Marriage is not a compromise by Louise Brosnan

22 05 2016

Marriage is not a compromise

Thirty-five? Or worse, 40, and unmarried? Should a girl give up on romance and settle for someone who will take out the trash?

What does a single woman in her thirties want more than a better career, a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment? According to American writer Lori Gottlieb she wants to get married and have a family. Yes, married. And that is from a liberated gal who is in a position to know. Ms Gottlieb, well known for her humorous commentary on singlehood and dating, has reached 40 with a young son conceived by donor insemination, and in a more serious mood. In an essay in this month’s Atlantic magazine she urges younger women to temper their romantic notions of marriage with a large dose of realism, to forget about Mr Right and “settle” for Mr Good Enough. Because, as she puts it, “if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.”

“Infrastructure.” Hmmm… But I recognise the problem she is talking about. I was a partner in a large professional services firm with a successful career and a substantial salary. I had always wanted to get married and have children but for a variety of reasons I did not meet my husband until I was 36 and then marry when 37. I am now 43 with two boys aged three and five and another child due in May. However, I reached this happy state not by “settling” for a partnership without the warmth of true love, as Ms Gottlieb advises, but by growing into an understanding of what love truly is.

For many women who marry late, I suspect that, like me, it is not a case of settling for Mr Not Quite Right, but of taking time to reach the point of understanding what true love and marriage is.

False romanticism is certainly a problem. In the days before the contraceptive pill, people used to grow out of it by facing up to the fact that sex, marriage and the responsibility of providing for children all went together. Ms Gottlieb and I grew up in an era when separating them was considered liberation, and putting them together again piecemeal by single parenthood and cohabitation was considered a legitimate choice. Delaying the commitment of marriage — a trend that shows no sign of slowing down — prolongs adolescent hopes of finding a “soul mate” with whom one will have an intense emotional and sexual bond. This has become the primary meaning of marriage. Children are then desired to perfect the happiness of the couple.

There is some truth in these ideals, of course, but they have lost their proper relationship and in the process have made marriage increasingly difficult to achieve. This is much more of a problem for women than for men, since women live in shadow of their biological deadline for having children — something most are unwilling to do without the benefit of marriage. Given that nearly a quarter of women in the United States are unmarried by age 34, Ms Gottlieb is addressing a real problem. But her solution — a team-mate who “takes out the trash, sets up the baby gear, and … provides a second income” — is tragic. It reduces marriage to mere pragmatism and the single life to one with no positive potential. It completely misses what I believe is the real answer to today’s marriage dilemma.

For many years I was like most young women and had an immature understanding of marriage and all that it entails. I was (and still am) a romantic and thought that marriage would be a surreal experience where I was madly attached to my husband and would of course be the centre of his universe. Over time I realized that this was an extremely self-centred way of looking at a friendship which would be the cornerstone of marriage. I began to understand that a relationship of this kind needs to take place on different levels.

Love is a single reality with different dimensions that are needed or emerge at different times. One dimension is necessary to attract a person to another, but this becomes less necessary over time and especially as one matures. This is eros, or the “madness” that intoxicates, displaces reason and drives a person powerfully toward another. It is the central theme for movie romances and modern sitcoms.

But for all its thrills, this dimension is not enough. In fact, on its own it becomes an obstacle to the maturing of the relationship. We see this played out all the time. Love is reduced to its caricature, to the amount of gratification that each can take from it. Bartering begins: “I’ll do this if you do that.” “I will stay with you as long as the sparks last.” “If you love me you will let me do what I want.” “I won’t have children with you until I have had my career and spent my youth.” “You can have children but I am not going to let this cramp my style”. “I will absorb all you can give to me, your good humour, good looks, money, sensuality but I am not prepared to give you anything back.” It destroys the relationship or at worst leaves spouses in a permanent adolescent-style union.

The other dimension is the reaching out of one person to the other. It is a love that is, indeed, ecstasy — not a momentary sensual intoxication but an exodus out of oneself, seeking liberation through giving oneself to the other. It is a journey toward authentic self discovery and happiness. This is played out in different ways: the sharing of hopes, dreams, values, desires, sorrows and disappointments, successes and failures, laughter and tears, and of our sexuality by pleasure giving and childbearing.

