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Kristin Armstrong Celebrates Her Engagement with Message of Hope

“You don’t have to be perfect to be loved — loving and being loved is what perfects us.”

Colorful illustration of girl holding books
Illustration by Anna Kamburis
Portrait by Laura Doss

Whether it’s a film, a novel or a Netflix binge, we love to entertain ourselves with a good story. It can be a reprieve from pain or monotony to immerse ourselves in a story about someone else.

As a writer and author, I deeply love a good story. I like a protagonist that captures my heart, that has just enough messiness or edge to feel real — someone I want to root for. I love a plot with a solid arc, that builds in depth or intensity. There needs to be some conflict sprinkled in, either interpersonal or intra. There needs to be a challenge, something that causes the lead character to rise, to be brave, to transcend, to go beyond themselves. If the story is fiction, it needs to be so believable that I fall all the way in. If the story is nonfiction, it needs to be as well-crafted as good fiction, so it awakens and includes my imagination.

MORE: Kristin Armstrong on Quieting Your Inner Critic

And since love is at the core of courage (cœur is French for heart) and the thing that carries us beyond ourselves, there has to be love. I have said it before and I will say it many times again:

A life story without a love story is no story at all.

Twenty years of wondering disappeared into the waves.

My love of story is probably part of why I love my work with clients so much. I love learning their stories, the plotlines and plot twists, all the supporting characters, the conflicts, the suffering and sorrows, and the healing, redemption and triumphs. I get the honor of listening to stories of the past, as well as helping to craft the meaning of the present story, and how that impacts the future. After all, the way we tell our story becomes our story. I have always known that words matter; it’s just in recent years that I realize how much.

I love the tension between the questions: Am I settling or do I just want too much? Or perhaps better said, Is this enough, or am I worthy or capable of more?

These questions arise from desire — from wanting more out of life, out of work, out of relationships, out of family, out of romance, out of ourselves.

MORE: Kristin Armstrong Found Love by Getting Out of Her Own Way

I lived in that tension between those questions for many years. Over time, I felt peace and presence and satisfaction in every area of my life, except for one — my love life. When I was alone, I wanted a partner. When I had a partner, I had a vague sense that I was settling, playing small. It always felt off, like I was either trying too hard, not trying hard enough, wanting too much, or pretending to be satisfied with too little. It’s an interesting conundrum to be a capable, independent woman who can take care of herself, her people and her business, and not feel compelled to shrink in order to feel taken care of sometimes. It takes a partner with a large heart and an open mind to step into a fully expressed life and expand it and share it.

A message for longing lovers of all ages; listen carefully:

You don’t want too much — if what you want you are also willing to bring.
You don’t have to be perfect to be loved — loving and being loved is what perfects us.
If you feel like you are settling, you probably are.
If you are settling, don’t shrink in the vain attempt to make it enough.
It isn’t.
You are not too much. You are not too little. You are wonderfully enough.
If you want more, offer more and see if you are met with willingness and reciprocity.
If you are not met, keep rising anyway, and what doesn’t match will fall away.
What is meant for you is yours. Trust this.

It’s 2023 and I have been divorced for twenty years. (If someone told me back in 2003 I would wait 20 years to find my person, I would have punched them, FYI.) I raised my children, expanded my education, built my career, cultivated and authenticated my Self and feathered a beautiful nest. On the first day of this new year, the love of my life dropped to his knees on the sand of our favorite beach and asked me to be his wife.


Tribeza columnist, author and counselor Kristin Armstrong.

I’d love to say I had the perfect words in that moment, but this word girl had none. I was speechless, crying and laughing at the same time (possibly the best feeling ever). I fell to my knees beside Mark, collapsing under the awesome weight of our joy.

Twenty years of wondering disappeared into the waves.

The new year sun sparkled across the ocean, so bright I had to close my eyes. We finally stood, his arms around me, breathing it all in. When we were ready to leave that moment and consider the next, we turned and walked into the rest of our lives.

MORE: Relationship Coach Ashley Kelsch Examines Hallmark’s Role in Romance