I celebrated 13 years of marriage this week.

Often when I’ve looked back in my 30’s at getting married at 21, I have felt embarrassed. I would minimize my choice by calling myself “a baby in love” or joke that my brain wasn’t fully developed. When I leaned in, shame was talking and creating stories about my choice that weren’t honest or very helpful.

I often tell my clients how we think about “the facts” will determine our suffering or our empowerment.

The fact is I was 21 years old when I got married. Nothing changes that number now. How I look at that decision is my choice and will indicate how I feel about it AND how I show up in my relationship NOW.

So I’m choosing to look at that choice as brave. We were brave to take a chance on love. We were making an informed, thoughtful, joyful, and smart decision for ourselves at the time. That smile wasn’t fake. That joy was real. That 21-year-old didn’t feel shame; she felt excited, hopeful, and grateful. Loving someone is crazy brave, and the willingness to try and make a relationship work long term is BRAVE!

Choosing to be single is brave. Dating is so brave. Getting married is brave. Being honest and evaluating if remaining married is the right choice or not is brave. Exiting a relationship is brave. Separation is brave. Divorce is brave. Making choices with hope for a better future is BRAVE.

Wherever you are in your relationship journey (single, coupled, married, divorced, re-married, etc.) are you giving yourself the option of looking at your choice and circumstance in ways that empower you instead of shame you?

Are we harnessing our power to choose the narratives, feelings, and stories we tell ourselves about the facts?

That is where our strength and empowerment lie.

This post was fostered through a beautiful conversation with BrookeboothCoaching.com whose wisdom I appreciate and whose work I admire.

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