How Yoga Saved My Marriage

How Yoga Saved My Marriage

How Yoga Saved My Marriage…

Before I discovered yoga back in 2007, my marriage— and quite frankly, my life— always felt like it was on the brink of falling off some unseen cliff.  There was always a gray cloud hovering over us, weighing us down with so much- stress, tension, problems, family difficulties, financial issues- things that we didn’t even begin to know how to deal or cope with.  We just knew we had to and did our best. 

But our best was never good enough.  The problems and stresses always hovered over us.  Just when one would finally be resolved, a newer, often larger one would be waiting to take its place. 

And all of this took its toll on our young marriage.  The honeymoon phase came and went in a flash.  If there even was one.  Technically, probably not.  You see, like so many these days, we didn’t wed under ultra-idealistic circumstances. 

We each brought children into the marriage, creating an instant blended family, that was, to say the least, nothing like the Brady Bunch!  As if that weren’t enough, we were both university students just struggling to get by.  So, no huge beautiful wedding paid for by our parents or a long, leisurely, exotic honeymoon.  We had a D-i-y wedding in the mountains over Thanksgiving break with a quick weekend stay in a small cabin as our ‘honeymoon’, after which we got to promptly return to our busy schedule and the kids!

But, you know, none of that mattered, because we were desperately in love, and there was nothing we couldn’t face together.  We were partners in every way, (I’m sure many of you have felt the same.)  And, while that’s a beautiful concept, it never quite seems to hold up to real life, and it certainly didn’t for us, either.

Sooner than I could have imagined, our wedded bliss was undermined by problems, less sex, tension, arguing, hurt feelings, and a sense of disconnection.  And it was a rude awakening. Whatever happened to ‘love will conquer all?

This was especially true when it came to attempting to mesh our individual, pre-established parenting styles, something that I guess we assumed would just line up beautifully, since we had ‘everything else’ in common.  Well, let’s just say they didn’t!  And let me tell you, that was very nearly a recipe for disaster.

And if there were ever a topic to get heated about, parenting is definitely it! Imagine someone not only getting all up in arms in an attempt to defend their views and habits, but getting uber protective over their kid on top of it! Not exactly setting the scene for loving connection and sexy feelings toward one another, is it? 

Well, this was basically the picture of our marriage for the first five years.  And by this point, I really didn’t think we were going to make it, and to be honest, I had been at the point that I didn’t even give a damn anymore.  I was beginning to seriously disconnect from the relationship.  It was pretty much just a matter of time. . .

And then came yoga.  It’s kind of a funny story how we began.  I had already been practicing on my own for about 3 years, since my pregnancy.  But it wasn’t something I had been openly sharing with my husband, as he and his family had poked fun at me the first time I mentioned it, so I made darn sure to never bring it up again. 

So, for the next three years, I did my yoga in ‘secrecy’ when my husband was at work.  I couldn’t afford to go to classes in a studio, so I bought a few videos to do at home, they were pretty hokey.  But I didn’t know any better, so I stuck with it.  And I knew nothing about yoga.  Living in Oklahoma at the time, I didn’t know anyone else who did it, so I felt like a bit of a hippy outcast.  Nonetheless, I continued anyway. 

Besides my own practice, I was doing Mommy and me Baby yoga and later, Mommy and me Toddler yoga.  It was a wonderful way to connect with my child, as well as a wonderful way for me to care for myself and work on getting my pre-pregnancy body back.  It also gave me a sense of serenity.  And I wished more than anything I could share this with my husband. 

But I didn’t feel I could.  Sad, I know.  He just wasn’t quite there, open enough, and I didn’t feel I could deal with his judgments bursting the beautiful yoga bubble I had carefully and painstakingly created for myself. 

So, at this point you’re probably wondering how on earth I finally got him to try yoga, right?  Well, the way it happened was quite unexpected and pretty silly.

