The Ever Changing Landscape of Marriage

Early 80’s ~ we were 12ish

Larry and Cheryl sitting in a tree, K…I…S…S…I…N…G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage(I took those jingles a little too seriously)…and then what?

Bertrand Russell says, “those who have never known the deep intimacy and the intense companionship of happy mutual love have missed the best thing that life has to give.” Keep in mind Bertrand had four wives (consecutively, not concurrently) with which to explore the concept of intimacy, a capricious notion if there ever was one.

Today I’m investigating the latest research on relationships, and how it informs our understanding of companionship, which I believe is in fellowship with intimacy. I can hear you all clicking off as I write these words. Stay with me I found some controversial studies you won’t want to miss.

Companionship, is the enjoyment of being with someone, the comforting presence of another human being in the midst of a complicated and confusing life. It’s good in theory but in practice it can be rather thorny.

Did you know that roses have a natural defense against pests, which are the spiny stem growths called thorns, and by the way so do women? Let’s see if we can de-thorn the the ever changing landscape of marriage, one barb at a time.

Most people want companionship especially as we age up, when the hustle and bustle of life slows down, and we have a chance to catch our breath, to reengage with the person who has been hunkered down in the trenches with us while we existed in a quasi war zone. I’m talking kids, cars, mortgages, jobs, tuitions, life, and of course the forbidden fruit (a reference to technology, not sex, just keeping it real).

We’re designed to be in relationship, like dogs, we’re pack animals (slightly less hairy), and we love nothing more than eating, working, playing, and napping with our tribe.

In a study that came out of Australia it was shown that companionship affects personal happiness, but not as strongly as it affects marriage well-being. In other words, if you enjoy spending time with your spouse the benefit is a healthier marriage. What a concept? I believe the most ordinary things can become extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right person. Don’t you?

I was chatting with my friend Jan last weekend, and I asked her what she valued most in life.

Without missing a beat she said, “companionship.”

God even said, “It is not good to be alone; I will make you a companion.” (Gen. 2:18-24 adapted)

I’d like to point out that Eve was not made to help Adam with the dishes and laundry. Adam is not Eve’s ultimate ground and final goal. God no. According to Tyler Blanski, Eve is the absolute pinnacle of creation (read that again), the ultimate companion, made to know and treasure a life in equal partnership with Adam. Metaphorically speaking, that’s what I’m talking about!

This is why we leave our mom and dad, hold fast to our spouse, and in all this togetherness we actually appear to be one. This cleaving and completing and complementing is paradigmatic to human flourishing. It is essential, not elective.

Sylvia Plath puts it this way, “How we need that security. How we need another soul to cling to, another body to keep us warm. To rest and trust; to give your soul in confidence: I need this, I need someone to pour myself into.”

I love how John Joseph Powell says, “It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”

I think this might be one of our most important tasks, helping each other to see beyond the superficial shell of our physical existence, and into the miracle of life, the dignity of a people called by God to love.

I agree, love can be a challenging vocation, and as Spike Jonze claims, “falling in love is kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.”

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we? All this theorizing can be annoying. I went right to the experts and this is what I found. The changing landscape of love and marriage, let me summarize for you (which means I’ll pull out what I think is important), you’re welcome.

According to researchers Kathleen E. Hull, Ann Meier, and Timothy Ortyl, “the romantic love model, which emphasizes relationship permanence (epitomized in the marriage vow of “till death do us part”) and complementary gender roles, is being displaced by a new model of intimacy, which is called confluent love.”

The confluent love model features the ideal of the pure relationship, meaning a relationship that is entered into for its own sake and maintained only as long as both partners get enough satisfaction from it to stick around. Clearly Bertand was a difficult man to satisfy. Partners in a pure relationship establish trust through intense communication, yet the possibility of breakup always looms.

I think social media has significantly influenced our expectations of marriage, shifting our traditional gender roles (a good thing), promoting individualism, but also normalizing bounce rates in relationships. Have you ever watched an episode of Friends? Clearly something is changing, especially in the United States, where I read fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Something I didn’t expect is the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher then first marriages. We’ll call it the Bertand Russell effect.

