I thought life, as a married woman, was meant to be lived in harmony, aka "on the same page" as my husband. I suppose I was taught that somewhere along the way. I opted in as much as I could over the years, but in doing so, I lost the truest version of myself.
It's not what I meant to have happen, nor is it what my husband meant to have happen.
I forgot that being me is more important than being agreeable. I forgot that harmony doesn't mean placating or keeping quiet; cooperating until it's second-nature to follow suit, to conform. I forgot that being "on the same page" isn't as important as moving in the same direction.
From what I gather, this isn't unusual in marriage.
I am, and have been for some time now, rewriting myself minus the religious undertones and obsessive concern of what everyone else thinks. This is not about placing blame and pointing fingers; we all do the best we can with what we have at any given moment. My husband and I both admit to playing a part in the death of ourselves - the selves we were when we met, when we were individuals taking care of only ourselves and merely flirting with the idea of taking care of another; the selves we were when we fell in love.
My loss of self is a mirror to my husband's loss of self, and 10 years into our marriage we find ourselves staring at each other, blinking intermittently, wondering how we wound up this far away from who we were then and who we are trying to become, as individuals and as life partners.
We are incomplete.
When I moved out of my parent's home at 18, I began to inspect the draft of my life - who I was and what I believed according to who my parents were and what they believed - with microscopic focus, and I started the editing process. I reworded entire sections of my story and deleted others. I gave overused words new or less meaning. I experimented with my voice; the voice that had only ever whispered and echoed inside my head.
Over time, I grew comfortable with my life saved as a draft. I accepted incompleteness and limited permissions. But with marriage came a familiar, albeit unwanted status and we adhered to a set of rules - rules we never decided were ours, but were subconsciously slave to nonetheless. Being on the same page was key, and we granted permission to far too many people to have a say in how we were writing our stories as individuals, as a man and a woman, as a husband and a wife.
If you haven't been raised in a home and/or married into a family where a strict set of religious beliefs were written into your story, you may not have any idea what I'm talking about. Even though many beliefs we trusted and accepted as children - and on into our teens - are no longer an active part of our lives (because we are reclaiming our ability to choose), it can be difficult to fully escape them. Feeling guilty for discarding them is a constant battle.
My husband and I never wanted to get married - to anyone. We never discussed happily ever after while we dated, never waxed poetic about our dream house or the perfect number of children we would have (zero, in our case), and I think we were both surprised with every passing month we stayed together. We broke up a couple times only to find our way back to one another. We figured that must mean something. Something just clicked. And there was - and is still - a lot of love.
As I rewrite myself, my husband is rewriting himself. Together we are recommitting to the beauty of being incomplete, to the singular strength of our individuality, and to our collective strength as a couple. We aren't on the same page, but we are moving in the same direction. And permissions are officially restricted to just the two of us.