Not Every Apple Has a Worm

22 07 2010

Welcome to my home.  I would love to offer you a cup of coffee, but I am unable.  It would be brewed from a Mooka Express, dark and heavy, laden with a syrupy sweet creamer.  Granted, you could have it light or dark, whatever your preference.  I would love to offer you a cup, but I’m afraid you’ll have to serve yourself this time.  I cannot see you.  I will not hear you.  I am unable to do anything for you, except that I might talk to you.  For this, I am grateful.  The experience is not unlike praying to God, I might suggest.  Here you are, in my home, flanked by books and a computer, overlooking my living room, where my wife rests on the couch, reading.

I invite you into my castle in the lingering twilight, waiting for the various stained-glass  lamps to turn on by their timers, because I want to show you an example of what a life might be.  It is not an ideal life, by any means, but it seems to exceed the limits that some seem to put on their own expectations.  When I was first married, my father told me what many others have said, that marriage has its ups and downs, that marriage is a lot of work, but it’s worth it.  Some would have said that marriage isn’t worth the effort.  Not one single person ever told me that there was any chance that marriage would be a wonderful, easy cornucopia of joy.  No one said that I could, even remotely, hope to have years and years without a serious disagreement.  They only told me that I’d eventually grow tired of my wife, and that we’d need a television to keep us entertained.  My brother told me that after two years a couple is no longer considered newly wedded.  After that, I assumed we were to merely settle into a comfortable but dull coexistence.

A blogger whom I respect even said, outright, that couples who never seem to have troubles suffer from a shallow relationship.  It’s that dark problems and heavy disagreements can never arise between two people who are never really close to each other.  The implication is that in order to have a healthy marriage, one must occasionally be miserable.

Had I relied solely upon my parents’ stormy marriage, I might have believed these suggestions.  Had I relied on my brother’s disastrous and nearly fatal marriage, I might have never been married.  The fact is that I simply did not fall in love and commit myself to this other wonderful person because I have at the back of my mind the sadistic need to be lambasted periodically by the one person who has the real power to absolutely destroy me.  No one marries because they want more hardship.  We all marry because we want to fill our lives with bliss.

I want to show you that my marriage has been happy, in a way that the world would call unrealistic.  It has not been a lot of work, and there have not been any serious bumps in the road.  I do not say this to brag.  I say it because if you don’t think it is possible, then you will never achieve it for yourself.  I want every marriage to be stable and dripping with mutual love and adoration.

To counter the arguments made by the nuptial pessimists, I thought to suggest what one might do to arrive at a lasting, happy marriage.  I must admit that I am at a loss.  Marital advice is thrown at us from every corner, mostly by people with failed marriages.  They are the people whose marriages have been to Hell and back who have the most advice to give, but none of these people can conceive of one without trouble.  To them, the spark of romantic love always turns to a devastating inferno.  Happy people are too busy being happy to write about it.  That’s why most poems are sad.  Therefore, I’d like to show you a marriage that has, after a reasonable span of years, not lost what it set out to accomplish, which is the mutual and uninterrupted increase in happiness.

If you say that this is impossible, then I would kindly ask you not to insist upon it.  Nothing hurts joy worse than the belief that it can not exist.  More importantly, if a nobody like me can make a marriage work, then anyone can.

Granted, the most important step, I think, was in choosing a suitable companion.  I understand that not all marriages are matches made in Heaven.  I understand that not everyone is like me, but, more importantly, not everyone is married to my wife.  I can only control one half of the relationship, but therein lies the first step toward a healthy marriage: not attempting to control the other half.

But though we cannot help what comes to us, we can only help what we do with what comes to us.  If every marriage began in love, then every marriage has something to return to.  It can always be restored to an earlier point.  Ideally, it can always be restored to the beginning.  The reason that we drift from this is simply because we have the innate tendency to get used to our own lives.

Take, symbolically, the little girl with the doll house.  The doors in the little structure move on hinges, and she is delighted.  The furniture can be rearranged, and the little lights can be turned on or off.  Clothes hang in the closet.  The mother stands in the kitchen, and the father sits on the sofa with his newspaper, and the girl is delighted by everything and every detail.  She loves her house as it is.  In fact, she loves it more when it is built to imitate real life.  When she reaches adulthood and marries, she might have a house of her own, which she is delighted with, at first.  When was the last time you opened a door and remarked, “Wow, the doors even open and close!  And the lights even turn on and off with this little switch, here!”  Never?  The fake has been usurped by the real, but while we were impressed by the fake, we are unimpressed by the real, because we are overly used to it.  A very important key to a happy marriage is to live like a couple of kids playing house.  Play is fun, even when it’s an errand.

Feminism has wrecked our society.  In an attempt at “equality,” wives have gone to work, just like their husbands.  As a result, the cost of living, namely the cost of home ownership, has increased.  Now, one would seem to need two incomes to survive.  But while the husband comes home from work to enjoy himself, the wife comes home to continue working.  The home seems to be the workplace of the woman, even when it ostensibly is not.  In attempting to be the man’s equal, the woman works twice as hard.  I can only imagine the resentment that must build with time.  We can say that the husband should do his share of the work around the home, but the fact is simply that in most cases the wife will be the one to clean the house, prepare the food and raise the kids, more than the man ever will.  She does it, because she cares more about these things than he does.  I must say that one major contributing factor to our mutual happiness is that my wife does not work outside of the home, except to volunteer occasionally for charity.

In saying all of this, though, let us not forget the importance of faith.  If husbands would love their wives as Christ loved the church, then our marital problems would be half-solved.  Our love could not be broken, even by death.  If we displayed the fruits of the spirit, if we loved each other selflessly, then we could not go wrong.  We would never have a grudge to hold.  If we prayed for humility, and if we submitted ourselves to the will of God, then we would not dominate or belittle each other.  If we both hold true to the passionate love of the same God, a determined love of his righteousness and a shared awe of his glory, then we share the most important thing of all.  Everything else is negotiable.  Every material item is a fleeting piece of matter.  Every physical want is just a passing gas.  The only thing that matters is the one thing that we can always agree upon.  We are both tied to the same anchor.

Not every apple has its worm.  The cynic would love to dig into every relationship until he finds the problems that the couple works so hard to hide.  Sometimes they work at hiding their troubles more than they work at preventing them, but not every relationship is laden with such things.  There is no perfect relationship, as there is no perfect car, but there can be a spotless, lovingly maintained one that looks like new, even when it is decades old.

I wish the best to you and yours.

Sincerely,

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