Saturday, September 22, 2012

Miss Right

I put my wild horses pictures on this post first, just so you know where I'm coming from. 

I want to talk about marriage.  You know, because I’m so qualified to do that.  I was a pioneer in my own marriage…riding that wagon through a lot of wild, dangerous, and quiet terrain before I had to bury my partner on the prairie and continue alone. No one escaped unscathed. I am no expert. But I get asked to help with marriages, to give some solace or advice, to offer help or hope, and I want to talk about marriage for a minute. 

Our media is inundated with stories of weddings, but there are very few reports, shows,  or specials that capture the realism of marriage.  Weddings are the sitcom of our time;  marriages are the documentary. Weddings get Emmy’s.  Marriages get Oscar’s. Marriage begins with the pursuit of passion and perfection, but few folks succeed at keeping their eyes on the prize. It’s a privilege and a challenge to be asked to define and refine the difficulties of marriage when I felt so unsuccessful at it.  It’s a tough pursuit for any one of us.  But together, it can be done and done well.

Husband and Wife.
Mr. and Mrs.
His and Hers.
Me becomes We.

Most of us do believe in marriage, eventually.  

Finding that one person you want to revere and annoy for as long as you both shall live isn’t easy. Lancelot found his Guinevere.  Henry found his Eleanor. Petrarch found his Laura. Even Geoffrey Chaucer found his Pippa. Such couples have much to teach us about making love last a lifetime.  If Elizabeth Browning could deliver her sonnets to Robert after the wedding as well as before, and if Tristan could behold Isolde and treasure her heart when they were old and grey, surely today’s couples stand a chance.  A lot of famous couples in history tell us that it can be done.  I agree.  It can be done and done well.  It’s a matter of keeping focused on the prize…the long haul.  It’s a matter of staying true to what you’re doing right, right now, and repeating that process day after day, week after week, year after year.  The ceremony was the fun part; the pomp and circumstance. Staying the course, after the party’s over, that’s the hard stuff.  But worth it…so worth it.

When God invented marriage, he was quite optimistic. The secret of a happy marriage is still, in 2012, a secret. I love to meet couples who’re celebrating 10 years of marriage, or 25, or 53.   They have a lot to teach us. Nuptials nail your promise to paper, bearing witness to what you’ve agreed to give one another.  Living together without marriage vows is just not the same.  When I talk to husbands or wives who’ve met the next benchmark, I hear them repeat the mantra:  Stay the course. Don’t quit.  Don’t give up. 

Here are a few recommendations that will help you on your way.  

  • In marriage, you will find your home in each other’s arms-- always go home.

  • You will find your hunger satisfied at your own dinner table—don’t settle for the drive-thru. A real meal takes time to prepare and enjoy. You’ll get better at it.

  • You’re not passengers in a wedding limo.  In marriage you’re in the front seat;  sometimes the pilot and other times the copilot.  It’s a global trip.  But there’s a map.  It’s called the Bible.  And it will never lead you astray.  When you lose your way, Jesus is still your GPS.

  • You will never quench your thirst in wine or spirits—drink from the same well of living water.

  • You don’t have an adoring public like Kate and William. You have a relatively small group of well-wishers.  Seek accountability in the eyes of God, not in the eyes of the world.

  • You’re not in a marriage to get happy; you’re there to give happiness to your partner and the family you’ve created.  Don’t look for what you can get out of marriage;  look for what you can give.

  • Marriage is a union of body, mind, and spirit. Don’t neglect or disrespect the body, mind, or spirit of your spouse. A headache every night turns into a loveless marriage and someone who is starving will become discouraged, disheartened, angry, or apathetic.  No one needs sex.  We all need intimacy.  There's a difference. 

  • You will fight and argue; fight fair and fight clean. If you shame or humiliate your partner, you are reducing who you profess to be and you will not be trusted. Remember that the root of every argument is self-protection.  Ergo, ego.

  • Marriage is quantum physics:  One plus one equals two that become one.

  • At the end of the day, forgive the slights.   In the real scheme of things, they don’t add up to a pile of beans.

Whoever said marriage was impossible never tried to nail pudding to a tree.

You can do it. Together.