Hi. I’m Krystal and I’m married to a man I’ve waited a long time to find, Israel. Everyone can see the love we have for each other and we can really light up a room! We met at WeWork on South Beach and after just a few months of noticing us together, Dani Horowitz (community manager), asked me to share our love story on WeWork’s Creator and proclaim it from the mountain tops! I have to tell it like it is though, we love the shit out of each other and while we spend most of our time enjoying and appreciating our relationship, we’ve had some nasty fights.
It seems the deeper we go into our relationship, the more painful these fights get. We manage to pull it together and patch things up but the wound easily tears open again. This had me asking lots of questions like…
Why does this keep happening? Did I make the wrong decision? Is it him? Is it me? WTF is going on?
Past advice and common day ego boosting articles swam around in my head. It was the usual, “break up with him before he breaks up with you.” “Don’t answer his calls or texts and he’ll come running back.” “You shouldn’t put up with someone who treats you like that.” Whoa! Just yesterday I was madly in love with this person. Now he’s my enemy?
I guess they came from a good place but that only protected me from being vulnerable, the one thing that would save my relationship. Let’s be clear: pride and entitlement are fast tracks to destruction, not an ode to self worth.
In her book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene Brown writes,
“Love is uncertain. It’s incredibly risky. And loving someone leaves us emotionally exposed. Yes, it’s scary and yes, we’re open to being hurt, but can you imagine your life without loving or being loved?”
Step 1: Kill your ego!
At the peak of destruction and exhaustion, it seemed we were headed for an inevitable break and I had a choice. I could continue to side with my ego, who kept convincing me I was a strong woman and shouldn’t back down, or kill it and let my naked vulnerability be seen. Unfortunately, today’s society sees vulnerability as not standing up for yourself and being weak. The reality is, it takes actual guts to show your soft underbelly when your emotions are under attack. As tough as it was, I killed my ego. I chose to stop seeing him as the enemy and remembered my best friend.
Step 2: Give it room!
After you’ve killed your ego. Take some time to yourself and process everything that’s happened. When you spend so much time with someone, it can be hard to differentiate between your energy and theirs. If you take time to breathe and be with yourself, you’ll be able to find your center again.
So here’s what I did. I walked to a nearby coffee shop, opened up my laptop and began to write down my side of the argument. I spilled all my hurt feelings, my anger, and everything I wanted him to accept. It was an emotional dump that yielded the most beautiful release within me.
I felt so much better but when I went back to read what I wrote, I was blaming him for everything! I hadn’t written one thing about me or my part in this whole thing.
That’s when I took a deep breath and a long look at myself.
Step 3: Look at yourself!
How can I expect him to see the light and apologize for his part without me accepting mine? From experience, I can tell you. Nothing is more frustrating than someone asking you to do something that they are not willing to do themselves.
I know, I know. It’s the chicken and the egg but it’s true. Someone has to break the cycle. So I rewrote all of my complaints and asked myself to do the same things I was asking him to do.
I need to accept my role in arguments.
I need to stop taking it personally and be there for my partner.
I need to show compassion when there is pain.
I need to stay open and not run away when things get tough.
I need to take time to understand the root of the problem within me.
Most of all, I needed to remember that my partner is an imperfect human being who is an incredibly loving, amazing, fun, goofy, and shiny reflection of me. Which means, the things I see in him that anger me are only mirroring those aspects within myself.
Step 4: Act with love!
I chose to put aside pride, the need for respect, and the idea of ‘what I deserved’, to tell him I loved him. I came real, vulnerable, and raw to apologize for my part. I removed the blame and replaced it with compassion. Being vulnerable means he could have easily stomped all over my heart, knowing he had the perfect opportunity but it was a risk I had to take. In the end, it’s what saved our relationship.
This doesn’t mean we will never fight again, it means I choose to practice being self-aware in this relationship so we can continue going deep.
Each time we make it out alive, we celebrate and redefine our relationship. We consciously make a choice, together, to plunge into the depths of our souls and be there for each other as we continue our imperfect journey of two humans in love.
UPDATE: If you’re reading this now, I have written another article with a different perspective.
“If You Can Do This, You Will Make Better Choices.”