It’s as if the idea of marriage is appealing when you’re caught up in the throws of “insanity” but falls short when reality slaps you in the face.

In his recent book The Marriage-Go-Round, researcher Cherlin says Americans have established a pattern of high marriage and remarriage rates, frequent divorce and separation, and more short-lived cohabitations, relative to other comparable countries. The end result is what Cherlin calls a “carousel of intimate partnerships,” leading American adults, and any children they have, to face more transition and upheaval in their personal lives. Cherlin concludes that this unique American pattern results from the embrace of two contradictory cultural ideals: marriage and individualism.

As a reminder a permanent partnership requires cooperation, compromise, and collaboration, all oppositional to modern culture where individual needs are prioritized over the needs of the union. For example, in my own marriage I recently decided to retire and spend more time doing what I love (individual needs), but this means less time earning money (union needs). Larry on the other hand is still working (union needs) and spending less time pursuing his own interests (individual needs). And let me just say this has been the subject of many discussions, conflicts, and debates over vying priorities. It keeps things lively at the very least.

“You know it’s never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It’s always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride.” Jodi Picoult

In a study of middle-class Americans, Ann Swidler found that when people talk about love and relationships they oscillate between two seemingly contradictory visions of intimacy. They speak about love and relationships as being hard work, and they acknowledge that relationship permanence is never a given, even in strong marriages. This way of talking about intimacy reflects the ideals of confluent love but the same people who articulated this pragmatic and realistic vision of intimacy would also sometimes invoke elements of romantic love ideology, such as the idea that true love lasts forever and can overcome any obstacles, even retirement.

I don’t know about you but I find relationships challenging, all relationships, especially the ones that are important to me. Think about it. How can you blend in perfect union two people with their own unresolved issues, quarks, expectations, histories, limitations, beliefs, and values? When things heat up it gets messy, as if a crayon left in the dryer, we melt, and imbrue each other with our unique colors if you will.

According to the “experts” here are a few practical issues to consider; itimancy is hard to maintain, we suck at conflict, expectations can be brutal, we come with unhealed issues, distractions are part of the deal, familiarity is not always your friend, and even though opposites attract that can also be a cause of untold strife.

So if happily ever after is only found in fairytales we might need to redefine happiness.

“If you want to maintain romance, you have to work at it,” New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini says. “You can do this by creating new experiences, rekindling old ones, and looking for deeper, more mature love that is less about a spark than it is about love, respect, sex, and caring for each other over the course of the long run.”

No shit Sherlock.

I also found some solid research from John Gottman that suggests we should seek help early. When we live with unhappiness for too long we start to think it’s irreversible. The idea is to be kind to each other, avoid criticism or blaming, and to do this you have to edit yourself. It’s suggested that we soften our approach to a rift. Arguments often “start up” because one partner escalates the conflict by making a critical or contemptuous remark. Imagine? Bringing up problems gently and without blame works much better and allows couples to calmly engage in conflict.

Well, it’s something to aspire to in any event.

This next one is so controversial I was compelled to use it just to be ornery and I can’t wait for your response. I read a study on marriage, which claims that a relationship succeeds to the extent that the husband can accept influence from his wife. In same-sex relationships, this applies to the dominant partner. For instance, a woman might say to her husband, ‘Do you have to work Thursday night? My mother is coming that weekend, and I need your help getting ready.’ He replies, ‘My plans are set, and I’m not changing them.’ As you might guess, this guy is in a shaky marriage. A husband’s ability to be influenced by his wife (rather than vice-versa) is crucial because research shows that women are already well-practiced at accepting influence from men. A true partnership only occurs when a husband can do the same thing. Booyah.

The study also pointed out that the most successful couples are those who make at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other then negative ones. Partners don’t ride each other in good marriages (blame, judge, criticize convict), it should be characterized by a rich climate of positivity, as if a bank account, you’ll go broke if you only withdrawal your assets, one has to make deposits on occasion, and apparently all those little deposits add up.

