Why I Told My Husband to Stop Pursuing Me
As my 30th birthday approached in February of 2016 and our five year wedding anniversary coming up the next month, I looked forward to reaching some new level of God knows what. For some reason, I thought that I would wake up on my birthday and have a sudden shift in perspective. Everything would just make sense. All the life lessons that came from the hurdles and mistakes I made in my twenties would simply click.
Finally, I would be woke. Enlightened, even.
When my birthday came, the only thing I woke up with was a hangover and I saw life through the same foggy lens as the day before. It broke me. Throughout that year, I started to experience this overwhelming sense of feeling caged in. As a result, I rebelled against anything that I thought jeopardized my freedom. The only issue was that I really wasn’t clear on what I needed to be free from, if anything.
Working on Me
Two years later, Wes and I were contemplating divorce but not before seriously buckling down and truly trying to make it work. The couples counseling was helpful but the individual work is what really lifted the haze. As Wes addressed his own areas that needed healing, I succumbed to a much needed crash course in spirituality. For me, it wasn't about religious belief, I knew I was a Christian. This was about cultivating awareness and a centered approach to life that gave every moment meaning. During that time, I was able to identify and reach the core of my own issues:
Hello. My name is Kharissa Forte and I am a passion hunter.
The thing about my personality is that I am a very fervent woman. If I’m committed to something, I go the distance. At the same time, that commitment usually only occurs because I’m excited by newness. When the novel wears off, my zeal goes out the door, too. It can be anything: a job, a diet, a relationship, a book – once I’m bored, I’m done.
In life, everything gets old eventually. Actually, it’s not even so much about things getting old as it is about things becoming normal and routine. Normalcy is bad news for women like me and normalcy is what I was seeking freedom from. But, when you’re devoted to something really important (like, um, marriage…) you have to find a way to embrace normalcy even when the passion is long gone.
The Lie: Passion and Pursuit
Both my husband and I were taught to keep the passion alive by always pursuing each other.
Aren’t you exhausted? The thought of always trying to catch and to please wore both of us out, as it should. Living in constant pursuit of each other omits the principle of rest and grace that's so necessary for a marriage to be healthy. Not to mention, the word passion comes from the Latin word pati which means "to suffer." I find this both hilarious and sad.
“What is it?” he asked. “There’s something about us that worked when we were dating that we’ve lost… and it’s not pursuing each other.”
He was kneeling at the end of the bed as if he were about to say his prayers or beg me for answers, maybe both.
I was sitting in the middle of the bed, Indian style, with the laptop propped open in front of me. I nodded in agreement.
“I know, babe,” I said. “It’s like… I don’t need to be pursued. I just need to be embraced.”
He pushed away from the bed and shouted, “Yes! Me, too. I just want to feel safe and accepted. Not like I need to earn your love every day.”
I exhaled and smiled. We were definitely on the same page.
I typed the words define pursue in Google and define embrace in another tab. The results astounded both of us.
Pursue means “to follow in order to catch or attack.” It comes from the Latin word prosequi which means "to prosecute." Yes, like an attorney involved in litigation who is looking to prove the accused guilty of a crime.
Embrace means “to accept or support willingly and enthusiastically.” This word comes from the Latin words in and bracchium which means "in arm" as in linked together side by side.
The Truth: Embrace and Accountability
As our conversation continued, we realized that embracing each other for who we are, where we are in this space, time, and season right now today was the secret.
Not trying to restore passion.
Not living in endless pursuit.
We also realized that if we apply this same mentality to our friendships, jobs, and other endeavors, we will experience a fulfillment that chasing passion and being in constant pursuit could never bring.
Another thing we recognized was that trading pursuit from embrace didn't mean we couldn't hold each other accountable. One of the beauties in any authentic, genuine partnership is being able to challenge each other to grow and be better people.
It's been two years now. Untangling those knots from our mis-education of passion and pursuit and learning how to embrace once another instead has been quite the process but it's also been the most rewarding and the healthiest thing we could have ever done for our marriage.