“I don't want to get married on this trip unless we're 100% aligned and clear on what marriage means to us, and we're not aligned right now,” I said to Candace.
I felt nervous, sitting on the hammock chair of our San Francisco apartment. This would be one of the hardest conversations so far in our relationship.
We were only seven days away from leaving for our epic two-week elopement and honeymoon in the jungles of Costa Rica. We’d splurged on business class flights, a gorgeous Airbnb, photographers and videographers, private chefs, masseuses — the works.
And there I was, calling off the wedding with the love of my life. How did it get to this?
“I know with full confidence in my body that I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” I continued.
It was true — I had zero doubt that she was my perfect partner. That only made the conversation harder.
Marriage was sacred, and I knew that I wanted our marriage to be a ceremony of devotion — one where I committed my heart, body, mind, and soul toward loving and adoring this woman.
I wanted to say my vows with openness in my heart and tears in my eyes and to feel fully aligned with every word that came out of my mouth.
And I wanted to trust that my words would land so powerfully that they soaked into every cell of her body.
But with all the tense arguments we’d been having almost every day for the past two weeks, I just couldn't see us getting there right now.
One day we’d fight about our prenup. Another day, we’d argue about whether exchanging vows was sufficient or whether we actually wanted to get legally married around our trip. And yet another, we’d argue about a small detail about our elopement day or the tea ceremony we wanted with my parents.
Even normal day-to-day conversations had somehow become a field of hidden land mines, ready to trigger us in some unexpected moment.
I felt like I was floating on a boat I couldn’t steer, being slammed against rocks by an invisible force I couldn’t see.
“For a guy that moves from alignment 99% of the time, you sure are out of alignment right now, and on one of the biggest decisions of your life,” my dear friend Elenna had reflected to me on the phone the day before.
I had felt lost, stuck, and overwhelmed. And I had reached out because I needed help.
As we had talked, it had become clear that a battle was being waged inside of me.
There was the Romeo part of me, still attached to the romantic fairy tale elopement, hoping and working hard to get into alignment with our dream before we left.
There was the pragmatist part of me that felt it was absurd and silly to call off an elopement — especially given that I knew that we’d eventually get married. Why make it harder for yourself?
And then, there was the wise sage inside me that knew that my friend was right.
Honoring my own integrity and truth was the path that brought me to the freedom and joy I was experiencing in life today.
It was what showed me I could choose my own aliveness and leave my first 17-year-long relationship — so that I could later find the love of my life.
It was what empowered me to break off the golden shackles of an acquired startup — so that I could spend my energy on things aligned with my purpose.
It was what let me know that changing my mind was okay — honoring my present integrity and truth had more honor than abiding by a past decision.
Sometimes, we’re faced with hard choices.
And the choice that’s most aligned with our integrity and our truth might not seem logical. It might not seem pragmatic. It might not be easy.
In those moments, our only true compass in life is honoring our own integrity and alignment.
That compass is the driving force in life telling us that we can trust each step we take and know that we'd be okay with the consequences.
Martha Beck calls it the "shackles test" in Steering By Starlight. Choices that bring us toward our true north feel liberating, almost as if shackles are coming off. Choices that are wrong for us and take us away from our north star create muscle contraction, as if some part of us are being shackled.
Gay and Katie Hendricks describe it as a full-body yes. It’s a feeling of uprising, fountaining, and expansion in the body — in contrast to a no, which creates a sense of contraction and moving away.
And deep down, I knew what a full-body yes felt like.
It felt like the warrior-like confidence I experienced when I first danced up to Candace the second time we met. We had shared a 30-minute dance that was playful, intimate, and sensual, and the world faded away.
It felt like the desire and the leaning in I experienced whenever I truly wanted to do something rather than when I thought should do it, simply because someone expected me to.
It felt like the childlike spontaneity I experienced when I woke up one morning in our treehouse in Costa Rica and decided to spontaneously propose — not even four months into our dating life.
And when I tuned into the idea of getting married in Costa Rica, I felt a murkiness, a slight gripping of my heart, and a constriction in my chest. It wasn’t a full-body yes.
That meant I needed to follow the truth of my heart and find the courage to call it off.
And so I did.
Even after postponing the wedding, it still took a few days for me to find peace.
A part of me kept holding on, hoping that some silver bullet would magically switch me into alignment with our elopement plans, just in time for our trip.
But the pressure I put on myself to switch back into alignment with the wedding only caused more suffering.
We ultimately still decided to take our two-week trip but left the wedding dress, wedding bands, and "We eloped" sign behind. The trip was already paid for, after all.
Instead of eloping, we decided to use our time to create an intentional intimacy retreat — a time to set intentions and commitments around what marriage actually meant to us.
And that turned out to be a more beautiful experience than we could've ever hoped for.
CONTINUE to Part 2...
Thanks to Elenna Mosoff, Henry Kimsey-House, and Candace Sauve for reading early drafts of this post.