I also found a tendentious article from Shaunti Feldhahn in which she claims that men and women can have a big impact on each other’s happiness when they make a point to engage in behaviors that each other finds pleasing. I admit the word pleasing captured my attention. She assumes men respond well when recognized for their accomplishments and women for their attractiveness. Seems a little shallow to me, and I think it goes both ways, you decide.

Feldhahn claims a woman can have a big impact on a man’s happiness when she does the following:

  1. Notices his effort and sincerely thanks him for it.
  2. Says “You did a great job at __.”
  3. Mentions in front of others something he did well.
  4. Show that she desires him sexually and that he pleases her sexually.
  5. Makes it clear to him that he makes her happy.

On his side, Feldhahn says a man will have a big impact on a woman happiness when he does the following:

  1. Takes her hand.
  2. Leaves her a message by voice mail, e-mail, or text during the day to say he loves and is thinking about her.
  3. Puts his arm around her or lays his hand on her knee when they are sitting next to each other in public.
  4. Tells her sincerely, “You are beautiful.”
  5. Pulls himself out of a funk when he’s morose, grumpy, or upset about something, instead of withdrawing.

The thing I found hard with Feldhahn’s advice is it seems antiquated, sexist, as if a woman just waits around for someone to hold her hand and tell her how cute she looks in faded blue jeans. I also appreciate it when my partner acknowledges my accomplishments, especially in front of others, and I don’t know about you but I want to know I’m sexually pleasing? I also think Larry appreciates it when I take his hand, offer a kiss, and tell him he’s a good-looking dude.

What do you think?

I stumbled on Alyson Weasley’s work and I appreciate her focus on communication. She stresses the importance of not only reporting events to each other but communicating how we feel about our experiences. She also suggests developing and maintaining a friendship with our partners takes time, translation, you have to spend time together rather than apart, even if this means saying no occasionally to other commitments (bike rides, golf, poker night), or better yet invite your partner to join you in your activities.

I believe the ability to tactfully navigate conflict is also important, for example, I prefer the filthy dog leash not be stored in the entryway or in the dining room of our home. There’s plenty of handy places to hang a leash that will not interfere with the carefully designed ascetics of a room. It’s really my only thing (my blog, my lies) and I’ve not taken kindly to contraband left on forbidden ground. I have a tendency to hide said goods and then I’m inappropriately humored as the dog walker searches in vain for the lost item. I realize this behavior is inexcusable, slightly childish, and most likely a sin, but oh so fun.

Maybe we should renew our vows?

The truth is I’m not responsible to make my partner a better person (although I try) or tamper with his intensity, I’m here to be with him while he wrestles with life, when he freaks out, celebrates, grieves, laughs, relaxes, sulks, or searches for leashes. It’s about being present to each other, showing up, staying the course with a healthy sense of humor and lots of wine.

Hello, Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding, it was considered his first miracle, and maybe he was trying to tell us something? Let’s see…it takes a community, a savior, and a miracle to make a marriage.

So there you have it, modern love according to the experts, Jesus, and my own notions of marital bliss.

Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and our relationships can’t be fixed overnight. So if you’re planning on de-thorning the rose, tackle it one stem at a time, before you know it you’ll have a flourishing bouquet without a prick. Bahaha.

“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday.” Nicholas Sparks,

I’m Living in the Gap, tackling one thorn at a time, commemorate with me in the comments.

Anecdotes:

  • “A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night” Marilyn Monroe
  • “How we need another soul to cling to.” Sylvia Plath
  • “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” Khalil Gibran

42 Comments

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  1. In my experience, wives say “You did a great job, BUT…”
    What do I know?
    First marriage, 1977-1985. Divorce, her idea.
    Second marriage. 1989-1997. Divorce, my idea.
    Third marriage, 2009- present day. Hopefully no divorce. (But you never know…)
    By the way, I had never realised you had married Tom Selleck! Must be annoying, with him being so famous. 🙂 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marriage is definitely a tricky business Pete and I imagine you have gathered some valuable experience along the way which will undoubtedly benefit your current marriage. I don’t think any of us fully understands our partners in life, we travel together, and navigate the landscape the best we can. Yes, when Larry was younger he resembled Tom Selleck, in middle age, he looked exactly like Chris Noth (Mr. Big from Sex in the City), and in his winter years, he’s looking very much like George Clooney. It’s only annoying when someone wants to take a picture with him while we’re out to dinner! Overall, I’d say marriage is pretty cool, but…C

