one and only:
I'm wrong a lot of the time. So are you. We can hold each other accountable while we laugh at how silly we are for taking ourselves too seriously.
5. Do treat me like a lady, a woman, a gift that I am.
You can expect my reverence and regard. And I expect yours. Nothing less befits a woman, a man, any human being in a whole relationship.
Let's hold each other in the sacred space of our relationship and celebrate our choice often.
And now, go and grab your best-fitting gear before you dive into this marriage.
Because I swim fast, and I go deep, playing a spirited game as we skim the ocean floor, enter the caves, and then kick up to the surface for sunlight and a breath before we dive back again. And if I might say something cheeky, it is "please keep up."
Dear future husband, this is my love song to you. It might not always be pretty. It might not always be easy. But it's real. And it's worth it.