My clients come to me for magickal guidance for how to draw love, or save faltering relationships all the time. Lately, at least half my advice is on the necessity for letting abusive relationships end. As Valentine’s day approaches, I’ve been ruminating about what I think makes for healthy, long-lasting romance. I’ve learned the stupid way what NOT to do in a marriage. So, I’ve come here to report that any ol’ love is not enough. In our partnerships, we deserve to be cherished. Rather than waxing poetic about sticking it out, I’m here to make a case for divorce.
Now, now…hear me out. I’m not just bitter and bitchin’. I’m in a GREAT relationship. I LOVE romance. I wouldn’t even know what this cherished blessing could look like, if I hadn’t known the lessons of heartbreak. To be cherished is the golden opposite side of a spectrum that stands in stark contrast to being abused, and there is a slippery slope between them that I would caution you to avoid.
To be cherished is to know respect.
To cherish someone implies not only that you feel love, but that you also have a desire to protect and nurture your partner. To cherish someone is to treasure them, because you know better than anyone else how awesome they are, even with their foibles. You feel honored and proud to be in relationship with them. All of these complex dimensions in a cherished relationship implies a lot of humility on both parts. This is a love that comes with reverence, responsibility, and deep gratitude for each other that is not taken for granted.
To be cherished is to know freedom.
To feel cherished is a hopeful, empowering feeling – and the most deeply satisfying of all loves. I knew that I was cherished by my parents, and because of that confidence they instilled in me through their parental devotion, I felt absolutely safe and free to fly the nest and become my most daring self. Thanks to my Mama and Papa, I do know how being cherished feels on the receiving end of this bond. My feelings for them are mutual, though it required me growing up and maturing way beyond my teenage years to truly understand and return to them the same sense of responsibility.
Taking my turn, I cherish my children with a fierce devotion and gratitude that I can only hope they will someday come to fully understand. I’m so grateful that they chose me to be their mom. It is cliche, but I really would willingly lay down my own life to save them without hesitation. To love your child is to raise them into their own sovereignty without your own ego getting in the way. It is the most difficult paradox of a parent’s love: devote every iota of your being in preparation for launch into their own life. To be cherished is emotional freedom – the freedom to fly, and making the choice to return.
To be cherished is to know your own value.
As both a beloved child and a beloved partner, when I feel cherished I know that I am treasured as a person of great value. This adoration lifts me up and imparts the confidence I need to sally forth into the cold, cruel world and kick some ass. I know that no matter how brutal the fight, I can always return to the safety and rejuvenation of their loving arms.
To cherish your lover, means that you must also cherish yourself; neither feels owned, or owed, anything. With free will your lover chooses everyday to be present by your side, and are willing to work hard to earn that place. You do the same with reciprocity. In relationships, as in all endeavors, to be successful you must be present to win. To feel cherished means that I trust that I will never be forsaken.
To be cherished is to become a priority.
All of these ruminations bring to mind a meme that states:
Don’t make someone your priority, if to them you’re only an option.
When you cherish your partner, that bond between you effortlessly and easily becomes a priority in your life. You cease to even think in those terms, because in your mind, there are no other options. But by that same token, a cherished relationship MUST be mutual, or it could be reduced to exploitation and codependency. Reasonable boundary maintenance in a relationship requires that both of you are willing to step away from disrespect, or abuses. Neither of you should be able to get away with habitual violations of your love and trust. “Stepping away” doesn’t mean you run off to seek solace in another person’s arms. That is some weak tea.. I give zero passes for cheaters, folks: emotional, physical, or otherwise.
Listen, everyone has the occasional bad day. There can be explanations for when we falter that can be compassionately forgiven and corrected by our partners. However, there is no excuse to allow hurtful, abusive conditions to be enabled for long. In a relationship between sovereign beings, neither has control over the other’s choices, but we have absolute control over our presence, and our participation.
If your lover habitually violates your trust, here is what you can lovingly do: state clearly what behavior would be acceptable, step back and disengage until they willingly adapt to meet your needs, be willing to creatively discuss options until all parties are satisfied. In this way we earn our place by each other’s side.
