Sunday, July 1, 2012

Marriage Thoughts

While some people defer or avoid marriage and others demanding recognition for their unions, the occasion of our thirty-third wedding anniversary seemed like a good time to weigh in on the topic. So what have we learned these last 33 years?

Marriage is about a lot things: love, unconditional acceptance, being welcomed home, and building a family. Marriage means sharing milestones: births, graduations, marriages, and ultimately an empty nest. Marriage means supporting each other through difficult times. It means journeying through the illness and loss of family members. Marriage is sharing life with all its joys and sorrows.

So what have we learned about having the best possible marriage?

The first thing, the most important thing is to see the image of God in your spouse. Once you see your spouse  as a unique creation of God, with unique passions and abilities, you learn to appreciate them and the gift of God that they are to you. From that appreciation derives love and respect. It all has to start there.

The second thing is to give one hundred percent.....not fifty percent. There can  be no yellow lines or tape dividing off portions of ones' life from their spouse. Our finances are jointly held as is our home. We accept the fact that we will each be in different states of employment at different times. We split the mundane tasks of housekeeping. If you know your spouse likes a clean house, then take the initiative to keep it that way. Love your spouse's family as if they were your own.....they are now

The third thing is to give your spouse is trust. We both have access to each others' bank accounts. While we don't routinely snoop on each others' computers and phones, I have no problem asking my spouse to look something up on my phone or e-mail.

The fourth thing is to give your spouse is space. Encourage and empower your spouse to pursue their goals and dreams. Encourage and support their individual relationships. You cannot be a support for everything they are going through and will go through. Be wise enough to know your limits.

The fifth thing is to be united against divisive forces. Argue in private, but be united in public. Never let anyone, friend or family, sow a seed of discord between you.  The bottom line has to be, "Don't make me choose between my spouse and you because if you force the issue, you will lose."

The sixth thing is to is challenge each other. Through each other we become acquainted with ourselves. We need encouragement to become our better selves. Instead of playing off each others' weaknesses and mutually enabling stagnation, we need to build each others' strengths and encourage growth in every area of life.

The seventh thing is to see marriage as a journey through life that you take together with another person. We have to see our life and our lives together as a journey with a purpose. The problem is most of the time we don't know what that purpose is. It does not even occur to us that as individuals or as a married couple that we even have a purpose. Perhaps it is better to redefine "purpose" as "meaning." Viktor Frankl said, "our meaning in life is found as we help others find their meaning in life.

Finally, love each other. It may seem obvious, but what does does it mean...."love each other?" St. Paul tells us: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."