High River United Church of High River, Alberta


The Seasons of a Marriage - It's Not All Romance - Part 3

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Prince Charming comes riding in on a stallion, kisses Sleeping Beauty, she awakes, a glamorous wedding is staged and they live happily ever after. This story of the pursuit of love and romance is told over and over with so many variations. It is the basic premise of romantic movies. Almost always the guy is pursing the gal. A challenging time or a test of the love may occur. And then they are in each other’s arms and all is well -- forever.


Unfortunately, that is the picture we are left with – the happily ever after. But anyone who has been married (or in any other form of coupleship) for any length of time knows that happily ever after doesn’t describe the rest of life.


Marriage (meaning any committed relationship) is not perfect romance forever. It is not happily ever after day after day after day. Truthfully, romance is hard to sustain. Romance is built on the delight of little surprises – things we do for each other, things we learn about each other, things we do together. The more you get to know one another, the harder it is to surprise each other. Oh, you can still do it occasionally, but not day after day continuously. So romance just can’t last.


Therefore marriage has to be something more than romance, because if you’re only in it for the romance, you are going to be disappointed sooner or later.


Marriage is a committed partnership for journeying together through all that life brings. The purpose of the commitment will vary from couple to couple, but may include building a home together, raising children together, developing a business together, and/or pursuing certain mutual interests with each other.


A marriage is based on two invitations:


a. I invite you to exist in my presence.


b. I invite you to be your own person in my presence.


A relationship begins with an invitation to exist in each other’s presence. I want you in my life. I like who I am when I’m with you. Please be part of my life. I welcome you.


But this invitation to exist needs to go one step further. It needs to be an invitation to be yourselves in each other’s presence. The relationship is not going to grow deeper and better if one or both partners is constantly having to edit and alter themselves, what they say and how they do things to appease the other person. One or both people can’t be always trying to be something they are not. Each person should be able to blossom and grow to be a better and better version of themselves within the relationship. If this invitation doesn’t exist, it can always be worked on and built into the relationship. There is always possibility to grow and deepen a relationship.


At the same time, when we love someone we will consider carefully what we say before we say it. We don’t want to wound the other person with our words or our actions. What we say and what we do is always tempered by our love for the other person. Having permission to be ourselves doesn’t mean being rude or demeaning to the other person.


On days when we don’t particularly feel “in love” with the other person, we still consider carefully when we choose to say something and how we say and do things, just out of common human courtesy, respect and compassion.


The fruit of a growing and deepening relationship is compassion and caring. The compassion and care that develops between a couple will naturally flow out to others – to children, to friends, to the community. Ultimately, our relationship is not just for ourselves. We are meant to be a gift, not only for each other but also for the world. As the apostle Paul writes, “To each person is given the gifts of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)


So we fall in love and delight in the romance. Each in invited to exist in the other’s presence, and that invitation is unconditional so that each person can be who they are and become more of their own person. The blossoming of love and care within the relationship then flows out as a blessing to the family, the community and the world.


And there are good days and bad days, and everything in between. Some days, some weeks, the whole relationship works better than others. Yet, what holds a marriage together is not romance but rather gentle hearts that seek healing, forgiveness, hope, and possibility together through all the seasons of life.

February 6, 2020                ©Susan Lukey 2020

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