I get that this form of “boundary maintenance” isn’t in the spirit of vows that include “until death do we part.” So, let’s make this the first tenet of “the patriarchy” we smash today.
How I learned this the Hard Way
Ten years ago, my ten year long marriage was in free fall. I’d discovered the hard way how little I was valued. My devotion could not be returned, despite our vows to tough it out “as long as we both shall live.” Between 20 and 35 years old, we’d grown in different directions, which was sad, but natural. The right thing to do when you no longer cherish your partner is to end the relationship. The temporary hurt it will cause pales in comparison to the harm caused by sticking it out for the sake of duty or convenience. Do everyone a favor; play your part as the “bad guy,” and leave with honor before something unforgivable happens.
When you don’t respect your partner, twisted seeds of compromise and denial will take root, like invasive weeds in the rose garden. The emotional and psychological twisting necessary to maintain the ruse, will eventually choke out the sun. In my case, what was once a dream romance, grew slowly and imperceptibly into a dark nightmare of delusion that went on for years.
Until at last the Universe rang the alarm so loudly I was forced awake. The long lie was the heartbreaking part. That is the wound I might have been spared. I live from my heart, so every revelation felt like fresh murder. After that, what self-loathing I couldn’t starve, I drowned. If a desperate will to be enfolded back into the cherished love of the Goddess’ embrace (otherwise known as dying) was all it took to shed this mortal coil? I’d long ago have been ash in the wind. It was touch and go there for awhile, but with swift action by my closest friends, and excellent mental health care providers, I survived to bring you this advice.
Check that: I *did* die. That husk of the forsaken wife that I was long ago? I definitely shed that skin… because it didn’t fit me anymore. From that death, the empowered woman I am today emerged. All of this was forced to be reckoned with after my initiation into the Craft. I dedicated a year to working with FIRE, and asked that all that didn’t serve my highest good be burned away, so that I could fulfill my sacred mission. <BOOM>
Turns out that to be my most effective self, I needed to feel cherished, and to cherish myself. I had to confront my delusion, examine the sincerity of my relationships, and to allow to leave my life anyone that didn’t appreciate the gifts I had to offer.
You won’t be surprised to know that The Tower card just kept popping up in all my readings that year. <snark>
How I cherished my children is the love that saved my life. When there wasn’t enough self-love to keep me going for my own sake, my desire to raise them in unconditional love was a choice I could make easily. Motherly devotion motivated me to dust off, open my shop, and make the world a more loving place for their sake. For them, I chose to let the fires temper me, rather than destroy me.
The moral of the story:
Perhaps reading this sparks a hard look at your own heart. Maybe my story makes you feel uncomfortable, or attacked, or offended. We might name that cognitive dissonance, and be grateful for the alarm bell that is rings. Lean into that yucky feeling.
If you’re in an unfulfilling relationship, even one where you love your partner on some level, but you know damn well you don’t cherish them…or you know they don’t cherish you…
Or, you look at your relationship in the day to day grit of choices and truths spoken through frustration, and you know that this relationship isn’t a priority anymore… Is there is a lack of gratitude or humble respect for each other? Are admiration and value no longer found?
If you don’t feel free to choose staying or leaving the partnership, then I would guess that your sovereignty is compromised. Need I remind you that Witchcraft requires personal sovereignty to be effective? Do you feel exploited, demeaned, or taken for granted?
I implore you to weigh your next move very carefully. This Valentine’s day, choose to be cherished. Choose to cherish those who will return your care and appreciate your gifts.
We have a choice to make every day: Invest the hard work to cherish your partner with such consideration that they will never doubt your loyalty; help your partner know what you need to feel the same consideration from them; Live up to those expectations, or set each other free.
It has been 10 years since I made that hard choice. Consider this my love letter sent to you from the other side of divorce. I now have an amazing partner who cherishes me faithfully and adoringly, and I return that respect equally. I would wish the same for you.
When you’re ready, this spell will help. A Bond-Breaking Spell for a Magickal Divorce.
In Divine Love,