Monday, December 16, 2013

CP 231 Of Marriage and Bad Mathematics

CP 231 Of Marriage and Bad Mathematics
Hi people, I was the celebrant at a wedding yesterday which was touched by an indefinable and uninterrupted joy. Sometimes it happens like that. And always, when it happens, folk come and talk to me about marriage and life. Conversations go beyond the shallow and bland ‘good chemistry’, as important as that is. People want to talk about ‘what-they-have-learnt’, not from books but from life. One of the themes at yesterday’s conversations was that one way of understanding marriage is as a shared bank account, into which both husband and wife can make deposits, and from which they can withdraw. In the ordinary course of events it is not a bad image.
I’ll add a proviso. It is lovely and good to have a sense of ‘shared input’ and ‘putting-up-with’. However it had better not become a scenario of ‘marriage is a 50/50 proposition’. Marriages won’t survive that sort of mathematics. There will be seasons, sometimes prolonged, when it will seem to be 100% one way, because half of the couple simply needs to be carried… and Cross-love will do that! At other times there will be no way one partner can make up a deficit, and forgiveness of debt will be the only option. This week’s snippet picks up a lot of this thinking.

Thinking about marriage 3.  
This comes from a Wedding Homily by Father William Bausch.

“But if it is important to become a good chemist to make the marriage work, it is equally important to become a bad mathematician.  First, you don’t keep score, because scorekeeping leads to balancing out rights which leads to victims instead of partners.  Second, in marriage each partner must be willing to put in more than they take out, a hard truth for those raised only on rights and victimhood.  Marriage is not a fifty/fifty proposition.  Each person has to do a little more than what he thinks his share is.

Lasting marriages, it is obvious, are not fifty/fifty, tit-for-tat propositions.  In another survey of 351 couples married for over fifteen years, the ones who were happiest claimed, “You have to be willing to put in more than you take out”.  Sometimes one member of the couple needs to give ninety percent while the other gives only ten percent, as in a serious illness, job loss, death in the family.  A lasting marriage is one in which each partner looks out for number two, not where each one is looking out for number one.

On the other hand, mathematics has its place in a marriage, because you have to be careful of withdrawals and deposits.  That is to say, every argument, every instance of uncaring is a withdrawal from the common love account.  To be happy, a couple must frequently make deposits of daily gestures of kindness and caring to balance the account.

Rabbi Abraham Herschel was once asked by a reporter: “What message do you have for young people?”  Herschel replied, “Let them remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity.  Let them be sure that every deed counts, that every word has power, and that we all can do our share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and all frustrations and all disappointments.  And above all, let them remember… to build a life as it if were a work of art”.  That goes for marriage, too.”

Happy depositing.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

CP 230 The wedding and the marriage...

CP 230 The wedding and the marriage…
Hi people… this is the second of the snippets on marriage which I have collected as discussion starters over the years. It comes from the pen of Eugene Peterson, in a book called “The quest for life at its best.” Any of this man’s writing is worth a read. In the piece I’m quoting today he wants to cut through the trivialities to get his ‘guests’ chewing something with gutsy challenge. Having worked with more than a few couples who have embarked on that admirable and noble journey together I can tell you it isn’t always a done deal that they want to focus on the long view. Anyway, read it for your own sake. The italics are mine.
(And again, if you have any snippets on marriage I’d welcome you sending them to me for inclusion.)

Thinking about marriage (2)
A Lifelong Career
When I talk with people who come to me in preparation for marriage I often say, “Weddings are easy; marriages are difficult”. The couple want to plan a wedding; I want to plan a marriage. They want to know where the bridesmaids will stand; I want to develop a plan for forgiveness. They want to discuss the music of the wedding; I want to talk about the emotions of the marriage. I can do a wedding in twenty minutes with my eyes shut; a marriage takes year after year after year of alert, wide-eyed attention.

Weddings are important. They are beautiful; they are impressive; they are emotional; sometimes they are expensive. We weep at weddings and we laugh at weddings. We take care to be at the right place at the right time and say the right words. Where people stand is important. The way people dress is significant. Every detail – this flower, that candle – is memorable. All the same, weddings are easy.

But marriages are complex and difficult. In marriage we work out, in every detail of life, the promises and commitments spoken at the wedding. In marriage we develop the long and rich life of faithful love that the wedding announces. The event of the wedding without the life of marriage doesn’t amount to much. It hardly matters if the man and woman dress up in their wedding clothes and re-enact the ceremony every anniversary and say, “I’m married, I’m married, I’m married,” if there is no daily love shared, if there is no continuing tenderness, no attentive listening, no inventive giving, no creative blessing.
                                                                         From “The quest for life at its best”
Eugene Peterson  P. 68

Thanks, and the Lord bless you.
Pastor Fred

Thursday, December 05, 2013

CP 229 Of marriage and love...

CP 229 Of marriage and love…
Over the years I’ve collected lots of little snippets about marriage which get used as discussion starters when couples come to talk about wedding plans. Over the summer I’ll share them with you and so save myself from undue stress during the silly season. Each snippet comes under a general heading of ‘Thinking about marriage’. Today’s item was penned by an American Pastor named William Willimon. The old song reckons, “Love and marriage… go together like a horse and carriage…” Pastor  Willimon sees it rather in reverse. Read on… (The italics are mine.)

Marriage and love
“One of the things that most of us learn in marriage is that love – real, deep, abiding love – is the result of marriage rather than its cause. Strange but true. A couple standing before God and the church at their wedding, may think that love is the reason for their wedding. They are here, in the church, having a wedding, because they are in love.
But one of the wonders of marriage is that, in making and keeping the promise to love one another – for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part – your love deepens, you become more in love than you were when you began keeping the promises of marriage. You’ve heard married couples note this when they say, “We didn’t know a thing about real love when we got married. We were young and silly.  But over the years, we’ve learned what real love is.” Through the thick and the thin of marriage, in the struggle to be faithful, love has been the gift of their fidelity. Thus the church, at a wedding, does not ask, “John, do you love Susan?” but rather, “John, will you love Susan,” speaking of love in the future tense. 
One thing that most of us discover in marriage is that the more you work at keeping the promises, the more faithfully you hold to what you promised to do, the less you have to consciously keep those promises. Fidelity just becomes part of you. You become a faithful person through your faithfulness. And thus Jesus speaks of love.                        (From William Willimon, Pulpit Resource May 1, 2005.)