The Hardest Part of Marriage



As a society, we seem to be acknowledging the cost of

family instability.  We’re looking for ways to address the

problem.  Welfare reform, teen-pregnancy prevention,

abolishing the “no-fault” divorce, chasing down runaway

parents and prosecuting abusers are just a few of the legal

and social remedies being considered.  The cry for “family

values” is heard across the land.

I don’t believe we will succeed in imposing family

values through institutional measures.  Maybe we can create a

climate more conducive to family stability but that won’t

solve the problem.  People won’t give up their own freedom to

choose, not in America.  Nor should they.  We cherish our

right to make the same mistakes over and over.

We ought to replace some of this family values chatter

with information about “marital values”.  Marriage is the

beating heart of the family.  Sadly, most people don’t know

that marriage is not just about love for another person.

It’s about transformation of the self.

To do marriage right you must be willing to let it

change you.  This is not an easy thing to bear and yet most

of us need to change some things about ourselves in order to

reach our full potential.  The problem is that it hurts.

People often seek to change partners in order to avoid

having to change themselves.  That’s what having affairs is

about, too.  With a new partner you can run all your old

games again.  You can use your bag of tricks to convince

someone that you are who you wish you were.  If you can make

it stick then you can believe it yourself.

Unfortunately this won’t hold up.  As soon as anyone

gets close they start to reflect you as you really are.  Once

again you’re faced with the need to change.  Or hide.  Or


The high art of monogamy is in facing who you are as

reflected in the eyes of your partner and, of course,

allowing them to do the same.  You have to give up your

illusions about yourself and about your partner, too.  That’s

when the real adventure begins.




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