It was the Christmas of 2009 and Donley wanted to buy the kids a Wii game system.  Until then, I had tried to keep my home ‘video game free’, so let’s just say, I wasn’t having it— not to mention the darn thing cost upwards of $300, and that wasn’t small change for us!

Alas, he wasn’t taking no for an answer and I was tired of fighting, so I let him do what he wanted.  Little did I know that buying a darn video game system would turn out to be the blessing that would lead to a complete transformation of our marriage and ultimately, our entire life!

I’m sure you must be wondering how we made this seemingly impossible leap, right? Well, along with the Wii console, he bought a Wii Sports package, which among its many activities, included yoga.  Et voila! One night months later, Donley was looking for something new to try on the game system, so ironically he decided to give the yoga version a shot.

I was shocked and quite frankly, found this to be pretty hilarious.  And because my husband tends to have a bit of a competitive streak, especially with himself, he got sucked in pretty quick.  Here he was, very proudly showing me how good he was at doing the poses, saying how this ‘yoga stuff’ is so easy, while I’m looking on from the couch rolling my eyes and smirking.

And since up to that point I had not engaged in doing anything on the new shiny game system (I’ve just never been into video games, books did it for me), he started trying to coax me into doing this with him.  So I went ahead and obliged him, just a few times.

And it’s funny, because Donley was like really into it.  So, when he wanted to keep doing it, I finally bit the proverbial bullet and said “Why don’t you try yoga with me sometime? You know, get the full experience.”  I expected him to snicker and give me a ‘no, thanks.’ But, I also figured at this point, what did I have to lose?  And more than anything, I wanted him to see what it was really about, why I loved yoga.

And he agreed!  I could hardly believe this was happening.   I reached for one of my yoga DVD’s (not the mommy and me ones, though!) and popped it into the DVD player.  And he actually enjoyed it!  Though he did say the lady in the video was a bit hokey (well, I did get it on clearance, and at the time had no idea who to look for). 

Still really not knowing a thing about yoga or who’s what out there, Donley and I went to the store the next day and found Gaiam’s products, and seeing Rodney Yee’s, figured, well, he’s Asian, so he must know what he’s doing, right? and bought a few of his DVD’s. 

We immediately started getting up half an hour earlier every morning to do his A.M. yoga.  That was the first change.  But it wasn’t merely the act of getting up a bit earlier that mattered.  It was the fact that we were doing something together, rather than flipping on the television to watch the news (something I was never a fan of, so much violence!), we were engaging in something together.

It was from this sense of having a shared common interest that everything else was born.  Suddenly we had something to talk about, aside from kids and work and domestic issues. Something that meant something more, that we both felt excitement for.

We now had something to aspire towards together, giving us a renewed passion for life which inevitably led to an increased passion for each other and more emotional intimacy, all of which we were so desperately needing.

Through the act of holding more personal and profound discussions and growing in the same direction together, we found more sensitivity and understanding towards each other, more interest in being kind, preserving and uplifting the relationship, keeping our relationship sacred, and realizing what a truly precious gift it was to be in each other’s life.

Yoga opened the door to many other beneficial changes in our lives as well, all of which also impacted and strengthened our relationship even more. We started being more concerned with the world around us and the environmental impact we were making and felt motivated to move towards healthier eating choices and making conscious living choices in every area of our lives.

Suddenly we felt inspired to transform our living space and grew closer still by engaging in various projects together building an outdoor sanctuary to enjoy together, and, naturally, do yoga in! (Building and creating together is still one of our fondest memories!)

So, you can see when compared to our marriage before yoga, how many more levels of common interest we now shared. 

All this also made us think about the way we approached parenting and helped us begin to arrive at a common ground in this area that had before been fuel for many fights and power struggles.

And, perhaps most important of all, yoga led us on the path of discovery, together, our own version of spirituality, something which had been absent from our lives.  That alone transformed our lives, our marriage, our parenting and eventually our careers and entire lifestyle, and for this, I am ever grateful!

All that from doing a 30-minute ‘stretching exercise’ routine each morning 😉

With Infinite Love,

Áine McGowan

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