Some thoughts on MARRIAGE

On my way into work yesterday morning, I caught a snippet on public radio regarding marriage.  Actually, I’ve been hearing a lot about it, and divorce, in the media and in our community.  The message left me feeling sad.  I feel sad because I know the sanctity of marriage is foundational to who we are.  I feel sad because I know everyone is capable of having an authentic, commited, and satisfying marriage.  I feel sad because children are missing out on having two parents at home who love them, and model for them what a healthy family can look like.  The woman interviewed on the radio, in her 20’s, was living with her boyfriend and raising their 2 year old son together.  Why marry?  “It’s just a piece of paper,” she said.  “A piece of paper that makes it VERY expensive to have reversed.”  Wow.  If we all get married with the thought we just may divorce, why get married?  To marry is to make a commitment to someone.  It is to pledge to them that you will carry out your devotion to them.  I pledge…I commit…not, “I pledge to stay devoted to you, but only if you continue to be who I want you to be, or as long as it’s easy, or I don’t have to grow, etc.”  Another woman talked of being engaged when they learned they were pregnant.  They decided not to marry, for whatever reason, I didn’t catch that part.  And soon after the baby was born, they chose to separate.  She said that if they were married, they may not have split up.  Hmmmm.  Did you know that every relationship shifts following the birth of a baby?  Especially after the birth of your first?  Did you know that every relationship goes through stages, and you do in fact, no matter how disappointing, lose the fire that is so unique to the infatuation stage?  But good news…the fire that belongs to the early stages of every relationship, transitions into something much deeper, more lasting, and profoundly more meaningful.  It morphs into a connection that feels safer…you feel more able to be your authentic self in the relationship.  You feel able to reach to your partner for comfort, and to in turn provide it for them.  You learn more about YOU and ways you interact with the world, and with yourself.  You develop your story.  And you share the history.  That can NEVER be recaptured.
I am a Christian, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, have been married for ten years myself, and my parents are still married.  But, I am not so narrow minded to believe that to divorce means you’re going to hell, or that for some reason God loves you less, or that the divorce isn’t the best case scenario for all involved.  Because sometimes it is.  I believe God intended for marriage to last forever, but I believe, he also intended for them to be healthy, for partners to uplift and support one another, and to unconditionally love their mate regardless of how annoying their idiocyncracies may be.  In reality, not all unions are like this.  I believe the absence of any of these characteristics or others, almost negates the sanctity of the meaning of marriage… Sometimes addiction enters in, or has always been there, but has become an undeniable problem.  Sometimes one or both partner(s) is unable or unwilling to take a look at the role they play in their dance together.  Sometimes a refusal to address mental health issues, or simply not knowing they exist, creates chaos that could be lessened…or even eliminated if appropriate interventions were employed..
What makes me feel especially sad is the fact that so many chose to end their marriages because they’ve…”fallen out of love”…”don’t see eye to eye anymore”…gotten into a rut of living parallel lives…have simply forgotten what makes them, and each other, come alive.  Or because they’ve failed to tend to their marriage and feed and water it daily.  Or when they divorce without seeking any sort of professional guidance.  Because I know that: ruts are SURmountable…you CAN learn to rekindle your spark…you CAN learn new “tending” techniques…you CAN be madly in love +10 years into any marriage…you CAN choose to look at your mate with the eyes you once did…you can REcreate your “story.”  I believe marriages that overcome their humps evolve into stronger unions than ever before experienced.  I believe if couples choose to end their marriage, they are likely to experience similar difficulties down the road…UNLESS they tend to their deepest hurts.  I know that children who witness their parents unconditionally love one another are healthier…that those children will experience less difficulty as they navigate the waters of intimate, romantic adult relationships…I know that married partners are physically healthier…and emotionally stronger.
And then there’s the difference between 1–getting and staying married, and 2–staying HAPPILY married….aie, another time…
Here’s a few articles I thought might be interesting to share…
**This link looks the current state of marriages and family health in America.  New research!  New findings .  A lengthy read, but very skim-able, and very interesting.  http://stateofourunions.org/
**This link looks at the relationship of marriage to physical health  http://www.smartmarriages.com/uploaded/Staton.Health.and.Marriage.pdf

**This link/article is written by a wonderful expert in the area of relationships, Harville Hendrix      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/family-and-relationships/the-love-gospel-according-to-harville-hendrix/article1600987/

**This link takes a look at “Marriage and the Power to be Happy,” a blog by another favorite, Steven Stosny  http://www.psychologytoday.com/print/4907

**This article is written by Dr. William Doherty, Professor and Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in the Department of Family Social Science, College of Education and Human Development, at the University of Minnesota.  He writes about the importance of rituals in relationships.                                                                 http://www.smartmarriages.com/intentionalmarriage.html

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