Happy Marriage 101: Don’t raise your voice, yell at your spouse

I was eating lunch with my wife a few days ago when she said that in hindsight she is thankful for a rule I established early on in our relationship. I told her many years ago that I would never raise my voice with her, but that I would expect the same treatment in return. I said I was willing to end the relationship if she could not abide by the rule.

This seems like a common sense condition, but it does not take long to realize that many people do not follow it — even in public. In fact, some people claim that yelling adds “passion” to a relationship. I would argue that screaming at a spouse and calling the ordeal an aphrodisiac is a form of denial; it is dysfunction masquerading as love.

When a person raises his or her voice in an argument, it is a sign of desperation. It indicates a loss of control. The couple immediately enters an emotional realm that is conducive to mental and physical violence, which is why it is exponentially embarrassing if the man is the one who raised his voice first.

Yelling at someone does not add legitimacy to an argument, but for some reason many individuals think increased decibel-levels magically perform such a function.

Raising your voice does denote anger, but a healthier way of conveying that feeling is to simply say, “I am angry.” If you say what you mean and mean what you say with your spouse on a regular basis, then that statement alone will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

As was already mentioned, a man should never yell at his significant other. The vast majority of men are physically stronger than the women in their life, so ending a disagreement by introducing the specter of violence — even if the man has never physically harmed his wife — is  cowardly, wrong, and ipso facto detrimental to the long-term health of the relationship.

“Anybody can become angry,” Aristotle wrote. “That is easy. But to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not … easy.”

Anger is a natural feeling, and in general there is nothing wrong with feeling anger. The key is to channel that anger in healthy ways. If you struggle with this task, then I suggest checking out the book “Overcoming Sinful Anger,” by Rev. T.G. Morrow. It is a short book, but one filled with advice that will leave you happier and healthier if you take his words to heart.

RELATED: Ten tips for a stable relationship

Media’s next goal: Sell public on non-monogamous marriages

It was just this past summer that NY Mag contributor “Michael Sonomore” attempted to make the case for “open marriages.” Tech Insider has now jumped on a new study by Journal of Marriage and Family to basically say, “Hey, did you and your spouse ever think of becoming a swinger? Maybe you should.”

First the goal of popular culture was to divorce the definition of marriage from Christianity. Then the goal was to strip people of the idea that the union between one man and one woman is so integral to building a healthy civil society that it should be cherished with its own institution. Sometimes sociologists describe marriage without ever using the world “love,” and now it’s essentially “marriage means whatever we say it means,” (i.e., it means nothing).

“Marital Monogamy as Ideal and Practice: The Detraditionalization Thesis in Contemporary Marriages” includes the results of surveying 90 Canadians who were questioned on monogamy and marriage. Researchers spoke with 26 heterosexual females, 21 heterosexual males, 21 gay males, and 22 lesbians. Most of the couples were relatively young.

Tech Insider reported Wednesday:

“Research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests that another big change is happening in how people think about marriage: Some no longer consider monogamy an absolute essential. …

The first questions the couples answered revealed that people are becoming more open to the idea of non-monogamous marriages. Less than half of all the heterosexual female respondents, about one-third of the heterosexual male respondents, and “relatively few” homosexual couples felt that marriage and monogamy were inseparable, the researchers concluded.

Most people interviewed thought that monogamy isn’t something that a marriage necessarily requires. As one participant explained:

‘I’ll say that it’s different for everyone … and you have to find what works for you … [maybe] you’re committed to each other and you’re married but then you guys decide every Friday night we’re going to swinger parties and that’s what we want to do, and that excitement is what brings us together, then awesome. But is it going to be for me? No. Am I going to say, you can’t do it? No.'”

Where is this idea coming from? We know the New York Times has been exploring it since at least 2011:

Although best known for his It Gets Better project, an archive of hopeful videos aimed at troubled gay youth, [Gay-rights activist Dan] Savage has for 20 years been saying monogamy is harder than we admit and articulating a sexual ethic that he thinks honors the reality, rather than the romantic ideal, of marriage. In Savage Love, his weekly column, he inveighs against the American obsession with strict fidelity. In its place he proposes a sensibility that we might call American Gay Male, after that community’s tolerance for pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements, from strict monogamy to wide openness.

