Reclaiming Authenticity in Marriage
Kristin Armstrong, a freelance writer and contributing editor for Runner’s World magazine, and the ex-wife of cyclist Lance Armstrong, writes about “getting back the real me … one heartbreaking and publicly failed marriage later” (Kristin Armstrong on Marriage, Glamour Magazine, May 1, 2006).
If I were to do things over again, I wouldn’t have thrown myself so irrevocably into my new life. I would have guarded the things that made me feel like me — the places, the friends — and above all I would have spoken up about my needs. Instead, I will leave you with a lesson about how a woman can hold on to the bright, hard flame of who she is.
If your husband asks what you think, tell him. If you have a preference, voice it. If you have a question, ask it. If you want to cry, bawl. If you need help, raise your hand and jump up and down. I spent five years juggling kids, travel, cooking, smoothing. I never once said that I couldn’t do it on my own, or that I was just plain tired. I became a prisoner to my own inability to say uncle when life squeezed me too hard. The warden was pride, and I remained in maximum security.
The time may come when you realize that the only way to restore the meaning to your marriage is to get back the real you. It requires warrior-size courage to take a stand against the miscommunication, deception and emotional distance that breed in the shadows of in-authenticity. You will have to boldly step up to the line and speak from your heart. You will have to own your words (spoken and unspoken), your actions (done and undone) and the consequences of both. If I ever marry again, I will have cue cards prepared with “Yes, I do know what I want,” “Make me laugh and I’ll get over it” and “I need you, please help me.”
I know that one day my daughters will face these same challenges. At age four they are already starting to form their own dreams of a handsome prince on a white horse. Without destroying the beautiful elements of their innocence, I long to prevent them from a disappointment like mine — so with each step between now and then, I vow to myself and to them to be real.
I hope that as they watch me painstakingly reclaim my hard-earned authenticity, they will manage to guard their own. And when they do decide to wed, they will bring to their marriages the greatest gift of all: a unique and unshakable sense of self.