04 September 2010

On Marriage: A Letter to the Kids

Dearest Darling Children of Mine:

I am really not in such a position to be going on and on about marriage - having completed a measly 4.4 or so years of it. But, it is very much a part of our everyday lives, and if we only talk about feeding and educating, we have left out a major part of life around here: loving.

So, please go ahead and forgive this particular instance of naiveté inherit to a lack of experience in any area. And know that I reserve the right to edit the following advice after another 4.4 or 44.4.
Although, I don't think I will.

before I go on, know that there are certainly non-traditional families- single folks, single parents, etc. - who are living lives that are amazingly magnetic and often for all the right reasons. These people exist (Jesus, Apostle Paul, John Stott, various of your godparents), and we should be very, very careful not to make traditional families an idol. It will result in us marginalizing and disrespecting the non-traditional.

But...the fact of the matter is that the norm is for people to grow up, get married, and have babies. You, children of mine, will probably do this. Maybe not, and that will be a-okay, but...probably.

Family life does not work unless the marriage relationship is central. Look around you. Find a family that you want to emulate.

Now look closely.

That family has, as its central being, the theme of its familial narrative, a marriage. A marriage that supersedes all else. Supersedes work, friends and even children. Especially children.

The marriage is first.

This is kind of easy in the beginning. You are in love. And naked a lot, which helps your priorities stay in order.

And then you have jobs or babies or quarter-life crises (or many times all three) and your lines aren't quite so clear anymore.

I don't mean to depress you, darlings, but, well, it happens.

As you (probably) head into this world of marriage one day, your father and I have two pieces of advice for you. Take them with the giant grains of salt you should take all our advice, but, take them still.

1) Marry someone you like.
2) Grow up and behave.

From whence do these two pieces of advice come? Well, what is your end in marriage? Your end in everything is glorifying our Creator and enjoying all with which he blesses us, right? Remember that catechism?

These two pieces of advice come from that - how can we best glorify God and enjoy his blessings in the particular institution of marriage?

Oh, darling children, marry someone you like. It seems so simple, and yet...

This means someone with whom you like to be. Someone who, when fully clothed, engages with you in something enjoyable. It could be that you love just being quiet together, or it could be that you make each other laugh. For Daddy and me, it is a whole host of things - we both love words, debates, laughter, fermented things, books, friends, you little people.
He's my very favorite date - whether that be out to dinner or to my couch. And, if I may be so presumptuous, I am his favorite. Absolute favorite.

Things that do not mean the same as like, but are often fuddled and muddled around with like and result in folks marrying folks they don't actually like:

Sometimes Robby marries Susie because Susie learned from Mama that Robby won't buy the cow if he can get the milk for free. And Susie actually put this into practice. Robby doesn't marry Susie because he likes her - he marries her because he wants her and marriage is a means to that end.

And Susie marries Robby, because, well, Mama made her feel like she's a cow up for purchase.

But seriously, Susie marries Robby because she wants to plan a wedding and he'll look good in a tux; because all her friends are getting married and she has a fear of being an old maid; because her biological clock is ticking; because she doesn't really want to get a real job; because, maybe, Robby won't give her the milk for free either.

Robby could also marry Susie because his mom won't leave him alone about getting married and Susie looks like the path of least resistance; because she did sleep with him and now he feels obligated; because Susie won't shut the hell up about Sally's wedding and Robby would sincerely rather marry her than listen to her one more minute; because she looks like she'd probably make a good mom.

Ad infinitum.

But, the point is, Susie and Robby don't always marry because they like each other.

Now.... Please don't get me wrong. This is not a 'soul mate' argument or a 'true love' argument -

You know me well enough to know I'd bull butter all of that. All I'm saying is this: You, dearhearts, are each going to spend the rest of your life with the same individual person, we pray. Wouldn't you rather not be bored...or much worse?

Trust me - if you like the person you marry, when you set about actually loving them, it will make life a lot easier.

Which brings us to point number 2.

Grow up and Behave!

This is the business of loving.

(Please do not have First Corinthians 13 read at your wedding. I mean, perhaps by the time you wed, I'll be ready to hear it again, but I'm not holding my breath.)

But, whether you have it read or not, think about the following applications:

Love is patient: When she tries on the 11th pair of shoes, that's when love is patient. When he asks for the 17th time this week where his own child's pajamas are kept, that's when love is patient.

Love is kind: When he has someone at work breathing down his throat, love rubs shoulders and asks if there is anything she can do. When she burns the bread for the 7th time this week, love laughs in kindness. (And yes, ask your father or godfather Jacob - I used to have a serious bread burning problem.)

Love does not envy: When he gets a day off from work and she feels as though she never does, love does not envy. When he feels she doesn't have to get up and go to a 'real job' each day, love does not envy.

Love does not boast: Flip this one around - boast of your spouse. Try it. Brag on one another. It'll feel so good.

Love is not rude: When he comes in late after guys night out and she's asleep, love is quiet. When he comes in late after guys night out and she's asleep, she's left a lamp on. Also, she doesn't text him all night, thus ruining his guys night out.

Love is not self-seeking: When she wants to go to mexican food, and he wants chinese, well, good luck with that one.

Love always trusts: Just think on that.

Love does not keep a record of wrongs! We could save a million marriages this year if we would all obey this one command. Seriously - no record of wrongs. Seriously. Wipe the slate clean. Every morning.

It sounds impossible, because, well, it's really, really hard. But it's what we're commanded to do. And, it's the only thing that really, truly works. So do it.

And remember, doing all these impossible things will be easier if, say, the person you are required to love is someone you actually like.

Eat together.
Sleep together (both actively and passively).
Banish the children.
Read to the children together.
Buy presents for one another.
Hold hands.
Make out.
Toast one another.
Rub one another's feet. And backs.
Hang out with old, married folks.
Write to one another.
Surround yourself with people who you both like.
Celebrate anniversaries with a vengeance.
Go to weddings together.

Worship together.

And know that, while you three are the three most precious things in our life, Daddy and I love each other first. Always.

Our love,

1 comment:

  1. This will be a special letter to them! I am happy that you are happy! In Christ,cq