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    1. Hi Kim, thank you, I think we were in college when that picture was taken, many, many moons ago. October is a beautiful time of year to marry and both of us married in the ’80s, we’re celebrating 37 years in November. Your marriage sounds much like mine, overcoming all those trials and tribulations has indeed made us stronger! I think it’s interesting how our needs have changed over the years but enjoying the companionship of each other has always been a constant for us. Warmly, C

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  2. This is really good, Cheryl. I would like to say people don’t talk about this enough, but you proved that apparently lots of people do. Kody and I are going on 32 years with only one divorce and a couple of separations along the way. I saw Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas on TV recently promoting their podcast Double Date, inspired by their book What Makes a Marriage Last. She said something along the lines of, “Stay on the bus long enough and the scenery changes.”

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    1. Thanks, Crystal, I agree we sort of sweep the subject of marital discord under the rug, and consider the matter cleaned up. The problem is when the rug needs replacing and they resurface unexpectedly. Larry and I argue about the same five things but we rotate so the arguments don’t get stale. Well damn, 32 years and only a few snafus, I consider that a victory! I haven’t heard of the Donahue/Thomas podcast? I’ll have to check it out. I get a kick out of Katharine Hepburn’s advice, “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” Hugs, C

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  3. Wow neighbor! You are diving right into this retirement thing. Bravo! 🙂
    Absolutely loved: “The truth is I’m not responsible to make my partner a better person (although I try) or tamper with his intensity, I’m here to be with him while he wrestles with life, when he freaks out, celebrates, grieves, laughs, relaxes, sulks, or searches for leashes. It’s about being present to each other, showing up, staying the course with a healthy sense of humor and lots of wine.”

    What is overlooked by soo many – from boomers on, is the fact that the whole concept of a “marriage” is a Judeo-Christian religious 3-three party covenant bound by honor, commitment, sacrifice, and permanency.

    I once attended a wedding in the late ’80s where in place of the very traditional “Till Death Do Us Part”. . . were the words “So Long As The Love Shall Last. . .” Catchy! that moment has stuck with me ever since. And ‘not’ in a good way mind you.
    I learned before I entered my second permanent intimate union (32 years and still going strong), that the quote “You know it’s never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It’s always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty.” doesn’t quite cover it. If you can’t handle the concept of ninety-ten or gasp. . . ninety five-five, then not so fast, don’t send out those ‘Save the Date’ cards just yet. It’s true “fools do “rush in” where Angles fear to tread. but with the Creator of the Universe on board, the most powerful force ever known as the base of your three-way covenant? Then anything and everything is possible. So if you are willing to surrender yourselves to God, and put that all-knowing, all-powerful being in the center of your marriage? Then, “Lick the stamps” buckle up, and hang on for the ride of your life because God has your back!

    Oh, one last thing. Regarding “So if you’re planning on de-thorning the rose, tackle it one stem at a time, before you know it you’ll have a flourishing bouquet without a prick. Bahaha.” The ‘mansplaining’ in me just has to say, respecting and honoring the thorn, and especially the tip where the ‘prick’ resides is some solid matrimonial advice 😉

