The goal of our life is… to bring more love and truth into the world. We marry to assist each other in this process.
A dear friend of mine said on the eve of his oldest daughter’s thirteenth birthday, “Today is my last day to be an expert on adolescents!” I giggled when I heard him say this, thinking of the myriad of times I have had to learn this lesson. It is so easy to think we know something before we are knee deep in the complexity of what it is REALLY LIKE! That is certainly true of marriage. The onlookers view of marriage and what pulls us into its gravity are only a painter’s brushstroke on the landscape of the actual nitty-gritty day to day of wedded life. The descriptor is hardly the same as the lived heartbeat.
People get pulled into partnership through the disguise of a person they cannot live without. A person who initially reminds them in countless delicious ways of their inestimable value, talent, humor and creativity. A person who for a time, invites only the best in them. But in time, as our uniqueness to each other gives way to familiarity and life’s demands bring forth our frustration and discouragement, we begin to reveal our cracks, our places of fear and insecurity. This often invites us to act toward our partners in less than generous and loving ways. If our partner is not already in their own cycle of frustration and discouragement, fear and insecurity, our new behavior toward them, usually takes them there. Their response to us is one of defensiveness and criticism, anger and withdrawal. We begin a cycle of relating which does not bring out the best in each other and does not give each other the benefit of the doubt. Instead, it inadvertently reinforces our insecurities and deepest fears – that we aren’t lovable or valuable after all … and our partner knows it and is on the verge of rejecting us.
So if marriage is not the stage of a never ending play of happiness and delight, what is the larger purpose in marriage? If this pattern of challenges in relating is inevitable, how do we rise above it? Transcend it?