This weekend we are going to a wedding. It has me thinking about marriage. Two nights ago we watched Revolutionary Road which was really a movie about marriage. It was a very depressing movie about marriage actually. The very last scene of the movie summed up the dark view perfectly. In that scene an older couple is sitting in their living room. The wife is talking away and the husband with the most miserable look on his face covertly turns off his hearing aid so he can’t hear a word she is saying. The movie was set in the 50’s (I think) and the couples all just seem to have settled into lives without joy. And the main characters certainly seem to blame each other for killing dreams and leading one another to a dull existence. For a brief moment you think they are going to come together and turn things around, but in the end only one of them is willing to change and that change is actually quite tragic.
So that led me to even further think of marriage. Of course I have come to believe that everything in your life is a reflection of your deepest beliefs about yourself and desires for your life. Your ultimate partnership might be the biggest reflection of this. Perhaps we truly chose people who “complete us,” people who have qualities that we would like to strengthen within ourselves or provide us with opportunities to fulfill roles we desire at a deep level. I know that for me when I was younger I was very impulsive and struggled with this. I often made decisions without thinking through the consequences. I wanted to move past this. It does not surprise me that in Mark I found one of the most thoughtful, careful people I’d ever met. Over the years we have truly balanced one another out and I don’t even want to know where I’d be without him.
Marriage takes work and care though. Sometimes, when challenges arise, we get so stubborn that we forget (or possibly aren’t even aware) it was us, ourselves that attracted these “teachers” into our lives. In those moments we have a decision to make, we either become teachable or we remain “right.” And that doesn’t even mean that we let our spouse give us a lecture or teach us a lesson, it means that we ask ourselves what we need to learn from the situation. It may be that we need to learn to let go of the small things or love ourselves in the way we long to be loved by others.
I have a friend who says that there are three stages of marriage. You may experience them with 3 different people, or they may all be with one. However it looks, you get to phases in your life where you grow and change. At that point you make a decision to grow together or apart. I believe your attitude has more to do with this than anything. I think stepping back and viewing the partnership through a wider lens can help. From that viewpoint you can see the positives instead of honing in on the challenges. You can also begin to question yourself about what you need to learn in order to be joy-filled!
My wish for my friends is that as they embark on this journey and experience the ebb and flow of their lives together that they will not lose sight of the big picture. I hope they always see the silver lining in every challenge and the best in one another. I hope they will choose happiness over being right and try to maintain an attitude of gratitude.