Marriage is a Spiritual Commitment


I recently went to my grandpa's 90th birthday. My grandma turns 90 in six months.  They've been married for almost 70 years, and are still as cute and committed as ever. I'm guessing that "opportunities" to upgrade (in relationships) decline with each successive year; I'm reminded by this fact that I almost never get looks from the ladies unless they are cougar-ish, desperate, or emotionally inebriated.  

That being said, I'm happy to be married almost daily. My wife is so much better than I am in the character department. That doesn't mean marriage is easy. Like anything that ages, we as humans are tempted to move on to something newer and different and better and flashier and trendier all the time. It's probably worse with Americans (who are bombarded with upgrade offers all the time) than people in other areas of the world; yet even in Pearl Buck's novel about China from 1931, The Good Earth; the main character Wang Lung is driven to upgrade all facets of his impoverished life, including his wife, and ends up rich but miserable in the end. It might be a cautionary tale, but it is also one that rings true to many of us married folk.  

I'm 34, and feel too young for the few divorces that have gone down in my inner circle.  As my friend Justin recently said, "Part of me is happy when I hear {divorce} news because it means, statistically speaking, that my marriage is more likely to succeed." He's being facetious, many of us have taken our friends divorces like a stake to the heart. I'm not saying we are vampires, but sometimes a divorce means a sacrifice of a friendship. Often we are forced to divvy up the partners like a custody battle. It's ugly.  

So ugly, my wife and I refuse to use the "D" word. I'm not saying we live in La-La Land and refuse to confront reality; we just don't have an escape plan. If you know me from my blog, I have an escape plan for everything. I prepare for disaster in almost all circumstances. Recently, at the Oregon coast with my family, and I made sure we could make it to a high hillside in case of a tsunami. It's most likely a disorder...and yet, in my marriage, their are no outs, no plan Bs, no golden parachutes. If this ship goes down, we go down together (and no, that is not a murder-suicide pact you pessimists).  

At my grandpa's party, he was asked to give a speech. He looked around, and in his customary soft-spoken way, said, "I worry about your marriages. Pat (my grandma) and I pray everyday for our family. It's important to pray, together. I know you're not all believers, but it is important to pray together."  He went on to explain that they had seven children together and on each day of the week they pray for one of their kids and subsequent grandkids. In a huge Catholic family, where many of the grandkids are atheists, activists, and anarchists (in other words, non-Christian), it was an enlightening moment.  Many of us, myself included, have not made spirituality the bedrock it should be in a marriage.  

Earlier, I mentioned that my wife (like my own mother) is the character foundation of our family.  Both these women can sense when tribulations or lulls or depressions or attacks are on the horizon. Both these women get an Esther-like sense of loyalty to their families, that will lash out with vengeance when anyone is threatened by non-familial enemies. Both my wife and my mother are the spiritual capstones of harmony in their families.  

Yet there are times when I don't understand my wife's love languages (if you like that psycho-babble), and there are times when my own ego/pride wants some glorified version of marriage/love that includes lots of unlikely sex and laughing at ALL my jokes...but reality is, my Esther wife, my real wife, is more perfect than any of my silly fantasies growing up or even now. My wife has and will go to battle for me any day of the week, and that kind of loyalty, that kind of commitment, is what is lacking in so many marriages.  

Love changes over time. Kids, finances, looks, bodies, stresses, temptations, possessions, all change the honeymoon stage into the reality stage. It's been ten years my wife and I have been married, and we've seen a lot of reality and will see many more changes along the way. It's not always easy. There are times the thoughts of greener pastures have crept into both our lives. We both thought we would be more financially stable in our mid-thirties, and yet, this journey, this strange voyage of selflessness and partnership has made me more stable than I ever thought possible.  

The 1969 "Miracle" Mets
World Series Champions.  
So I ask you, even if you don't believe in a God, to pray for your marriage. Pray for my marriage, and I'll pray for yours. Life is hard, the tribulations difficult, the finances stressful. We all deserve a partner who is invested in our lives not because of some carnal or psychological needs, but because of a desire to be a great team. And some of the greatest teams ever assembled needed a little divine intervention.  


12 comments:

  1. I've been married for 37 years and we always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

    Henny Youngman

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    1. My girl can shop with the best of 'em. Good reason to hold her hand.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. A wonderful post with great wisdom. :-)

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  4. thanks Chris, for including me in this post! I do exist! Oh, wait, it's not about me...never mind. Good post.

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  5. I agree, wholeheartedly. Marriage is hard, but I never think of an escape hatch as an option. Because of this, I constantly work to make our relationship strong, because I know stagnancy and un-appreciativeness is the real marriage killer.
    Congratulations on ten years. :) Mike and I have only been married for about two years, but we have been together for twelve years, so I know what a long time a decade can be - it's quite a feat.

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  6. Instead I am interested in exploring spiritual commitment. I am quite clear in my own mind that commitment is the glue of the spiritual relationship with the Holy One. Commitment is relational. Commitment is connecting---it connects me to someone or something. There are two basic steps in commitment. One “makes” a commitment. Making a commitment entails saying “yes” to someone or something (one can be committed to a principle, for example). Secondly, having made a commitment, one “keeps” the commitment. Keeping a commitment is the duration over time of the relationship which was made.
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