Love and Marriage

I still enjoy re-runs of the television show “Married with Children.”
The title song for this series was Frank Sinatra’s, “Love and
Marriage” which, despite its comical intent, recently made me think
about the relationship between the choice of love and the act of
marriage.

I freed myself of the concept of love as being mere infatuation
several years ago. Prior to this time, I chased from one failed
relationship to another until I came to the conclusion that I would
simply enjoy a full, lonely portion of life and not share it with
anyone. Two weeks after I had buried my hopes for this immature love in the cemetery of
childish things I’d yet to put aside, I met Lisa. Lisa was patient
and kind with me, she let me grow into our relationship. If love is
truly patient, kind and never jealous then maybe love is not a thing
but rather a series of characteristics in which deep trust and
affection can grow and exist.

If we humans have the power to chose, then we may choose to grow the
characteristics that are love’s nitrogen. Perhaps it is here that we
can understand love; it is a choice. It is a series of decisions to
make ourselves worthy of trust and affection and able to give those
things back. Make no mistake, I fell for Lisa the second I saw her
beautiful smile and brown eyes. However, my love for Lisa was a
conscious decision in that I recognized her as someone who was
patient enough to give me time for growth, kind enough to love my
flawed self and a person who would choose to enjoy my success as her
own and not envy it. Lisa and I typically choose to forgive quickly and
unconditionally, which allows our relationship to move forward
instead of crushing it under the weight of bitterness. If you cannot
choose to forgive, you cannot choose to love.

My first thoughts of marriage were about the actual wedding day.
While the wedding is a big day in any marriage, it is still just one
day of a long career. A marriage is actually a civil contract in which you give your word to follow its terms. Some would say it attaches strings to love; I would say it is the greatest freedom. After you
are wed, you are free to completely trust the person who has your
best interests in mind as your futures are now one. Marriage grants
you the freedom to claim another as wholly yours and not feel
possessive as you are also wholly theirs. In the wedding vows you
agree to love your partner in sickness and in health, which has a
hidden benefit. If we truly only know God when we are meek and frail then is it such a leap to find we know our spouse more deeply when we need them during the times when we’re sick? The marriage vows are not something made to control people; they are borders in which
you can exercise artistic freedom to make you’re relationship unique.
The vows of a marriage ceremony are also a map to guide married
couples who’ve lost “true north” and for whom divorce seems like the
only path.

Love is not some fragile thing and neither is marriage. “Married with Children,” the television show that got me started on this column often made fun of love, marriage and even family. However, it often returned to the conclusion that no matter how bad life became, even the worst example of manhood, Al Bundy, would admit that he loves his wife and that he is definitely, “married with children.” Man, I find inspiration for these stories in the weirdest places.

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