We recently received an email from a reader, Jacy, and we heard a story that is unlike any we've heard before. Despite what she's been faced with, she is making triumphant strides in carrying on with her life in a beautiful way. Also, she is currently in a relationship. Here was a question Jacy had for us........
Q: ... [Regarding] the story of all the emails, the immediate connection that was felt, the "I'm so glad we FINALLY found each other" thing... is it real? I mean... is it really real? I know you're not making it up, but is it as sweetly sickening (and I mean this in a very nice and even envious way) as it is portrayed online? Is your love story and your marriage really this wonderful?
A: Here is Danny's response to her. (I'll admit, this about did me in.) :
First off, we just wanted you to know that we love you :) Our own experiences have made us much more compassionate in general, and we feel a certain bond with those who carry some heavy burdens. It sounds like based on your email and recent comments on our blog, and the comments I've seen on the other blogs, that you are doing quite well despite all the craziness you've been exposed to. I love it! I love anyone that has the guts to continue living a good life after being exposed to even a tenth of what you've seen. Thank you for your courage.
Reading the last half of your email...I totally understand where you're coming from. Before I met Mara (who was the only person I dated post divorce), I had a year while going through my separation and divorce to decide what was really important to me, and what would be the conditions upon which I would date and marry someone. I was constantly weighing the value of different characteristics, I was creating lists of things that were absolute musts, and things that would simply be nice. Musts centered around the core of a person - 1) Character, 2) Shared spiritual convictions and commitment level and a desire to make charity the center of our lives (including someone who would be supportive when I felt called upon to spend time serving others), 3) Family (I wanted to my spouse to be in a healthy relationship with her family), and very importantly - 4) I needed someone to understand the concept of real Happiness (that it comes from them and not from me. I may add to it, but I'm not responsible for it, neither is a perfect set of circumstances). Other stuff like: do we like the same music? Are they a good kisser? Do I laugh endlessly around them? Are they "fun", beautiful, etc.?...all that would be nice, but was not going to be what decided it for me.
So imagine my surprise when the first person I meet/date...not only has all of my core things figured out, but shares all the other fun things as well. And on top of that, has characteristics that, had I thought it possible to ask for I would have, but it just seemed too unrealistic.
That being said....I know that Mara and I have something truly special and unique to us and our background. I don't think every relationship needs to be like ours...nor do I think that in 40 years we'll be talking about the "fun stuff" as much as we'll be realizing that it was the core of the person we are with that made life truly wonderful. In all honesty, I didn't care about all the "fun" stuff...I wanted someone who knew how to live life, to deal with trials, how to treat me and others, how to serve...cause I knew that more than anything else, those were the reasons I would respect, love, and honor that person. I wanted someone who knew how to cast aside fear, doubt, and anger in all it's forms, and knew how important it was to do that.
So, when I look at what I got with Mara, I'm amazed. It was certainly more than I was expecting or asking for. And to your question...What we have IS very real! And like I said, in someway unique to us. Don't spend time comparing your story to ours. Much of what we share as a couple does not, in my mind, need to be present in a truly great relationship. I look at the best relationships I know, and most of them are based primarily on core principles, and not on some spectacular story of romance.
I hope I haven't convinced you of one way or another with regards to your boyfriend. That's the last thing I want to do...since technically I know nothing of you or of him, and would hate to think that my advice pushed you one way when you could/should have gone another. The decision is truly yours and yours alone. My biggest suggestion is to think hard about what truly matters to you. Know it, deep down in your soul. Understand what things would be nice, but may be unnecessary. The better you know what is most important to you, the easier to make a decision, and feel confident about the decision made.
I think one of the reasons Mara and I connected so deeply, is we had both done that kind of soul searching and knew at our core what was most important to us. And when we met, we tested each other. Our first emails back and forth (see 'Love Story' on side bar) were ones in which we tried to see if the other person really understood choice, faith, love, service, happiness, peace. Only after those core principles were recognized and understood did everything else became very exciting. But at the heart of it...what is it that makes our relationship truly work? It's that when something rough comes up, I know how she'll respond and she knows how I'll respond. It is that core conviction that deepens my love and respect for her, and she for me. And when we aren't on the same page (if for a minute one of us is offended or stressed about someone or something), the other doesn't get all worked up and think it's about them...they just wait patiently and help the other come to a better place.
That's the reason we are in love! Because that is how we are committed to handling all of life, including each other.
Sorry, I'm probably rambling now, and have gone off topic. My final words would be...I'm confident in you to know what to do. My words shouldn't be the reason you come to one conclusion or another. It's about you realizing what is most important. The success Mara and I enjoy and plan to enjoy is based primarily on the fact that we both know the most important basics are all there....and that makes everything else more fun, and fills life with confidence that it will be well-lived and loved.
Danny & Mara
(Photo by the talented Saydi Eyre Shumway)
**************************This dear reader wrote back later to tell us she'd done a lot of thinking after writing the email and had come to some of the same conclusions on her own (go reader!!!) She then went through her own list of "Musts", confirming to herself that her man did, indeed, have everything she valued most. Realizing the need to compare was gone, she committed to living her own unique love story, which only she can have.
We want to have a few more posts in the future regarding this subject of knowing what love is & what it feels like going into a marriage. I think it's easy to get overwhelmed & confused with wondering if what you are feeling is enough. (Will it lead to a successful marriage?...will it last?) It can sometimes feel like such a mystery. I was a MESS in my twenties trying to figure this out, myself. Yikes. So this topic is very near and dear to my heart...and I want to share with you all that I can in case it might help anyone out there feeling a bit confused about it all. -Mara
If you are married - - What characteristics of your relationship turned out to be the most important? (Did you find that some characteristics you thought were important in your spouse turned out to be unimportant?)
If you are single - - What are the characteristics you dream of having in a spouse?