What does it say about a culture when a growing number of couples see nothing wrong with taking other human beings, objectifying them, and then using them as nothing more than masturbatory devices?

Popular culture does not promote loving relationships — it promotes lusting relationships.

The spiritual fulfillment that comes when two adults have a proper understanding of marriage — and then they put in the effort to realize its potential — is unmatched. It takes patience, perseverance, humility, selfless sacrifice and a whole host of other virtues to arrive at the final destination, which is why “pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements” are peddled to the public instead.

Is it easier to act like an animal or act like an angel? The answer is self-evident.

Yes, it may bring “excitement” to act like a beast on occasion, but marriage was never meant to bring two beasts together. Marriage unites human souls, which is why perverting marriage’s proper definition and function is a travesty.

Here is what the modern American male is up against: On every level — physical, mental, and spiritual — there are forces at work to turn him into glorified cattle.

On the physical level he is encouraged to embrace sloth and gluttony; on the mental level he is encouraged to become a servant of the state; and on the spiritual level he is encouraged to become a libidinous pig who drags his wife into the muck.

True happiness can be found, but the path does not begin by taking directions from the purveyors of moral relativism.

Male ‘feminist’ tries to make the case for open marriage, spectacularly fails

NY Mag featured an op-ed by “feminist” Michael Sonmore on July 16 that I hope, on some level, is a piece of satire. Mr. Sonmore’s “What Open Marriage Taught One Man About Feminism” is one of the saddest things I’ve read in years.

The author, a stay-at-home dad, says in his first paragraph:

“She’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Paulo had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a feminist.”

If Mr. Sonmore’s understanding of modern feminism is correct, then modern feminism is a recipe for disaster.

As a Catholic man, I have vowed before God to give myself — 100 percent — in mind, body, and soul to my wife. She has done the same and we have become one unit. My responsibility is to love her with every fiber of my being, which demands that I always look out for her long-term interests. If I allowed my wife to objectify another human being and turn him into a living sex toy, then I would not be looking out for her spiritual health. If she allowed me to treat female coworkers as masturbatory slot machines, then there is no doubt my spirit would cry out in sorrow.

The author continues:

She didn’t present it as an issue of feminism to me, but after much soul-searching about why the idea of my wife having sex with other men bothered me I came to a few conclusions: Monogamy meant I controlled her sexual expression, and, not to get all women’s-studies major about it, patriarchal oppression essentially boils down to a man’s fear that a woman with sexual agency is a woman he can’t control.

Here again we find a man who doesn’t understand that marriage is not about “oppression” or “control” of one party over another, but a team effort to fully realize one’s mental, physical, and (most importantly) spiritual potential. The proper exercise of authority and control saves lives — and souls. I want my wife to demand that I strive for the kind of happiness that is only attained when one achieves mastery over his or her basest instincts. She expects the same from me.

It gets worse for Mr. Sonmore:

For my wife, the choice between honoring our vows and fulfilling her desires was a false choice, another trap. She knew how deep our love was, and knew that her wanting a variety of sexual experiences as we traveled through life together would not diminish or disrupt that love. It took me about six months — many long, intense conversations, and an ocean of red wine — before I knew it, too.

When my wife told me she wanted to open our marriage and take other lovers, she wasn’t rejecting me, she was embracing herself. When I understood that, I finally became a feminist.

Does a reader laugh or cry that it took the author “an ocean of red wine” to “know” his wife was right? His spirit cried out in protest; instead of listening, he poured an ocean of red wine down his throat to try and shut it up. And yet it still cries out to him, even if he can’t read between the lines of his own op-ed.

Would it be “patriarchal oppression” for a man with two children to forbid his wife from playing Russian Roulette? Of course not. Likewise, it takes a serious amount of self-delusion to believe that prohibiting the sexual equivalent of Russian Roulette is “oppression.”