    PPS RE: “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” Absolutely love Katherin Hepburn. . .
    in the early 2000’s when we were living up in the LG hills with the rich and famous, I was in a period when I was out of mind from 100K+ of miles in the air, personal stock in our startup at obscene value and like ‘zero patience’ for the fluid madness that passed for the lifestyle of Terrie and the girls at that time (did I mention I was gone for like what seemed 2/3s of my life back then?) I seriously considered buying the french colonial across the road where “I” would live, (only a 3 car garage but it would do, more cars were garaged across the road 😉 ), more acreage, a great pool, same fabulous view of the bay from the French provincial’s MB balcony, looking right over the top of Terrie’s identical MB balcony view and where everything on my side of the road would be in its place, all the ‘animals’ would reside across the street (farm animals, not Terrie and the girls) when driving home from a 10 day Asia trip, I wouldn’t find a parking spot filled with 40lb farm animal feed bags at 1AM while dressed in a suit, dress shoes, etc., everything would be clean, orderly, things would be where I left them, which would be in the place they were ‘supposed to be’ and when I was home I would have Terrie and the girls over for dinner, or take them out every evening and return to the “Palace d’ Christopre” for a movie in the theater room. but the lack of order back then, and lack of respect for my sanity was trying. Guess what? Once I came to my senses realizing that it would have hurt Terrie’s feelings immensely – the love of my life, and “GOLF PARTNER” for God’s sake. . . I dismissed the idea entirely and focused on what I loved about each of them and embraced the madness because I realized that as much as my OCD complex controlled my needs, those ‘orderly’ needs did not compare in importance to my mission and passion of living up to my vows which included doing everything I could to make my wife feel loved, secure and happy. I did then, and do now love the three of them beyond measure (actually Shannon is here in Phoenix visiting this week from Anaheim) Fact is, I got over it almost immediately, and got over ‘stuff’ at the same time – mischief managed, my sanity ‘mostly’ restored and better prepared for the challenges God had planned for me later 🙂 Did I mention I love your posts? 😉

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    1. Hi Chris, wow, I keep going back into your response and I learn something new each time! I’m always amazed how you pull out those pivital statements and zoom in on the essential meaning. I learned early on that marriage is like being on a Seesaw together, sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. I love this, “If you can’t handle the concept of ninety-ten or gasp. . . ninety five-five, then not so fast, don’t send out those ‘Save the Date’ cards just yet.” So true, marriage is one of those experiences that forces you to learn as you go, it’s not as if you can practice for marriage or read up on the topic and fully understand. It’s a lot like having kids, at 2 am we’re both staring at a screaming baby, and wondering what the hell happened to our life! I didn’t realize you traveled so much in your early marriage? So did Larry, he’d hop on a plane on Monday and return on Friday, he did that for about 6 years. It was challenging to say the least with four young children to manage and a dog! Okay this is the topping on the cake, “I realized that as much as my OCD complex controlled my needs, those ‘orderly’ needs did not compare in importance to my mission and passion of living up to my vows which included doing everything I could to make my wife feel loved, secure and happy.” You dethorned that rose, created a beautiful bouquet, no prick in sight! Really enjoyed your response here Chris, hugs and love to you and Terrie! C

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  4. This is an excellent article and lovely photo. Full of great insights, I especially appreciate the John Joseph Powell quote.

    “It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
    ( Beautiful)
    I

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    1. Thank you LaDonna, what kind words. I was inspired to dive into the concept of companionship after my friend said it was the thing she valued most at this stage in life. When I started researching I was surprised at all the information available, it was like harvesting a diverse garden. I too love Powell’s quote this most! Warmly, C

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    1. Thank you Fraggle, I’d love to hear your love story some day, sounds like you established a wonderful marriage with Phil, “counting your lucky stars” is about the sweetest compliment you can bestow on your spouse. Lovely, C

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        1. I’m sorry about the painful memories Fraggle but I love how you describe laughter as “marriage glue.” That’s so true! Glad it all ended will and Phil, I love that you’re living your best life, it’s the best we can do! Warmly, C

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  5. Hmmmmm….so much to unpack here. I think companionship can be wonderful. I think it can also be a death sentence. I think you need to be a complete human before you enter a romantic relationship. Too many people look to be completed. I don’t believe in that model. I also think we should have activity specific friends. I have a friend for movies, one fir theater, one for museums, one for adventures that seem odd. And I have friends that I just talk to. Companionship comes in many forms, but none will work if you don’t know who you are

