“Do you love him more than you love yourself?” My answer to that question promptly ended our one and only pre-marriage counseling session. I said “I don’t love him more than I love myself but I love his as much as I love myself. To do otherwise would position me for abuse.” The room immediately got quiet. I could tell that no one was expecting that answer. In fact, I was a little surprised at my answer. After a tense moment, the pastor confirmed the date of the wedding and showed us to the door ending our meeting. I thought, well that was quick.
As I got older I spent some time thinking about my answer to that question. It was a philosophy that I didn’t realize that I had until the question was presented to me. Through scriptures I learned that I must love others as I love myself. Yet this seems to be contrary to what is emphasized in our society today. We are bombarded with messages of love at any cost. According to the media if we are the right size, have the right car, clothes and makeup then we are worthy to receive the love of others. But before you can properly manage a loving relationship with someone else you must learn to love yourself, flaws and all. When you love yourself you will not make decisions that go against your values or are not in your best interest. And if someone really loves you they won’t ask you to make those types of decisions to prove your love. I didn’t want to walk into a long term relationship determined to make someone else happy while losing my authentic self.
It’s been more than 35 years since Rob and I sat in that office a few weeks before our wedding. So far we have successfully navigated all the “for better or worse” moments of our marriage. That’s a good thing because I did skip one part of the vows. That whole love, honor and obey thing, I said “love and honor” and smiled. The pastor smiled, shook his head and continued with the ceremony. It’s been a wild ride. We have both grown and are happy with ourselves and each other. See, it really is possible to love yourself while loving someone else.