A MARRIAGE IS LIKE A LITTLE GARDEN
THAT YOU HAVE TO TEND ALL THE TIME
THAT YOU HAVE TO TEND ALL THE TIME
1) discovery and eye-opener
After the trappings of marriage or its dust has settled down, you begin the journey to discovery. You see things, moments, situations, nuances of character come out to the fore - things you never saw before in courtship. It's like opening a can of Pork and Beans .. seeing the beans alright but surprised to see only one piece of pork. You expected at least several. True to the adage 'what you see is not always what you get'. You get stumped now by habits you thought weren't there or words you never expected to hear from the other. You thought you shared the same preferences but now see that he really likes the color brown instead of the blue t-shirts you always bought for him. That she likes quiet stay-home Saturdays instead of visiting your parents. You'll be hearing 'NOs' instead of the 'YESs' that you've been used to. Now you begin to wonder. But hold your judgment or disappointment.. keep an open mind. Give it more time. Both of you are going through the same stage.
2) presence of conflicts
Conflicts are part and parcel of marriage just like everything else in life. There will always be something for or against you and what you hold dear. After all a long history goes into the making of a person, we know that. It isn't true that marriage banishes conflicts away like magic. Marriage does not have a built-in solution to problems. When a situation arises in which both don't see eye-to-eye with, usually one or the other would be likely to aggressively assert his point of view as the correct one. That may be right .. and too wrong. Right maybe as knowledge and good sense may tell you so, but wrong because you cannot just demand nor dictate attention or acceptance to your own views. World wars and disputes were created by something like that. And that is not the option.
3) give/receive gracefully generously
You'd think that giving is as easy as eating pie. It's not always the case. Especially when doing so causes you some amount of discomfort or reduces you to an uncomfortable level of capacity and resource. Sometimes you are asked to give where it hurts. Negative feelings usually accompany such kind of giving. Giving as is seen in our daily lives is not always motivated by love or affection. Often it is motivated by compromise or convenience, breeding, background, education, genealogy, favors or expectations. So much can be said of receiving too. If doing one or the other makes you or the other person quite uncomfortable - then don't. Give only what is truly felt in the heart. Because that is where authentic giving (and receiving) resides. And remember that this does not apply to the physical and material aspects of a married life alone. It encompasses everything meant to be shared in the spirit of joyful oneness... a shared life.
4) teacher-learner situations
Marriage does not put an end to learning. It simply opens up more doors to it. Understandably, no person has the monopoly on knowledge, information, talent, skills, wisdom, ability, or simple common sense. The other person in the marriage has a fair amount of it too. Perhaps even in good measure. It's not a contest as to who is more intelligent, bright, or smart. It may look that way to some because we, foolish beings, are so good at putting up appearances. But that won't work; can't be fooling everybody all of the time. You'll soon enough get tired putting up that show for their benefit anyway. Get it into your mind that marriage is another branch of school and that you are being tasked to learn (more) new things. A simple way of saying it but likely is its best explanation. So when one or the other comes up with some good lesson, don't cut him or her short or brush it away as your ego would probably dictate you to. But listen well. Whatever learning there is, it deserves your full attention. It does not diminish you but rather increases you as a person... sufficient to put you up very well to the challenges of married life.
5) a certain 'death' to self
When someone says this 'I die a thousand deaths ...' -- that person could be speaking out of the fullness of the heart. What happens in our world is mostly stored in our hearts. Pain, hurt, suffering, bitterness, fear, anger, and too the beautiful feelings of joy, love, hope, trust, care, strength. And so much more. The heart is made full by these. But he must be referring to mainly 'sacrifice'. Marriage provides ample opportunity for sacrifice. In a sense aptly called 'death to self'. A favorite food is passed up so that the other could have his own choice. A second job is taken to add up to the family coffers. Delegating one's personal pleasures, convenience, likes or dislikes, or preferences in favor of the other half is truly like dying to one's self. But we do this in marriage, also in life when the situation asks for it. The difference lies in how do you 'sacrifice'? If you feel obliged to, forget about it. I don't even do that with my dog for whom I stop whatever it is am doing at the computer just to pat her head when she comes to me. It's not an obligation; it's something I want to do. That makes her very happy. Makes us both happy!
6) height of vanity to suppose that you can make an honest man or woman of anyone
Change is something that begins with self. Nobody can change a person unless that person agrees or consents to change. So to embark on a mission of changing an alcoholic spouse or abusive spouse without the help of the right authorities or agencies is pure folly. Don't flatter yourself thinking that love will make the change happen. So much in the same sense that you cannot change a lazy bum, an inveterate liar, two-timer, or an inconsiderate selfish blob or ego queen into a sweet faithful thoughtful person. Would take so much more than your effort to bring that about. People are who they are when they enter the marriage. They come with both their good and their bad unfortunately. Know who you are marrying. Take the time to know before you take the plunge. That will save you a dozen heartaches later. Remember that change happens only when that person agrees to change. Otherwise you'll simply be clutching at fragile straws in the wind.
7) a triangle: man, woman, God
Life is tough and we need all the help we can get to weather its storms. Our efforts or resources are insufficient on its own when the going gets tough and tougher. That's the same in marriage. Problems can be overwhelming at some point leaving us drained weary and exhausted physically emotionally and spiritually. But if we have learned to humbly get down on our knees and pray, God swiftly acts in His great love and mercy to bring comfort and help. God isn't something that's simply relegated to the shelf or altar of our faith and be remembered only when troubles strike. He is bigger than all of that. We do not have a small God. He can do so much more if we let Him. He will guide, protect, heal, counsel, move mountains, and bless tremendously. We can have everything that we might need for a blessed marriage, or life. With Him, through Him. He wants to give, to bless us, to be part of our life. All that we have to do is make God a part of it all. Can that be so hard? He is just waiting to be invited into the marriage, into our home, into our lives. He is waiting to hear you say "Come in, Lord." Make that happen.
God's blessings upon you all.