It wasn’t until my own marriage took place that I realized how important the institution of marriage really is. The little bits of wisdom I laughed at in my youth have piled up high over the years, to the point where I now have a silo filled with shoulda, woulda, couldas.
Humans are like metal, all of us with our purities and imperfections. When two people come together in a healthy marriage, a mental and spiritual metallurgy takes place, similar to the super alloys we see in the aerospace industry (admittedly not the most romantic analogy, but I’m going for accuracy, ladies).
Imagine the Air Force’s best fighter jet, and the kind of stresses that it must withstand during the course of its lifetime. When two people commit to spend their lives together, in essence they become one, and the implications of that union are felt immediately by the psyche. A married man, who knows he has a wife by his side, carries himself in a different manner. He’s much more confident and mentally strong, because he knows that if he ever stumbles there is someone there for him. A married man knows that there is nothing he can not accomplish, because a support structure is there to buttress him from the weight of workplace and professional setbacks, criticism, and bad breaks. The professional arena rewards confidence backed up with results, and it’s much easier to concentrate on performance when someone behind the scenes is stoking the fires of optimism in the heart, sanding the rough edges of the soul, and making sure that the creative wells never run dry.
Anyone who has forged metal knows it’s an intense process—like marriage—which is why “no fault” divorces and celebrity marriage fiascoes, complete with the drive-through divorce days or months later, are so destructive to our societal fabric. That’s not to say there are instances where it “doesn’t work out,” but by and large society’s expectations about marriage, what it is, and what it entails happens to be completely detached from reality. Sadly, we live in a society that nourishes narcissism. Individuals are expected to view themselves as the center of the universe, which might not be a problem if they actually knew how the universe worked…
The celestial bodies balanced in space (much more delicately than we realize) spin and circle and dance around each other, but there’s a synchronization to it all. One who views himself as the earth in his marriage shouldn’t forget that he needs the moon. The Sun is the brightest light in the sky, but if the planets and stars around it were aligned differently it might very well collapse in on itself. There’s a give and play to marriage that isn’t about one person not getting their way—nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a relief to the mind, the body, and the soul when one person can periodically give up control because they know their partner is going to lead them to someplace they wanted to go.
Two people who live together for a long time can have a healthy relationship, but there is an almost-unconscious change that happens to the married couple. When someone has taken an official oath to be faithful their spouse, those last little tinctures of doubt or questions about fidelity fade away. Those two individuals—again, now one—know that they have become the sole proprietor of their destiny, and the incentive to succeed goes off the charts.
While we can never go back and erase past mistakes, we can prevent others from walking into similar minefields. If this blog prevents even one person from getting hurt or from hurting someone else, I’ll have considered it a success. Marriage matters. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.