Speaking of sexual Russian Roulette:

I never forget that my wife is a whole person unto herself, a complete and dynamic individual, and though we are together, we’re not one.

There are of course moments of jealousy, resentment, and insecurity. Recently, my wife went on a date and fell asleep at his apartment. I hadn’t heard from her since 10 p.m., she still wasn’t home at 6 a.m. My texts went unanswered and my calls went to voicemail. A tight knot of dread lodged in my stomach as I imagined all kinds of dire scenarios and realized that I not only didn’t know where she was, I had no idea whom she was with. I pictured myself going to the police saying, “I think she’s in Red Hook with a guy named Ryan. I don’t know his last name, but I think he’s a graphic designer? I’m not sure there’s actually a word for the unique blend of acute terror and unforgivable shame I felt that morning imagining that I’d lost my wife to Ryan, the maybe graphic designer.”

“We’re not one.” Again, that is where Mr. Sonmore is very wrong. If he or his wife realized and respected how spiritually entwined they are, then he would ironically never be put in a place where “a tight knot of dread” formed in his stomach.

Mr. Sonmore imagined himself saying to the cops, “I think she’s … with a guy named Ryan,” although he could have just as easily said “I think she’s with a man … named Jason Voorhees.”

How does Dear old Dad explain it to the kids when mom leaves the family for another man, mom contracts weird diseases, mom becomes pregnant with another man’s child, or mom winds up dead inside another man’s freezer? These are questions the happily married Catholic man will never have to ponder, and he is better for it.

When a male feminist has a wife who sleeps around and doesn't come home at night, he thinks that fear that she accidentally ended up with Jason Voorhees is a good thing. That fear means he isn't
When a male feminist has a wife who sleeps around and doesn’t come home at night, he thinks the fear that she accidentally ended up with Jason Voorhees is a good thing. That fear means he isn’t “controlling” his wife. That fear means he isn’t a part of the “patriarchal oppression” machine.  That fear somehow means his wife truly loves him. Sad.

And then there is this:

I don’t want her to fall in love with anyone else, and every time she goes on a date, I confront the possibility that she might. It happened at the beginning: The first person she dated after we opened up fell hard in love with her, and my wife, overwhelmed by his ardor, tried to love him back. Watching it happen, I was confused, angry, and terrified that she wanted to leave me.

Imagine a marriage where confusion, anger, and terror were always looming over your head at night. It would not be heavenly — it would be hell.

There is a reason why Catholics pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” That is because evil exists, and the surest way to find yourself in a confusing, anger-filled terror-tunnel of your own making is to have a marriage where giving into all forms of sexual temptation is defined as “freedom.”

If you get a chance, then pray for Mr. Sonmore and his wife. They need it.

Related: Clueless sociologists writing on marriage should read the Bible — or watch Pacific Rim

Ten tips for a stable relationship

There are only so many national security threats a blogger can cover before he needs to create something a bit more uplifting. Valentine’s Day is over, but it’s never too late to go over tips to a successful relationship.

Douglasernstblog.com has never given out such a list, but there’s a first time for everything. Since I’ve been with the same woman for roughly 13 years (with only a few hiccups along the way), I will now give you one recipe for a healthy relationship.

