Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Quite frankly I'm not a romantic about the state of matrimony.

A good friend e-mailed this and I have permission to share its wisdom.

Quite frankly I'm not a romantic about the state of matrimony.

My own parents had taught me to be realistic about marriage. I can 
remember being told that they had talked for a good year before their 
wedding about what each expected of each other - not only the goals 
of a good marriage but the minutiae of daily living - from finances 
to household maintenance.

My expectations going into marriage 29 years ago was that the first 
year would be our worst as we would be adjusting to different 
expectations (we were raised in different languages & cultures). Our 
agreement was that we would be upfront about what bothered us. I 
warned him that I'd not back down on what was important to me. Nor 
should he with me. This kind of honesty takes a lot of courage and 

The second year, we worked on compromises for the things we couldn't 
agree on. A lot of negotiating took place.

The third year, we worked on acceptance. Face it, if we weren't 
going to budge from our positions over a two-year period, then it was 
a part of who were were, so learn to live with the differences.

Over the decades the cycle of adjusting has become as normal as breathing.

I responded.

I always say marriage is no bed of romantic roses. It means challenge and change. That is so for anyone but if there are big differences in the backgrounds of the spouses it is more difficult, whether race, culture, class, wealth, education, interests or whatever. These disparities have to be faced before and after the wedding. But there is only one difference that is the ultimate bar to tying the knot. You cannot get married if one of you is an unbeliever. But if you both know God's grace and your need of him in making your changes, then with that alone as the sine qua non, you can wed... but with eyes wide open, not covered by rose tinted romantic spectacles. Reality in marriage needs faith and love more than it needs romance. But real romance is to be treasured too. But, contra our culture, it is not an essential prerequisite.

Hear the realistic Sam J's wisdom.

Domestic discord is not inevitably and fatally necessary; but yet it is not easy to avoid. - Samuel Johnson, Rasselas [the princess Nekayah]

To live without feeling or exciting sympathy, to be fortunate without adding to the felicity of others, or afflicted without tasting the balm of pity, is a state more gloomy than solitude; it is not retreat, but exclusion from mankind. Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.-Samuel Johnson: Rasselas [from the character Princess Nekayah]

I am not so much inclined to wonder that marriage is sometimes unhappy, as that it appears so little loaded with calamity; and cannot but conclude that society has something in itself eminently agreeable to human nature, when I find its pleasures so great that even the ill choice of a companion can hardly overbalance them. Samuel Johnson (given to a fictional correspondent) in Rambler #45 (August 21, 1750)

I believe marriages would in general be as happy, and often more so, if they were all made by the Lord Chancellor, upon a due consideration of characters and circumstances, without the parties having any choice in the matter. Boswell: Life of Johnson

I love the last quote. The LC is the head of the UK judiciary.

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