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    1. Hi LA, I dove into this topic because my dear friend mentioned she valued companionship above all else especially as she ages up. I started doing a little research and was confounded by the plethora of information available on this topic. I completely agree that we need to be “a complete human,” before entering into a permanent relationship because come hell or high water no one is going to “complete you.” That’s an interesting concept “activity specific friends,” as most of mine are multi-purpose. Meaning, they can hike, go out to eat, and grab a movie with heavily buttered popcorn. Not knowing ourselves might be why we enter and exit so many relationships before we find “the one,” maybe it all hinges on knowing ourselves, and being able to ask for what we need from our significant other? Thanks so much for your comments, C

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  6. Wow, such an interesting post! I have never heard the concept of “confluent love” but definitely see it in today’s culture. I really chuckled when you wrote, “it takes a community, a savior, and a miracle to make a marriage.” After 25 years of marriage, I agree that humor, wine and Jesus solve every problem! Loved your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Leigh, I was blown away by all the studies, research and commentary available on companionship, marriage, and intimacy. It’s overwhelming and I just scratched the surface. So glad to have made you chuckle, it confirms your healthy sense of humor, and an adept understanding of relationships. Thanks for the lovely comment, C

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    1. Thank you Kit, it was fun to explore the topic, as if Lewis and Clark, I ran into a few glitches, found some knowledgeable guides, followed the flow of the subject, and ended up at the littoral of life. All my best, C

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  7. I am going on 36 years of marriage. And sometimes my husband drives me crazy and then at other times, I love the sparkle in his eyes and his big smile. I also love it when he brags about any of my writing successes. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elizabeth, 36 years of wedded bliss, I should have interviewed you for this post! That’s quite an accomplishment in today’s world. I’m with you, long marriages have their ups and downs, but like Jamie Lee Curtis says, “Stay on the bus. The scenery will change. You think you’re having a bad week, but stay on the bus, because one of these days you’ll look out the window and it’ll be beautiful.” Here’s to saving a seat on the bus for each other, C

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  8. Lately what has been on my mind about marriage is two things: (1) I keep seeing on social media about how everyone is supposedly married to the most amazing, kind person in the world. How can so many people be married to THE most amazing, kind person IN THE WORLD? And I think that my husband can be pretty amazing and kind but not THE most amazing and kind spouse IN THE WORLD. And when he upsets me or hurts my feelings, I’ll maybe come out swinging but for sure pout about it and lament how unkind he is and how I can’t stand him (in that moment). But now when that happens, I am trying to NOT do what comes naturally (sinfully) but think, “OK. He’s not the most amazing and kind spouse in the world/in this moment, but …I… can be (or try to be… God, please give me grace to be) the most amazing and kind spouse in the world to HIM…. OK, not THE most amazing and kind spouse to him but amazing and kind when I don’t feel like it. (2) As my spouse’s God-appointed helper, when I don’t feel like serving him for whatever reason, I am more inclined to serve him if I remember that it is really GOD who I am serving when I am serving my spouse and THAT makes me want to serve my husband when I don’t want to serve him. And with a smile on my face.

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    1. Hi Donna, loved your hearing your comments on marriage! I agree, social media has a profound effect on how we view not only our relationships but our livilyhoods, houses, meals, friends, vacations, lifestyle, faith, values, and politics. And yes, doing what’s counter culture, i.e. doing the kind and loving thing when we’re feeling anything but kind and loving, is exactly what Jesus did and even when we fail, I feel as if our efforts are appreciated! I appreciate how you transfer the service to ones spouse to being in service to God, makes it so much more palatable in a way, and keeps that beautiful smile on your face. Bravo, warmly, C

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  9. Cheryl, great picture and post. You and noted many excellent thoughts, but the bottom line is that companionship word. It is funny, I was thinking of an Harry Chapin song called “A Better Place to Be,” as I read this. In essence, a old warehouse watchman is relating a story of lost love to a rotund waitress at his regular cafe. At the end, she says the following to his response:

    The waitress took her bar rag, and she wiped it across her eyes.
    And as she spoke her voice came out as something like a sigh.
    She said “I wish that I was beautiful, or that you were halfway blind.
    And I wish I weren’t so god-damned fat, I wish that you were mine.
    And I wish that you’d come with me, when I leave for home.
    For we both know all about loneliness, and livin’ all alone.”

