We wondered if we should post this piece today after yesterday’s excellent essay from the perspective of a single woman. But this piece is a tribute to commitment in an age where it is often mocked. So yesterday was to celebrate being single and today we will defend marriage.
In Defense of Married Love by Robynn
These are the days of relational erosion. Marriage is mocked. Intimacy is insecure and therefore superficial. Few risk authentic openness. Vulnerability is protected against. Sex is cheap and misunderstood.
Sensitivity to the lonely and the wounded has kept us largely silent on the subject of marriage. Recent controversies surrounding the definition of the terms have meant that we are almost embarrassed of marriage. If you openly admit you love your husband you can almost hear eyebrows rise. If you talk about marriages that endure, marriages that have meaning, you can feel the collective eyes begin to roll. If your married sex is not only satisfying but sizzling everyone just assumes you are making stuff up!
I want to stand up in defense of marriage….good marriage.
Marriage is intended to bring stability. It brings equilibrium. There is a particular reassurance in the predictability of marriage. I know this man. He knows me. The rhythms of life are steadied by a relationship that remains.
Marriage is holy. It involves vows and promises. It also includes mystery and meaning. We have now essentially entered into a monastic community of two. We take vows of chastity, occasionally of poverty, and charity. It is a sacred institution that we have formed and entered into together.
There is comfort in a good marriage. Marriage is comfortable… Like yoga pants after a long day of zipped up denim! There is exhale, and the space to sigh. There is a place to relax. To be yourself. To learn who that even is.
A healthy marriage frames up a safe space for ongoing relational discoveries –like mining for ever-interesting treasures. Spouses change. People grow, evolve, discover themselves along the way. Being married means a constant story of discovery. There is never a dull moment when two individuals with diverse and varying interests openly engage one another and invite each other into those new places.
Married love has the capacity to redeem the sore spots of loves lost. Married love metaphors grace and undeserved kindness. Married love communicates deep acceptance. The virtues of love have a stage to act on in marriage. We can try on patience, and kindness. We can learn what it means to keep no record of wrongs. We can learn forgiveness as a second language as we are immersed in the language of marriage.
A good marriage provides a safe place for personal transformation, as two people connect honestly with one another in community. I have converted so many times to Lowell’s convictions. He has converted to mine. We’ve adjusted. We’ve adapted. And we’ve given each other the space to do the same.
It takes work and energetic ambition to make a working marriage. We are hard wired for community…. But everything in us wants to pull away when we are tired or terrified. We are tempted to isolation. We shut down. When marriage hurts us we shy away. Attempts to control the other are hurtful and damaging. Marriage requires selfless commitment to think of the other. It mandates a pledge that promises to resist the dark call to pull away and instead a promise to intentionally turn to one another even in the midst of great sorrow or shame or pain.
We depend on our Holy Helper. We have plenty of sex! We try to get good sleep. We eat healthy meals. We tell each other we love each other often—several times a day. We try to be kind to each other. We talk a lot. For us, this has resulted in a sure and successful union.
The media has done its best, in connection with jewelry stores, chocolate factories, greeting card makers and florists to convince us that Valentine’s Day is all about one time romances! The truth of the matter is that St. Valentine died in defense of marriage. Perhaps it’s time again to stand up and defend marriage. You can look at me strange.
You can shake your head at my naiveté… but I am taking a stand in defense of my marriage and married love.
Twenty years ago this month Lowell asked me to marry him! Happy St. Valentine’s Day sweet Lowell! Marrying you was the most interesting, joyful, consoling, principled and passionate thing I have ever done! It’s true, I love being married to you.
Every Friday Robynn writes for Communicating Across Boundaries. You can find all her posts here.