  • Never swear at your significant other. I have often seen couples who will turn towards “asshole” and “bitch” when they’re angry. They say it doesn’t mean anything, but quite frankly it does. It means a lot. No matter how angry you may get at your significant other, it sends a powerful message if you never go down the rout of expletive-laced tirades.
  • Communication. Communication. Communication. This may sound like common sense, but it’s one that everyone — everyone — falls short of on occasion. Think about how many problems could be squashed if we would just be direct and honest with our significant other instead of letting poisonous thoughts swirl around inside our head until they manifest into arguments. A little communication with a lot of tact goes a long way.
  • Your job is not to fundamentally change your significant other. Political junkies will remember the time President Obama said he planned to fundamentally change America. Note: You do not try to fundamentally change something or someone you love. If you see your significant other as a “project” that needs to be fundamentally changed, then you probably should not be in a relationship with that person. People change, but their “core” self (i.e., spirit) is incredibly stable. If you find yourself trying to change your partner’s core traits, then something is probably wrong — with you.
  • Consciously work on growing together so you do not grow apart. If you’ve ever watched ivy growing up a wall (e.g., Chicago’s Wrigley Field), you’ll notice how it can twist and turn and overlap. You and your significant other will change over time, but in many ways you should grow like ivy: you should be separate, but one. Sometimes people fall in love with a very specific person at a very specific moment in time, and then seem to want to keep that person physically, mentally, and spiritually frozen in that moment forever. It doesn’t work. That is why it is important that you fall in love with the “core” or “root” of a person instead of the outer branches of their personality. If you don’t realize that the person you fell in love with at 20 may have many different interests at 30, then you will be in for some painful days down the road.
  • Don’t hold grudges. This is easier said than done for a lot of people, but it’s extremely important. If you can’t “wipe the slate clean” relatively quickly, then it will cause a lot of unnecessary suffering. People do stupid things. Sometimes they almost wreck your car. Sometimes they forget to pay bills. Sometimes they make insensitive comments. If you live in the past, then your present and your future will pay the price.
  • It’s not always about you. If you have always identified with the Peanuts character Lucy van Pelt, there’s a good chance that you will have some rocky romances before finally realizing that a pinch of “Linus” makes relationships run much more smoothly. There is a difference between having a “take charge” attitude and being a bossy jerk. Most people get bossed around at work. The last thing they want is to be ordered around when they come home at night.
  • Stick to your principles. No one likes a push-over. If someone knows your principles, then they may get irritated from time-to-time when a situation demands that you stand firm, but deep down they’ll respect you. You don’t have to have bulging biceps to have a spine of steel — women respect men with backbone.
  • Demand excellence at all times — from yourself. If you are your own toughest critic, then there is a good chance your significant other will never “nag” you. If you exude excellence, then it makes no sense for those around you to harp on the little things — you’ll have already taken care of them.
  • Employ random acts of kindness. Besides the fact that random acts of kindness make you less predictable (in a good way), this sort of behavior has a way of “infecting” the person targeted so that they return the favor. Random acts of kindness create a positive feedback loop that is hard to reverse.
  • Say “I love you” regularly. This may sound strange at first. In fact, your significant other may even sigh with exasperation — but do not relent! If you truly mean it, then they will never get tired of hearing you say those three words. You can never truly love someone too much, but you can definitely love a soul too little. If you exclaim your love every day, then it will yield enormous benefits for years to come.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. These ten tips are simply a few of the things that have helped me sustain a relationship with my girlfriend (now wife) for over a decade. If I’ve left anything out, then feel free to add to it in the comments section below. If you have any questions, then feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

Take a few minutes to read Joan Marans Dim’s ‘A Decade of Goodbye’ — it’s worth it

It’s hard to really live until we come to terms with death. Many people spend their entire life running from it, but one way or another the conversation will be had. If you had five minutes left to live, who would you call and what would you say to them?

Because none of us know whether we have fives minutes or five days or fifty years left on our clock, it’s a good idea to regularly treat our loved ones as if we knew our passing was close at hand.

If you’re not someone who has seriously thought about death, reading Joan Marans Dim’s ‘A Decade of Goodbye,’ will likely prompt you to do so.

Here is just an excerpt from ‘A Decade of Goodbye,’ but I suggest reading the entire piece.

He has never let me tend to his most personal needs, but today he willingly sits on the corner of our bed as I help him disrobe. His entire body is jaundiced. I soap a sponge, gather towels and wash him. The moment is intimate, a rarity for us. I massage his back, chest, arms and legs with moisturizer.

“That feels so good,” he murmurs.

Joan Didion never had such a moment, I think.

I dress him, and he asks for his walker. But I am not finished. I want to comb his hair. In 52 years of marriage, I have never combed his hair.

“O.K.,” he says. And smiles.

I am meticulous in this act of grooming. Then I step back and study him.

“You look handsome,” I say, and mean it.

Beautiful. It’s hard to read such passages without trying to fast forward life in your own mind to try and see how your own final moments will play out with family, friends and loved ones.

