Saturday, 25 August 2012

5 lessons about marriage, 95 to go.


Cycling alongside Bedford river this afternoon I came across Jaz and Sav. They had just got married and were strolling along looking quite magnificent in their wedding attire. There were several of their friends videoing and taking pictures, but they kindly let me take one. Warm congratulations to them.
Jaz and Sav


Biddy and I have been married just over 34 years. What have I learned?

1. It's hard work. Indeed like anything worthwhile, winning an Olympic medal, keeping a house clean and tidy, marriage requires work.

2. It's worth it. In one of the best books on the subject, The meaning of marriage, by Tim and Kathy Keller, after acknowledging the many negative messages about marriage, they go on to say
During the last two decades, the great preponderance of research evidence shows that people who are married consistently show much higher degrees of satisfaction with their lives than those who are single, divorced or living with a partner. It also reveals that most people are happy in their marriages, and most of those who are not,  and who do not get divorced  eventually become happy. Also,  children who grow up in married,  two parent families, have two to three times more positive life outcomes than those who do not. The overwhelming verdict,  then,  is that being married and growing up with those who are married are enormous boosts to our well being.

3. It takes time.  This is a difficult concept in our 'have now pay later' economy. I remember many years ago, being told by my good friend Dr Mody, a fine anaesthetist at Bedford Hospital, that Indian couples got married and then gradually fell in love. It may be somewhat simplistic, but there is at very least a kernel of truth in that.

4. It's the best crucible for character development.  The problem is that I am actually my true self when I'm at home-and that needs a lot of work!  Just yesterday I was trying to help a married couple at the surgery, and the guy said that he was so tired of 'acting' by the time he got home from work. Although struggling with himself currently, at least he could just be himself when at home. Humbly listening to and adapting to my spouse has the capacity for growth. I've got a lot to learn here.

5. Never take it for granted.  Like  many wonderful things in life it can be spoiled in a moment. Just like a scratched masterpiece of art or a pair of white trousers, it does't take long to do the damage. Although sometimes the damage is dramatic and short-lived at other times there is insidious 'low-grade' damage over a long time. Thus could be something as seemingly trivial as not bothering about appearance or just not being thoughtful about the other's likes and dislikes, this eventually carves its way through a relationship just like the relentless effect of  the sea eroding a shore line after many years.

Bonus ball....? Giving and receiving forgiveness is vital.
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