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Sunday, 31 March 2013

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Marriage Proposals
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Government Gazette

Finding happiness in a relationship

"For it falls out / That what we have we prize not to the worth / Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost, / Why, then we rack the value, then we find / The virtue that possession would not show us/ While it was ours."

~ William Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing.

In a time when nothing is more certain than change, for better or for worse, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its rarity and scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been, enhanced. Yes, marriage is a commitment, a tie of responsibility, a pledge of promise. However, amidst a generation of seekers and skeptics, finding happiness in our most profound relationship has not been an easy task. Marriage may mean facing the complexities of commitment with the wisdom of man or God; but only with the passage of time do we really learn who the other person is, and come to love the person for him or herself and not just for the feelings and experiences they give us.

Our culture says that feelings of love are the basis for actions of love.

And of course that can be true, but it is truer to say that consistent actions of love can lead consistently to feelings of love. As such, marriage becomes a deep oneness that develops when two people, speaking the truth in love to one another, journey together to the same horizon.

That is why marriage has the power to set the course of our life as a whole. If our marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in our life around us are filled with trouble and weakness; it will not matter. We will be able to move out into the world in strength. I suppose that is why it is said, real love, instinctively desires permanence.

Humans are widely known for their love of nature, their commitment to mercy and justice, and their love of their neighbours. Nevertheless, modern culture would make us believe that everyone has a soul-mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that our spouse is there to help us realise, our potential; and that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. If so, does it mean that marriage, as we know it, is passť, past the prime, and out of fashion?

Statistics

After all, over sixty percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce; and I do not have the statistics for Sri Lanka. I still think that marriage is not passť. Despite the discouraging statistics in these modern times, couples continue to marry and remarry, trying again, and again, to get it right. Therefore, despite the rising divorce rate, and the increasing incompatibility of couples, all those modern-day assumptions are, in a word, wrong. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures; but it is, in principle, recognised as an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged.

All forms of love are necessary to all creatures and none are to be ignored; but all of us humans find that some forms of love are more emotionally valuable to us; more precious and hence, to be cherished. However, there has been an evolution in marriage that has taken place in today's world, and most people do not have a clue that it has happened. They are busy trying to carry on in modalities that no longer work while the world crashes down around them. Both men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community, but as a way to reach personal life goals.

They are looking for a marriage which will fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires. That creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to a deep pessimism as to whether they will ever find the right person to marry.

They realise not that in any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which our feelings of love dry up.

When that happens, we must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. If we do that, as time goes on, we will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and we will become more constant in our feelings.

As marriage has evolved, we have evolved as well. Yet, we have for the most part, not yet discovered that marriage has moved out of the realm of the physical and into the realm of a spiritual partnership. Women are self-sufficient now. They no longer need a man around to gather fire and food for them. They are educated enough to provide for a family without the man's wealth. But it alone seems not to be enough.

Physical attractiveness will wane, no matter how hard you work to delay its departure. And socio-economic status unfortunately can change almost overnight. When people think they have found compatibility based on these things, they often make the painful discovery that they have built their relationship on unstable ground. A woman 'lets herself go' or a man loses his job, and the compatibility foundation falls apart." Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage.

For success in marriage, what we should remember is that over the years someone has seen us at our worst, and knows us with all our strengths and flaws; and yet, has committed him or herself to us wholly in matrimony.

This merciful commitment also strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves. Therefore, in a marriage, love without truth becomes sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws.

Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. Marriage should be marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to the cause of happiness of the spouse.

This conviction will move us to cling to, and rest in the grace of, marriage. Remember that marriage must become a sacred healing ground as you set upon your earth walk together.

See you this day next week. Until then, keep thinking; keep laughing. Life is mostly about these two activities.

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