Marriages aren't made in heaven but are chiseled out here on earth every day
By Katie Funk Wiebe
This fall my extended family celebrated two weddings and three babies. Such events are heart-warming. They tell me that the next generation is willing to try again where my generation may possibly have missed the mark. Each wedding, each baby, is a symbol of hope that something good is going to happen.
These kindergartners at marriage and family begin with tons more information than I and my generation had when we started out. We had little more than a bed, a stove, a few dishes and some odds and ends of knowledge aboutwhat it took to make a marriage work. We thought love alone would be enough. Sometimes it was; sometimes it wasn’t.
I agree with Kathleen Norris in Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life that commitment always costs. “There is a particular burden in loving another person…. This is the love demanded of any husband, wife, or parent.”
It is easy to fall in love, in fact to stay in love, when someone else does the cooking and cleaning after a night of dining andyou only have to clean up after yourself. As Norris writes, it is hard to tolerate, much less love, the person who shares kitchen, bath and bed. And maybe hogs more than half when, as in my case, when your spouse is a good foot taller and the bed a good foot shorter than today.
I don’t think marriages are made in heaven. They’re chiseled out here on earth, day after day, meal by meal, baby by baby, laundry hamper by laundry hamper.
There will be days when you are taken to the depths of despair and wonder why you ever agreed to this strange arrangement. But also moments when you wish you could do this forever and forever. As Norris writes, “As love takes us on a harrowing journey, even to hell and back, we may find the path arduous but remain convinced that it is the only one worth taking.”
A young person in the heady moments of passion doesn’t reckon on the fact that married life will become a series of repetitive activities with occasional high moments. What I remember most about my 15-year marriage are not the times of great physical intimacy but the tender moments together at the end of the day drinking a cup of tea and sharing what life had been.
Norris cites a study that embracing one’s spouse at the beginning and end of each day produces good and stable marriages. Even a little peck on the cheek was enough. That small action was the only one that made a consistent difference.I agree that is important. My husband always kissed me before he left for the day. We also found that praying together each eveninghelped. It is hard to pray when you are angry. Prayer then becomes a sham.
Two weddings, three babies. I rejoice with each couple. These are important new beginnings. Go for it.
Former Christian Leader columnist Katie Funk Wiebe, of Wichita, Kan., is the author of a dozen books and numerous articles and is still on a limited speaking circuit in her 80s. This essay is from her blog, Second Thoughts (http://kfwiebe.blogspot.com), which is about life as an octogenarian and is reprinted with permission.