I’m sure it may come as a shock to some people, but I let my wife go. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but it was the right thing for the both of us.
No, we’re not getting a divorce and no, we’re not separating. Truth be told, the practice of “letting go” has actually brought us closer together. But in order to understand what I mean by “letting go,” you must first understand that Kim and I are two very different people.
In fact, the differences between us were Kim’s primary concern with us getting married. “Seth, a fish may love a bird,” she said. “But where would they live?”*
I smiled at the comparison because it’s fairly accurate.
Kim and I are incredibly different people. She’s the oldest in her family; I’m the youngest in mine. She’s very responsible; I’m…very much not. She loves the city; I prefer the country. She loves healthy food; I love junk food. She enjoys school; I despise school. She wants to watch British dramas; I’d rather watch comedies. She loves to sing and dance; I’d rather not. She prefers flying; I prefer driving. She loves to be with people, and I’d prefer to be alone. Kim is a driven, career-minded, goal-oriented woman, while I, on the other hand, am a laid-back fellow who prefers gardening and writing over anything else.
To put it simply, Kim is an extrovert while I am an introvert. Frankly, it sometimes amazes me that Kim and I even met—let alone got married!
But after knowing Kim for ten years, I knew that I simply couldn’t live without her.
Despite their many differences, the fish loved the bird and the bird loved the fish.
So we put our faith in that love and did the only thing a fish and a bird could do: we got married and built a bird bath.
The bird bath is a symbol for our middle ground—the place where we come together—but it’s also the place from which we feel comfortable to let each other go. To “let go” of someone is to love them enough to let them fly or swim away (or to be themselves) and yet trust that they will always come back.
For if we truly love each other, we have to be willing to “let each other go” to become the best versions of ourselves. Kim encourages me to keep swimming (develop my talents), and I encourage her to fly higher (chase her dreams).
Abusive, one-sided relationships are heartbreaking to me. How can we claim to love someone and then try to limit that person’s identity? Marriage is a union, to be sure, but it’s a union that should liberate, not incarcerate. Real love shouldn’t limit a person’s potential, it should expand it.
Real love tells me to let Kim fly and trust that she’ll always come back. I have to let her go so she can chase her dreams, pursue her education, and develop her talents. Additionally, I have to let go of my fears that she might fly away and never come back. If the fish were to clip the bird’s wings, he would risk trimming her dreams and smothering her altogether.
That being said, I wish I could say that I’m perfect at letting my wife fly. But I’m not. In the end, we’re still two very different people. I have some deeply rooted insecurities, and we’ve had to learn to navigate each other’s personalities.
But while I certainly can’t tell you that I’m perfect, I can tell you that every time I’ve encouraged Kim to fly she loves me all the more for supporting her and having the faith to let her go.
So, if you truly love someone, have the faith to “let them go.” Encourage them to be the fullest measure of themselves, and you will be overwhelmed by the love that your spouse returns to you.
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** I am well aware that the fish and the bird comment comes from “Fiddler on the Roof”/”Ever After.” Kim probably heard that line from one of those movies. I’m simply reporting what she said to me in that moment, not trying to credit her with being the original source for saying it.