    And the little man,
    Looked at the empty glass in his hand.
    And he smiled a crooked grin,
    He said, ” I guess I’m out of gin.
    And know we both have been so lonely.
    And if you want me to come with you, then that’s all right with me.
    ‘Cause I know I’m goin’ nowhere and anywhere’s a better place to be.”

    Companionship is a better place to be. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Cheryl. My wife and I both love Harry Chapin, his songs and his storytelling between the songs when recorded live. If you like this one, “Mr. Tanner” is another favorite. You may already know his “Cats in the Cradle” and “Taxi” songs. Keith

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    1. Thank you Tony, it is best if you know ahead of time the many joys and occasional pitfalls of being in a permanent relationship, in my experience it’s all worth it! If you read through a few of the comments you’ll enjoy a plethora of wisdom on the topic. Miss you so very much, looking forward to seeing you soon, all my love, Mom xxoo

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  10. A husband’s ability to be influenced by his wife (rather than vice-versa) is crucial because research shows that women are already well-practised at accepting influence from men. A true partnership only occurs when a husband can do the same thing. Booyah.

    I feel this is the crux of your post for me, Cheryl.

    Following Pete’s example:

    Married 1979 – 1981 – divorce instigated by me.
    Married 1993 – 2010 – divorce instigated by me.

    You don’t know who you are in the foxhole with till trouble hits, then life values will turn cracks into chasms. Being together is a work in progress and both need to be invested in nurturing it.

    Love the Kahlil Gibran quote and have heard this read at a few weddings.

    Much love to you both. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jane, I’m so sorry I missed this comment, please excuse the delayed response, we skipped up to the lake and my brain shuts down. I do believe you nailed the nucleus of this post and it has to do with an overarching willingness to be a generous partner in our primary relationships. I totally agree with you, when trouble hits, “life values will turn cracks into chasms,” so well put. I feel as if my marriage is as if an ocean, storms come and go, emotions wave in and out, but sometimes we are visited by a benevolent stillness and calm, but I am under no illusion that the storms have passed for good. All my love to you, C

      Liked by 1 person

  11. OMG! That cute-cute pic of you babies! As you say, I do think “redefining happiness” is important. I’ll lump myself in with the rest of us Americans and say that the conundrum of individuality vs. companionship can’t result in the bliss we see on TV and in the pics of our social media followees. It can result in a balance of contentment and fulfillment, when partners allow each other the space to do their own thing, while remembering that if they’re not growing together and moving toward the same goals, they’re probably growing apart in some ways. Which, I think, is OK, as long is you grow back together at a near-term later date. Great thinker post, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rebecca, thank you for the kind remarks on our “baby” picture. I think it’s fascinating how posts on relationships seem to strike a cord with people. We’re all trying to figure it out, every situation is unique, yet similar in that the subject resonates with all of us. Relationships, whether romantic or platonic, dominate our lives and the care in which we give them has a powerful influence on our happiness and well-being. I like how you acknowledge that partners need to “allow each other the space to do their own thing, remembering that if they’re not growing together they’re probably growing apart.” It’s amazingly easy to get derailed in relationships and putting things straight can be a monumental task. Thanks for adding your wisdom to the pot here, I appreciate your thoughtful insights. My love to you, C

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This was so good and true, Cheryl. I was born to teen parents who split up and got back together so many times I have lost count. But they are still married…he lives mostly in Florida and she lives mostly in Michigan. They each keep a bedroom in their homes for the other. I can see I started following this pattern in my own marriage experiences. But luckily my third marriage was the charm and I think it’s because he agrees to therapy every time we hit a rough spot. That way I don’t have to repeat the model my folks built.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cynthia, thank you! Amazing, you have quite a history between your teen parents and your own marital journey. Sounds like you’ve learned a lot during your travels. Love how your parents have made their relationship work with two houses and guest bedrooms! Brilliant. I love that your husband is willing to do whatever needs to be done to keep your marriage strong! He’s a keeper. Thanks for sharing your story! Hugs, C

      Like

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