From the book, Marriage Minutes…..
Marriage Minute # 130 Threats
A while ago, I asked the question, “What attracted you to marriage?” One of the good things about a good marriage is a quality seldom discussed but almost always found in what we usually call “good” marriages. Let’s take a minute and think about it.
Marriage gives two people the ability to experience both Connection, at the core of who they are, and Growth, moving into mature adult life, achieving, contributing, and fulfilling the life-calling they discover. Relationship with God does this, and good marriages do it, and a few excellent friendships do it, but beyond these relationships, no other such opportunity seems to exist. And, marriage seems to be alone in its way of bringing this about.
Despite the common fears we hear about, intimacy need not be a threat to the full development of the personality, the career, the interests, and the life-calling of each individual. Neither does the outer world of an individual have to be a threat to intimacy and connection. There are threats, but I believe that these threats are something other than connection or growth.
Threat number one is the belief that intimacy is a hiding place; a place to avoid the demands of personal growth. The person who believes that they won’t have to face the world, assume challenges, risk failure, or stretch their abilities, will bring a lethargy to marriage. Though they won’t intend to do so, they put their relationship, and their own life, in “park.” Intimacy gets confused with dependency and fear. True intimacy requires independence and courage. The privacy of the marriage is not the threat. Believing that the privacy is all there is to marriage, is the threat.
Threat number two is the belief that personal growth is a hiding place. Many people say they “just outgrew” their spouse. That can happen, but we ought to be careful about this problem. Sometimes people grow apart because they failed to communicate about their pilgrimage, and they failed to invite the other to go along with them on the journey. For many generations, the world of personal growth and accomplishment was seen as exclusive from home. The Industrial Revolution (not genetics) sent men to work and devalued Connection and Personal Growth of the people in relationship. For years, women have been seen as props for the husband’s career, leaving her out of the world of achievement. Both men and women need trophies, but the trophies can’t be the other person.
Another real threat is the belief that marriage is a trap in which to trap another person. Our culture is rife with jokes about the problems that happen in marriage. Yet, I believe that it is a unique place to accomplish growth inside and out, growing at both edges, both in intimacy and in outer growth.
Let’s say you are hungry. You go to a restaurant and you get food poisoning. You go to another restaurant and get food poisoning again. Now, you have some choices. You can decide that these restaurants are bad. You can decide that hunger is bad. If you decide that hunger is bad, you have to stop eating. My point is this- don’t give up on marriage because of the fact that some problems occur, or because some people hurt others and make marriage look bad. Don’t give up on marriage because you are bored, anxious, or depressed. It’s not the intimacy that is interfering with your life dreams. Nor is it the life dreams that interfere with intimacy. What interferes, is not understanding, that these are two growing edges of each of the two people in the marriage.