I learned through a long process of maturing that I almost always ignored the second dimension when I thought of marriage and assessed a prospective spouse. Although the example is superficial, it was like shopping for a Ferrari when what I really needed was a Bentley. One would soon lose its appeal, especially as I aged and found the rough ride of a sports car uncomfortable in certain weather and on some roads; the other would prove exciting and durable under any conditions, have plenty of room for others and fit any environment.

I learned that when the two dimensions of love are combined — the thrill of eros and disinterested self giving, in measures that move like waves over time and vary in intensity with the maturity of the individuals — love achieves its true grandeur.

For many women who marry late, I suspect that, like me, it is not a case of settling for Mr Not Quite Right, but of taking time to reach the point of understanding what true love and marriage is. In the process, many will have made choices that affect their situation — some good, some bad, some indifferent — and these choices will affect other decisions that a woman can make as she ages. Nor should we forget that the single life is not necessarily a choice between loneliness and endless dating, but can be embraced as a lifestyle with its own unique opportunities for love and service.

In my case, having reached a deeper understanding of love and marriage I actually started looking for an entirely different, and in all ways far better, spouse. For others this may mean rekindling relationships with those they previously dismissed, for others it means looking for different things in a man. For single mothers it may mean looking more intently for the second dimension (even if it is made more difficult by the demands of motherhood). For some who have already married it may be a time of lamentation: “If only I had known what true love is.” For most it is seeking what always was authentically best.

Lori Gottlieb has been honest in admitting that most women still want “a traditional family” and that the current obsession with soul mates gets in the way of realising this goal. But in her desperation to get there anyway she is willing to sacrifice the very bedrock of marriage, which is true love between the spouses. The result, in her case, would not be a traditional family at all but, in her own language, a completed “construction”.

If only she had been brave enough to inquire into the nature of true love and not dismiss it in a throwaway line (“whatever that is”) she might have done her sisters a real service. Instead, she has tried to persuade us that love can be put in brackets while we persist in our twentieth century habit of getting what we want. Perhaps few people will be swayed by her argument; certainly, no-one will be helped.

I momentarily stress each time I think of the mistakes I could have made in choosing a spouse with my earlier immature understanding of love and marriage. Instead I psychologically pinch myself each time I think of my husband and how much I truly love him and, with our children, of how perfect we are for one another.





How many rings are there in a marriage? by C. Moynihan

19 05 2016

 

how many rings

An old riddle told at weddings goes like this:  How many rings are there in a marriage?  The answer: three.  The engagement ring, the wedding ring, and then the suffering.  All of you married couples gathered here at this service will be able to identify with this, I am sure.  As for Ethel and Sung Yi, they have only been wearing the first one, and are just about to get ready to put on the second one.  But in my own reflection about the truth of marriage and the marital union of husband and wife, there are really many rings that one will have to encounter and wear.  I now present the first category of these rings.

In the first stage, which is the stage that courting couples begin to find their partner in life.  This is the Engagement ring period– the pairing, the luring, the alluring, and the pampering.  This is the time when the woman and man are on their best behaviour and try all the tricks in the book to win the heart of the future spouse.  And of all days in the calendar, today, Feb 14 is the day when all stops are pulled and the ace that is kept up the sleeve is used.  Of course, florists and chocolatiers make a killing today, but that is another story.

The second category of these rings is in the period that Ethel and Sung Yi are about to embark on.  It’s the wedding ring, where the following rings are also encountered – caring, dearing, and endearing, and followed very closely will be the siring, and labouring which is the start of mothering, fathering, and the demands of childrearing.

After the honeymoon, after the children, and when the everydayness of things set in, and most of all, t is very easy for the marriage to enter into the next set of rings, where life becomes tiring, and boring.  If left unaddressed, and when there is little communication, spouses can become daring, and start wandering, meandering, steering and veering away from one another.  They may also begin touring and the whole marriage may be very enduring.

When that stressful stage is still left to develop on its own accord, the next set of rings is the most painful to wear.  Hopefully, Ethel and Sung Yi will never get to wear this set.  These are the times of sparring, firing, swearing, hollering, which often leads to injuring and tearing, and sadly, may even include clobbering, hammering and devouring.

When things get to this stage, repair is not only difficult, but because communication is already so bad, and perhaps even non-existent, many couples do not carry on.  And so we have the high divorce rates of modern day.  In today’s forum we can receive very good and sound advice, but I feel that the Christ aspect, as expected, is missing.  And this is what must make a sacramental marriage like this one so different from other non-sacramental marriages.