As I read ‘A Decade of Goodbye’ I couldn’t help but think of Pearl Jam’s newest single, Sirens: “It’s a fragile thing, this life we live.”

Clueless sociologists writing on marriage should read the Bible — or watch Pacific Rim

Since sociologists who write on marriage are too lazy (or afraid) to address the religious aspect to the institution, perhaps they would learn something from watching 'Pacific Rim' this summer. Just think of the 'mind meld' as something you'd find close Mark 10:8.
Since sociologists who write on marriage for the New York Times are too lazy (or afraid) to address the religious and spiritual aspects of the institution, perhaps they could learn something from watching ‘Pacific Rim’ this summer. They could just think of the ‘mind meld’ as something they’d find around Mark 10:8.

Andrew J. Cherlin is a sociologist and the author of ‘The Marriage-Go Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today.’ He’s apparently studied marriage for three decades, which is sad because he doesn’t seem to have learned very much over the years.

Amazon.com’s plug for the new book reads:

Andrew J. Cherlin’s three decades of study have shown him that marriage in America is a social and political battlefield in a way that it isn’t in other developed countries. Americans marry and divorce more often and have more live-in partners than Europeans, and gay Americans have more interest in legalizing same-sex marriage. The difference comes from Americans’ embrace of two contradictory cultural ideals: marriage, a formal commitment to share one’s life with another; and individualism, which emphasizes personal choice and self-development. Religion and law in America reinforce both of these behavioral poles, fueling turmoil in our family life and heated debate in our public life.

Wrong. Marriage and individualism are only “contradictory cultural ideals” in the world of clueless sociologist clowns writing pseudo-intellectual psycho-babble in the Opinion section of the New York Times.

Here’s an excerpt from Cherlin’s NYT’s piece, which oddly enough never mentions the words ‘God’ or ‘love’ once:

IT’S surprising how many people still marry. As everyone knows, it’s a risky proposition; the divorce rate, though down from its peak of one in two marriages in the early 1980s, remains substantial. Besides, you can have a perfectly respectable life these days without marrying. …

Marriage has become a status symbol — a highly regarded marker of a successful personal life. This transformed meaning is evident in the Obama administration’s briefs in the two same-sex marriage cases now in front of the Supreme Court. Those documents reflect, in part, the assumption that marriage represents not only a bundle of rights but also a privileged position. …

In the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Justice Department wrote that marriage “confers a special validation of the relationship between two individuals and conveys a message to society that domestic partnerships or civil unions cannot match.” …

Today, marriage is more discretionary than ever, and also more distinctive. It is something young adults do after they and their live-in partners have good jobs and a nice apartment. It has become the capstone experience of personal life — the last brick put in place after everything else is set. People marry to show their family and friends how well their lives are going, even if deep down they are unsure whether their partnership will last a lifetime.

How is it possible to write an entire op-ed on marriage and not mention the words ‘love’ or ‘God’ once? As of 2010, roughly 75 million Catholics live in the United States, and yet no mention of God, Mr. Cherlin? Gallup found that as of 2012, 77% of Americans identify with a Christian religion, and yet no mention of God, Mr. Cherlin? I suppose it’s much easier to redefine marriage when one takes any mention of God out of the equation and replaces religious elements with words like “status symbol” and “capstone,” but one would think that academics with an agenda would hide their tracks a little easier. The smart kid who cheats on his spelling test always gets a few wrong on purpose because a 100% by a kid who has never shown he was capable of delivering such a score is mighty fishy. In short, Mr. Cherlin is probably not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.

But I digress. Back to the issue at hand, which is that marriage and individualism are not contradictory in the least. The astute reader will realize that there is another word missing from Cherlin’s opinion piece: ‘compromise.’

It is entirely possible for two people to embrace individualism while also being 100% dedicated to another person. The two are not mutually exclusive, and anyone who understands the nature of compromise knows the two can coexist.

Since Mr. Cherlin is afraid to touch the Bible, I will. Mark 10:6 – 10:9 reads:

“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together let no man separate.”

