Of marriage

Read this article a friend shared, a while ago. Most of it resonated. How many of our younger selves would have thought the same, looking askance at older couples as having “settled” for a marriage devoid of spontaneous sparks and constant lovey-dovey-ness? But yes, love in marriage

“needs to be tended, like a fire in your heart, by breathing life into a spark over and over.”

It’s not all romantic walks into the sunset. Marriage is hard work. At the same time, it is not all dreariness and “duty”. There is true joy, that springs forth, sometimes when you least expect it, a joy possible only because it is girded by gritty commitment. It is a mix.

Probably a mix of everything you could think of, and then some.

So we put a solid foothold down, somewhere to stand still and look around. The foothold was our commitment to each other, our desire to love the person across the breakfast table.

The question of “one” seemed foolish now and we quickly brushed it aside. We placed that question firmly in a box labeled “myths and lies.” What makes you “the one” is the extent to which your heart belongs with the other person.

I’ve been asked by chaps in their early-20s, how did I know that the hubs was “the one”? To which the wisdom quoted above is the whole truth. You choose prayerfully, and then that person BECOMES the One.

Anyway, I loved this bit of the article too.

We let things go, saw with new eyes, and stood in the other person’s shoes. Most importantly, we stood in our own shoes and examined where we had lost ourselves along the way.

It is easy, isn’t it, in marriage or otherwise, to lose oneself. There are so many competing demands for our mental space in this time and age, that one struggles just to keep up, to function. That is why it becomes all the more crucial to regularly take time out to reflect, to examine, to realise where our steps have been heading. I carve out time to reflect and pray. It grounds me, it helps me realign my compass and map, so to speak. It refreshes my soul, or rather, without regular reflection, I feel dry, parched, brittle, snappy.

But one does not need to be married long (or married at all, come to think of it) to look at certain older couples and know, yes, that is what I want my marriage to grow into. That is the wine to 酿, that is the relationship to aspire to, to build up.

To those whose love I dismissed so easily because it didn’t look fulfilling to the untrained eye, I see you now. I see how you walk through days and years of knowing another person, of letting go of who you thought they were and holding on at the same time to who they are and who they will become.

If you’re going through the motions, I see the art in that. I now know how foolish I was to think the motions were boring and uninspired.

Motion brings movement and life when things have gone dry.

You water the dry ground and something grows that surprises you. You sweep the floors and life flows through a room. You bend over hot skillets, and your children eat the food and become strong. You build your life the way you want it, and spirit comes to breath life into what you’ve made with your labor.

Not that I can cite decades of experience (after all, we’ve only been married for six years – pre-schoolers really, in terms of the marriage journey) but I’d say one of the best things one can do for one’s marriage is to be conscious. Too many marriages fall into disrepair because of carelessness. The slope is slippery. But just by being slightly more aware, one can always sense danger, notice the warning signs. We know not to walk on draincovers during a thunderstorm. It’s the same, isn’t it.

I’ve experienced moments when cold blooded murder doesn’t seem far-fetched at all (haha!) and I’ve come to develop my own take on “not going to bed angry”.

I think there is great virtue in going to bed angry. For us at least, it has worked out better to seethe, and sleep over it (most times we manage to sleep – no issues!) and tackle the issue again after a night’s rest (sore labour’s bath, balm of hurt minds and all that y’know). Most times, the issue shows up clearly for the petty, minor irritation it really was.
Had we tackled this late at night when fury was still raging, it probably would have escalated into full-blown warfare. And its ensuing long-drawn cold war.
At times I do go to bed, more or less livid. But a night’s rest is magic. 
The next day, the reason for the argument is put into its true perspective. And emerges with the light of day, as the minor petty issue it is, and one that’s completely not worth fighting about. Without the smeared lens of weariness, I can focus on the great character attributes of my hubby, and know that all that is worth so much more than the minor annoyances, that were writ so large just hours before.

In all, marriage is a long journey, and we learn so much along the way. Let’s spur one another along in this, and keep our eyes on what truly matters. To this we have been called, and we will be faithful, for He who calls us is faithful.

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