A sacrament is visible sign of God’s love made present to the community and to each other as husband and wife.  It is Christ who joins the two of you together.  He must come between you and it is he who bonds the two of you strongly.  The stronger you hold on to Christ, the stronger your marriage will be.

If you make the mistake of letting go of Christ in your married life, and live your days without Christ in prayer and seeking his wisdom and strength in handling situations, you will be letting go of the very source of your peace and happiness in marriage.  It’s as if Christ is the one who is holding your hands together.  If you let go of him, you will be letting go of your safety line to stability and being steadfast in your commitment to one another.

Because it is only when Christ is recognized as being the VIP in your marriage, you will enter into the last set of rings.  These are the rings that make a marriage meaningful and last.  These rings are the remembering of marriage vows, encountering one another and Christ, adoring, unfettering of burdens and guilt, the correct ordering of priorities, correct hearing, shouldering each other, load-bearing one another’s inabilities, and catering to each other’s weaknesses.  With true empowering, honouring, and proper God-fearing, will you be the true witnesses of a sacrament as wonderful as this.

C.  Moynihan

 

 





9 Things a Man Wants In a Woman by Matt Archbold

10 02 2016

man wants in woman

What does a man want in a woman? It’s been an unanswered question for centuries mostly because men aren’t stupid enough to try to answer it.

But I am.

Recently, Catherine Frank wrote about the traits a woman seeks in a man. It’s a good list that made a lot of readers think (and comment!).

I do believe God has someone out there in mind for everyone, but unfortunately God doesn’t give us an exact roadmap to find “The One.” We all need help sometimes, so here’s some thoughts on very important things a man wants in a woman.

  1. Honesty.This is the most important trait any man is looking for in a woman. I knew a guy in college who was absolutely bonkers about a girl. She really was wonderful in many ways. One night, after they’d been dating a few weeks, they walked into a party together and someone asked her an innocent question. She casually, yet believably, lied. Her response wasn’t even about something particularly important, but it was still a lie. My buddy didn’t think about it much in the moment, but later it bothered him to no end. Certainly the lie was bad enough, but he was concerned by the ease with which she lied. In future conversations he couldn’t forget how easily she’d lied and for no reason. It destroyed their relationship.

If a woman is dishonest with a man, it’ll eat us up and then we’ll become unbearable. Honesty is the basic building block for every other facet of your relationship. If you don’t have honesty, you don’t have a relationship. You’re simply managing the other person.

  1. No Half Anniversaries Please.Men hardly know what to do with our actual anniversary, not that we remember them anyway. The greatest thing that 21st century men have going for them is that we can just put the dates of our anniversary, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day into our phones and when we check to see where we’re supposed to be the next morning, we see that we better get to the florist right quick.

But what do we do with half anniversaries? There’s no half anniversary app to remind us and there’s no established protocol for such half-special days. My wife and I have an actual anniversary. I can’t tell you what it is off the top of my head, but we have one.

Then one day she comes and kisses me and tells me that it is the anniversary of our first date. What? Is that a thing? I don’t remember it being a thing before. There’s no card for that. I thought flowers were a little over the top. Chocolate was too holiday-ish. So I settled on rubbing her feet while we watched television. She seemed to like it. Win.

In reality, half anniversaries and actual holidays scare men to no end. We don’t know what to do with them. We would love if women would not think too much about what we do on those days of the year, but focus on what we do the other 364 days of the year. Like all the times we went out to start your car early so that it was warm by the time you came out. Or when we painted the room “Carolina Blue” because you didn’t like “Deep Sky Blue” anymore. We don’t even see the difference, but we do it because we love you.

Real love is not about Valentine’s Day or anniversaries. It’s about a lifetime of random Tuesdays.

  1. A Fair Fighter.This one sounds weird, right? Look, in any relationship you’re going to havedisagreements—sometimes big ones—and passions can run pretty high. Most important in a fight is to have a spouse who isn’t out to win the argument at all costs.

We also have to avoid arguing past each other. Very often, men want to argue logic and women tend to argue with more emotion. So we’re often at an impasse. But if there’s one thing men can’t stand it’s making a woman cry. We often run a quick cost/benefit analysis to decide whether to continue the fight once the tears start. Very often the man will just apologize to end it, but it’s not really over. We think we’re right and sometimes feel as if we were manipulated into surrender. Now, a man will likely not keep that specific argument going, but the resentment will still be there. It will rear its ugly head in an argument over the remote control or about leaving cabinet doors slightly ajar. And we’ll look like crazy people.