Again, perhaps I’m just a rube, but if tens of millions of Americans draw some sort of basic understanding about the nature of marriage from the Bible, it might be worth maybe-sorta-kinda looking into it. Just a thought.

Regardless, my point stands: On the most important level, I do not view myself as a separate entity from my wife because we are spiritually tied together. We are spiritually one. And so, it would make no sense for me to not try and aid her in reaching her full potential, just as I’m sure she feels the same way about me and my long-term goals.

If I were to lash out and hurt my wife, I would be hurting myself. If I was to cause her unnecessary emotional distress, it would ultimately be my own spirit that was damaged. There is no reason for me to work at odds with my wife because it would be similar to me picking up something with my left hand and then slapping it out with my right. It would make no sense.

Mr. Cherlin’s refusal to try and understand what individualism is to a man and a woman who see themselves as spiritually one unit hurts him. It’s a very complex subject, which is another reason why I suspect he avoided it all together.

With that said, I might still buy ‘The Marriage-Go Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today,’ if for no other reason than to make me laugh.

And since this blog is supposed to mix politics with pop culture, here’s another analogy for marriage: the “mind meld” from Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. For sociologists who are too scared to study the Bible, it’s a dumbed-down version of two essentially becoming one.

Why would Obama, the ‘first gay president,’ need to pupate?

Newsweek has called President Obama ‘the first gay president.’ If that’s true, why would he have to pupate like some sort of strange insect from anti-gay larva into a gay-friendly butterfly?

Newsweek has declared Barack Obama “The first gay president.” Really? How on earth could a straight man, who describes his metamorphosis on the subject of gay marriage as if he was some larval form of insect that needed to pupate, earn such a distinction? Barack Obama, who “evolved” over the course of decades into “the first gay president,” is most certainly not the first gay president.

Any serious reporter needs to ask the president one question: “Do you believe gay sex is a sin?” If his answer is “yes,” then someone needs to ask Newsweek how they came to the conclusion that a gay president could look at gay men and have one of the first thoughts that swirls though his head be ‘sinner.’

If the answer is “no,” then he has some more explaining to do to the black community, particularly the pastors he relies on for support. In fact, a good reporter would also ask President Obama another question: Your campaign released an attack ad on Mitt Romney that labeled him as “backwards” for his stance on gay marriage — one that you held only days ago. If Mitt Romney is “backwards,” does that also mean that the segments of the black community that feel the same way are”backwards”?

If the president and the media want to talk about how great he is on gay rights, let’s really have a conversation. We can start with the president’s own words:

“I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue. … I hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient … and I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word ‘marriage’ was something that evokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs and so forth. But I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I talked to friends and family and neighbors —  when I think about  members of my own staff who are incredibly committed in monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together — … at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

What is marriage, Mr. President? Define marriage. Is marriage just some sort of formal recognition that two people love each other and want to be together for the rest of their lives, or is it something more? Why does the institution exist? Why was this particular union — one between a man and a woman — codified and held in such high esteem across so many cultures for so many generations? What is it about such a union that makes its traditional definition so important to so many societies?

The president never talks about that, you’ll notice. Worse, Robin Roberts is such a hack that she never even bothers to ask the president to explain in more detail why marriage “evokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.” She doesn’t do that because to dissect what marriage really means would then expose the truth: To change the definition of marriage is to destroy the institution of marriage, since the primary purpose is to make sacrosanct the bond between a man and a woman. The reason for that is because only a man and a woman can come together to form new life, and the healthiest environment for that new life is for it to be in a loving, caring relationship with its biological mother and father.

That is a fact that cuts across religions and cultures. You can be an atheist and the same truth holds true. That is the ideal. That is what we should all aim for, and it is important enough that an institution was created to honor and encourage and nurture it. Too mess with that equation is to open a Pandora’s Box of social ills, and for proof we need to look no further than the welfare state and the decimation of the family unit since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society.

You are not the first gay president, Mr. Obama. You never were and you never will be.

Update: Newsweek has an alternate cover. Head on over to Hotair to check out their response.

Why Marriage Matters

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.