03 December, 2007

Marriage: Keeping it Fresh...

Please note the title was not "Marriage: Getting Fresh" (get your minds out of the gutter)...and I do not intend to make any cute analogies to the best practices for keeping lettuce crispy (although, come to think of it, that would be an interesting post...I'll get back to you on that...)

No, this post is just more of a thought out loud. I often look at the marriages I admire and wonder how, after 20, 30, or 40 years of marriage, they have stayed so in love with one another. I am not saying that I don't believe in it because I believe it in wholeheartedly. I just want to know how!

I heard someone say recently about a couple with a long-standing marriage, "Oh they are just so cute! I would walk into her room [she had experienced an early stroke and was in a nursing home] and he would be holding her hand and they would be doting on one another. They just couldn't seem to keep their hands off one another."

I was moved by the recollection until she said with a laugh, "My husband and I stopped doing that 10 years ago!"

Sad!!! How does that happen?
More importantly, how doesn't it happen? What keeps those other marriages "fresh" like the newlywed years?

I hate it when men and women say to Kevin or me, "Oh, you two are still honeymooning! Isn't that sweet..." or "Aw, your first holiday together. Isn't that nice?"

Don't patronize me. I mean, they are not intending to, but I am also not intending for our honeymoon years to end. Sure, we will both change and the reasons we love each other will grow, but the reasons we got married won't. We got married because we believe that God brought us together as companions. We want to be with one another, care for one another, and raise a family together.

I think those couples who still dote on one another after 20, 30, or 40 years have figured out one thing. Love isn't about an emotional connection. If love is just about an emotional connection, it will fade because feelings and emotions are human and humans are flawed.

In my mind, Love (capital "L" versus lowercase, "I love these shoes!") must be an ongoing sacred experience. Love is our limited opportunity on earth to partake in the companionship of God. If Love is about the continual partaking in the companionship of God, it is divine and it can never end. No human struggle can drown Love. If for 40 years, amidst the joys and sorrows of family life and financial planning, you see or learn to see your marriage as partaking in the companionship of God how could you do anything but dote upon the companion God has given you?

The catch in this explanation of the "doting" phenomenon is that each person must choose to see Love in this way. Seeing Love as the the partaking in the companionship of God is not something you understand and assent to once for all time. It is a daily and sometimes hourly commitment.

So in the end I guess my mom was right. Her simple answer was, "Because Love is a choice."

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