Relationships are funny man - 2 people from different backgrounds, different families, and totally different ways of doing things coming together to hopefully find the 1 gift that everyone wants in life – Love.
Then come’s the marriage, and the career, and the babies. It can be a little intimidating but it’s what a lot of us hope for someday.
What most young couples, especially us men, don’t understand though are the sacrifices that need to happen in order for a relationship to work and thrive. Sacrifices like thinking of your partner before thinking of yourself.
Now I am in no way sitting here trying to give you relationship advice. I’m no relationship expert. I’m just a guy who has failed so many times in his own relationship but luckily, because I was able to learn from those failures and because I had a girl who saw not only who I was but who I could become, I’m able to share with you the things I’ve learned so that hopefully you can feel a little bit better about your current situation.
-THE MOMENT IT ALL CAME CRASHING DOWN-
The year was 2011. After about the 25th phone call with no answer, I threw my phone against the wall and the tears began to flow. My girlfriend of 2.5 years had finally had enough of my bullshit and was on the next flight to Africa with her sister who is a humanitarian photographer.
I knew I had screwed up and I knew I really hurt her…. And this wasn’t the first time. On multiple occasions I had let my own insecurities hurt our relationship. Insecurities like not feeling confident in who I was and therefore not really believing I had much to offer. So to make up for that, I would go out and get validation from other girls, which made me feel good and made me feel accepted. On the outside I had it all together, but on the inside I felt empty.
During high school and early in college, I can admit that I craved attention from girls. I absolutely loved it and would do anything in my power to continue getting it.
I remember posting photos on social media of me without a shirt on so I could see which girls liked it and which girls would be the first to send me a message telling me how good I looked. I would even add some type of quote to make it sound more motivating or positive. Something like, “to be or not to be…” Or my favorite, “there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”
-SO RIDICULOUS & SO STUPID!!-
Now I won’t get into the specifics of all the mistakes I’ve made, but there were many. After each time I’d mess up, she would let me know how upset she was. But because I begged and pleaded and told her I’d never screw up again, she’d forgive me and we’d move on. But clearly, I wasn’t learning my lesson. When she caught me this time, she had had enough.
For days I would call her but got no response. I would leave voicemail after voicemail apologizing and begging her to please forgive me and to please give me another chance…no response.
Finally after about 2 weeks of her not talking to me and me sitting in my pain and guilt, she explained to me in an email that she wasn’t going to be with someone who didn’t treat her the way she deserved to be treated. She told me that she wanted to be with a man, not a child. She then said goodbye.
I was crushed.
I realized in those few weeks alone with my thoughts that I was so in love with her, but because of my immaturity and selfishness, I had lost her. I had lost the best thing to ever happen to me. I hadn’t cared about what I did or who I hurt – all I cared about was making myself feel a little bit bigger and a little bit cooler. I knew this wasn’t how I was raised or who I wanted to be.
I read in a book recently that there are 2 kinds of pain in the world - The pain of never changing and the pain of changing. I had been living with the pain of never changing for far too long and I didn’t want to live this way anymore.
I realized that in order for a change to really happen, I had to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask myself, “Is this the man I want to be?” Or better yet, “Is this the man that God wants me to be?” This was the moment when I knew in my heart that I was ready to make that change and this time, I was serious.
I knew this change wasn’t going to happen overnight. It was a long process that took a lot more than my carefully thought out words – It took action- A LOT OF ACTION. I had to prove to her that I was ready and committed to be in this relationship. I had to build that trust again.
It wasn’t easy and it took some time for her to come around. But because she believed in me and because she NEVER GAVE UP, here we are 8 years later about to be married.
I’m so thankful that Anna did what she did. Without her standing up for what she believed in and standing up for what was right, we probably wouldn’t be together today. But because she did take that stand and because she demanded to be treated like the amazing woman she is, she made me want to become a better person. I no longer wanted to be a child. I wanted to be the Man that my mother raised and the Man that loved Anna the way she deserved to be loved.
-CALL TO ACTION-
Now listen bro – In life there will be moments where we hurt the people we love. There will be times where your mistakes cause you to hit rock bottom. But instead of staying in that place, we have the opportunity to lift our heads up, learn from our mistakes, and become a better man because of them.
Maybe you’re in a relationship with someone and you’re taking her for granted. Maybe you’re being dishonest and doing something behind her back. Or maybe you’re in love with her but like me you struggle with your own insecurities - which cause you to do stupid shit like finding other girls to make you feel validated….
If this is you, I just want to encourage you to #1 - own up to the mistakes you’ve made and admit to yourself that a change needs to happen. We can’t fix a problem if we won’t admit that we have one. #2 – Do what you can to rebuild the trust that’s been broken. It doesn’t happen overnight, so stay patient. And #3 - work on Loving and accepting yourself. If you don’t first love yourself, how will you be able to love someone else?
But most importantly, If you have a partner like mine who won’t stand for the bullshit and who makes you want to become a better man, do whatever you can to make that relationship work because I promise you in 5-10-15 years down the road, you’ll be grateful you did.
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, John C. Maxwell:
“Take time to express your love and appreciation for the people closest to you. Tell them how much they mean to you. Write them notes telling them how much you care. Don’t ever assume that people know how you feel about them. Tell them…better yet, SHOW THEM. Nobody can be told or shown too often that he or she is loved.”
To my soon to be wife Anna – I love you baby and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking by me and for helping me understand what it means to be a man of God. A man who loves, respects, and honors the 1 woman he’s with. We have an incredible life together but I know none of this would be possible of course without God, but also without you doing what you did and being who you are. I continue to fall in love with you every single day.
I hope this encourages somebody out there to keep fighting for Love! PLEASE SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEEDS IT!
Be a #Gentleman. Be a #Mentor. Be the #Difference.