This weekend past, at the time of writing this post, the privilege of attending a wedding allowed some reflection to take place. What does it take to make a marriage work. While a vast topic, focusing on the much narrower part, the wedding ceremony is the pivotal point in the long journey of love.
What does it take to make it down the aisle to the alter? Are there certain things that will enhance the odds of making it to the alter and beyond?
To Say “I Do”
There are many cliche’s and many puns around the art of walking down the aisle. Depending on who you talk to and what point of view they share, opinions range widely from “Do not do it” to “It’s the best thing you can do”
In all seriousness, marriage is not for everyone. It’s one of the very few careers you can engage in with no formal preparation, education, infrastructure, or plan and be entrusted with the influence and impact on two or more generations.
Before anyone starts to bristle, the quality of a marriage will have a huge impact on one’s life quality, the quality of any children who come of that union, and they in turn will pass on a lot of that legacy to their own.
This is not counting the impact on coworkers who may have to hear opinions about the relationship (think the hours of griping that could happen if things soured). What of friends who spend countless hours on the phone discussing the issues of the relationship if things turn for the worse. Let’s not get started on any potential wars between families, internal conflicts within the family, and the general community that has to deal with distracted sour moods.
The reverse is also true. If you’re in an awesome relationship, think of all the positive ripple effect that takes place for all the aforementioned people. Your relationship inspires, gives hope, refreshes vows, and leaves a positive lasting legacy.
It takes two complete mature people to make one solid relationship. That includes compatibility as well as commitment. Two whole complete people will make a relationship sound.
The myth out there is that your mate will complete you. Total myth. No one has time to babysit anyone these days. Life is hard enough as it is. The dependency on someone else to make things work inside one’s own head is ludicrous. Get your own head game solid before getting involved with anyone.
Note: Pushed to an extreme logical end, most folks start dating way way too early in life. Few teens are completely whole people at 13. Just a thought
What is this wholeness?
Having a good sense of who you are is the key part of being whole. Having independent thought and values. Knowing what you stand for, will work for, will sacrifice for, will say no to, and what does not work for you are just a few of the characteristics of self-awareness that indicates wholeness.
Some people are blessed to know themselves well very early in life. Some early teens have a solid understanding of themselves. Sadly, not as many adults as one would imagine have that level of insight into themselves.
It is work to make oneself complete. It is lots of soul searching. It is a process of using introspection as well as carefully selected advice to uncover who one is. It’s not always fun or glamorous.
Nevertheless, it is critical. The success of marriage depends on it. The success in life, period, depends on this work. Knowing yourself is the first part of being true to oneself. Only in that truth can one find someone they can work with, live with, interact with.
Uncovering what you’re all about well into a committed relationship is risky. Imagine finding out two years into a serious long term relationship that you really can not stand a messy car. Should your partner be one who prefers a messy car, you’re in for a wild ride. The phrase irreconcilable differences start to get bantered about.
The person who loves their car super neat will not understand why a car can’t be neat. The person who loves their messy car will never admit that they like a messy car. They will have explanations such as being prepared for work or being too tired after work to remove all the stuff that will just return back into the car the next day. The two will battle it out and damage their relationship because those two views aren’t compatible.
Knowing this well in advance of getting involved means screening out for that trait (or others like it) and not getting the heart in a mess to start with.
For Better, For Worse, I Do
In the end, the journey to the alter is all about self-discovery and finding someone who you can work with. Someone who is enough like you that they don’t bump heads with your on the simple things like the orientation of the toilet paper or the seat position of the toilet. It’s finding someone who is just enough different that you’re learning from each other and motivating each other… but way more alike to you so that it feels comfortable being with that person day in and day out.
Someone who is willing to fight with you to keep the relationship alive in a society that rather throw away people than work on bonds. It’s finding that person you get and who gets you.
Two complete whole people are mature grown adults who can take care of themselves but choose to take care of each other to share the burden of life. The goal is not to unload on someone all your burdens. It’s the joint lifting of each other and finding more efficient ways to streamline the process so the load feels much lighter because you’re in this together.
To say “I Do” is not just a promise, it is the act of working as a team. It is the act of sharing fully and knowledgeably. It is understanding even when others can’t understand. It is loving even when others don’t see the point. It is cherishing even when others can’t find the value. It is being true to one another because that is what the both of you have decided to do.
The “I Do” is less a declaration and more of an action. It’s more of a lifestyle. It is more of a mission and vision. It is action in motion. The words are just for the benefit of the audience on the lovely wedding day. But the principle is for life, for eternity, for ever as in forever.
Until that day when you are ready to say “I Do”, go about being the most complete person you know how to be and never settle for someone who is not the most complete person they know how to be.
Until next time, cherish your vows (for those who made them) and be as complete as you can be (even if you’ve not made any vows)
P.S. these thoughts apply for long term non-marital relationships as well