  1. Men Want Women Who Get Freaked Out by Bugs.Don’t kill bugs. We like doing it. The more skeeved out by the little critters women are, the happier we are. We get very little opportunity to display our manliness anymore since carrying swords became unfashionable (and probably even illegal in some states.) So killing bugs is something we can do to save you. And we like saving you. Let’s face it, the Empire isn’t going to kidnap you and force us to break into the Death Star to free you from their evil clutches. So right now all we’ve got is saving you from the hairy 30-odd-legged creature on the living room ceiling. We’ll take it. So scream away ladies. Scream away.
  2. Accept That We’re Men.Men are desperate for a woman who accepts that men are different than women. Very, very different. Sometimes silence is just our default setting. Don’t be upset when we don’t talk through our feelings. Don’t be upset when you ask us what we’re thinking about and we say nothing because guess what; we were probably actually thinking about nothing. We’re capable of that. And we’re good at it.

Men desperately want a woman who will accept them and not try to change them. God created us as man and woman. Different. Don’t try to undo God.

  1. A Woman Who Cares About Her Appearance.OK, let’s get this out of the way. Men are often accused of being superficial and visual. That’s because it’s sort of true. Men do appreciate a woman’s looks. But here’s the thing: we find the vast majority of women attractive. I’m not kidding, the vast majority. So yeah, we care about looks but we pretty much think you’re all great. It’s true. We want a woman who cares about how she looks…but not too much. Concern about one’s appearance can sometimes tip over into superficiality, however. It’s a fine line but hey, nobody said it’s easy being a woman.
  2. Please Say What You Mean.Men would love to find a woman who doesn’t ask a question when they’re actually trying to tell us something. My wife and I were driving home one night and she asked me if I was in the mood for ice cream. I wasn’t. And kept on driving.

Here’s the thing, every guy reading this doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with what just happened. Every girl knows exactly what came next. I pulled up to our house and started walking in and could tell she was upset. I asked what was wrong and she wanted to know why I didn’t ask her if she wanted ice cream.

“Do you want ice cream?” I asked, thinking this could be a quick fix. I thought if she wanted ice cream I’d just hop back into the car and go get her some. No problem.

But she tells me it’s not about the ice cream. She tells me it’s that I didn’t ask her if she wanted ice cream. She says it’s about communication, and love, and thinking about the other’s feelings, and wanting to do nice things for each other. She explains this to me for about 10 minutes. When she finally takes a breath I ask, “So do you want me to go get you ice cream?”

She stared at me as if I just won the crazy contest. She sighed and walked sadly back into the house. You know what I did? I went and got her ice cream. She said it didn’t help, but she was too busy munching it down to continue our conversation.

  1. Respect.I always tell my son that when you’re looking for a wife, look to see how she treats her parents because that’s likely how she’ll eventually treat you. Now, my son is nine years old and horrified at the thought of girls so he doesn’t listen very closely but someday, I assume, he’ll come looking for my sage advice. Until then I’ll just write my advice to complete strangers, like you

 





Woman finds cure for her Bitter marriage: A story

20 03 2014

young woman drinking with waterglass

A woman came to St Vincent Ferrer and complained bitterly that her husband was so impatient and short tempered that she could not stand it anymore. She asked if St Vincent could give her some remedy to bring peace and quiet back into the household.
“I’ll tell you what to do,” said the saint. “You go over to the monastery and ask the brother at the entrance to give you some water from the monastery well. When your husband comes home, take a good drink of this water, but don’t swallow it. Just keep holding it in your mouth, and you will witness a miracle.”
So the wife went home and followed those directions carefully. No sooner had her husband come home in the evening than he began to complain and criticise. The wife hurriedly took a big mouthful of the mysterious water and kept her lips tightly sealed. Soon the husband stopped ranting and raving.
The housewife repeated the water treatment again and again with amazing results. Her husband changed completely. He began to speak loving words to her and even praised her patience and tolerance.
The lady was overjoyed with the change that had come over her husband and so she went back and told St Vincent all about the miracle water. But the saint just smiled and said, “My dear, it was not the monastery water that caused the big change in your husband. It was your silence. Formerly your answers just made him all the more angry; but now your silence soothes and calms him down.”








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