I’m on a roadtrip with my friends Barb and Paul. We’re winding around the mid-west with their new RV as our focus. We’re proving to be persistent hunters. It’s proving to be a bit elusive! There have been problems to solve, but we’re going to the source.
This has been a wonderful journey for a newly wed and a wedding priestess. Here they are with all these very real obstacles: you can’t ride in a motor home in your wheel chair if you can’t lock in; it’s hot; handicapped accessible rooms that aren’t; they’re both tired from a lot of traveling, barb’s pain-level hovers constantly near intolerable, and obtw, this camping thing is something they’re excited about, but will have lots of challenges. All of their skills are being tested. And you know what? They’re thriving.
They get nervous, they find a solution. So far, I haven’t seen those solutions include flare-ups between them. They have different skill sets, different levels of curiousity about different things. And they’re coping. They’re holding on to the dream of how exciting it is and making it all work. And when we get back into the car to go to the next place they’re laughing and affectionate.
Now I know them, I know they’re human. I’m sure there are gripes and snipes that they’re not sharing with me (another learning point!) But this project has been by starts and turns exciting, disappointing, worrying, overwhelming. And they’re having an adventure. And they’re doing it all with me there.
It’s a privilege. and it’s funner than lots of things I’ve done recently!
Tip: there’s no reason to take your stress out on one another. Solving problems can make you happy and better connected. And going off on adventures is a great way to build and polish your skill set — and have a great time! This is marriage building! Try it, you’ll like it!
OK, we didn’t cruise, we weren’t there on Sunday and most of you probably don’t know that old familiar tune anyway. But SweetPea and I dashed off for some decompression this weekend. We stayed at the Bridgeton House in Upper Black Eddy, PA. It was fabulous. Looking to relax? Here’s your spot. It’s easy to rent kayaks and tubes and simply float on the river. It’s also easy to sit on your back porch and simply gaze at the life that floats by. (It’s a fabulous place for breakfast and they offer a tea in the late afternoon as well. yum. Gets you ready for dinner at the Oyster House across the river in New Jersey!)
Tip: There literature says that this was the perfect place to become engaged. I can imagine. It was also a fairly lovely place to remember how much we love one another in a slow and lazy way. Bridgeton House may not be your style or your geographic region… but there’s a special place near you where two days feels like a whole holiday! Go find it. You’ll be glad you did!
Ah, Soul Mates. The world loves to talk about soul mates. We love to feel as if there is another person out there who, when at last we meet, will complete us.
- Problem: We only complete ourselves. We need to be whole human beings. Our partners can be wonderful complements to who we are and incredible companions, but it’s unfair to burden them with the job of fulfilling our destiny.
- Another Problem: I often think we look for soul mates when we’re floundering about in our problems. Anything and anyone outside our lives looks to have great answers. Hello, Governor Sanford, I’m talking to you.
- And one last problem: If we determine that a particular person is our soul mate, the minute something goes wrong, we have to demonize them. And infatuation causes us to see only the grand things. Living day-by-day causes us to see the whole person, who however wonderful, is always going to squeeze the toothpaste from the middle, or something equally annoying.
I’ll ponder for a while about whether I think we become soul mates, or whether we might just as well find a new term to describe a beloved partner with whom we’ve grown into accord. Wow, I know, how about beloved partner?
Tip: Am I crazy? what do you think? write and let me know!
There’s one last area that will build community support for your marriage:
Your Post Wedding Behavior!
Offer your community opportunities to participate in your life. Plan parties and picnics and work projects. Make them a piece of who you are and what you do.
And then, let people understand how you’re living into your vows by the way you deal with one another. People are seduced by couples who treat one another with respect and affection. Do things you enjoy doing together and revel in one another’s company. Keep finding new things you like doing. Or perfect the old things!
Tip: Your community really wants you to succeed at your marriage. Why not let them help? Help them help you by showing them what a great relationship you are growing and nurturing.
The image you chose as a metaphor
8. should support the wedding vows you are making.
You don’t need to have it in the vows, but the picture the image offers helps everyone to understand why you are offering those specific promises.
Your vows should be written from your strengths, values and talents. They should shore up those areas of your relationship that are not perhaps inately your best talents. Your metaphor should help everyone envision the work you are undertaking. It should be a talisman throughout the years to remind you of the work you are doing… and the joy you have in making these commitments.
Tip: The stronger the identification you can make with a metaphor, and the more frequently the image appears in your life, the more support it will offer your marriage. It will also remind your community to support you whenever they see the image show up and they make the connection to your promises to one another.
The image of a metaphor is strengthened if
7. it is somewhat common.
You want to reinforce the notion that love is ubiquitous and that your relationship thrives in the every day. Marriage, after all is an every day activity. The metaphor you choose to illustrate your love in your wedding ceremony should be frequently encountered.
If something is too exotic in your life, then your chances of encountering it are slimmer. You loose the reinforcement that common activities offer. So using an image that involves the life-cycle of a camel if you live in Rhode Island, even if it can be made gloriously beautiful, is not going to provide the daily reinforcement that the tides of the sea or the changing of the seasons might.
Tip: Choose a metaphor to describe your relationship that has value and frequency in your life. Then it can be something more than poetic beauty, it can be a marital aid.
Metaphors work best
6. When there is an activity that accompanies it.
Food you eat, things you plant, water you spill out. These allow the image to settle in more deeply.
The more common the images, the more they will be reinforced in our daily lives. The more they’re reinforced in our daily lives, the greater the meaninng they will have in our marriages.
Tip: choose a metaphor to describe your love that can be reinforced with a small activity. Use it in your wedding ceremony. For 3 weeks afterwards, do the action and think of the way you love one another. There you are, with your love for one another sealed into the sharing of bread, for the rest of your life.
What else is going to make a metaphor able to support you as time goes on?
5. The image should be comfortable.
You want an image that will settle into your hearts and psyches and provide an a continual glow to renew your connection with your wedding day.
Metaphors that work are simple, attractive and don’t unsettle you. They should invite you. If your love is like a warm blanket, then every time you and your beloved get into bed and pull a particular blanket up over you, perhaps a coverlet you received as part of your wedding gifts, you’re reinforcing the image you generated at your wedding. All of the blessings of the marriage bed are in that simple action of pulling up the covers.
Tip: Find an image to use that will serve you into the life of your marriage. Choose a metaphor that will become more rather than less comfortable. Something that will wear in, rather than out, as it gets more use.
It’s frustrating that with our emphasis on the importance of the wedding, we fail to understand that marriages are made day by day. Sure, in your wedding ceremony you announce your vows. But really, these are promises you’ve been working out over the span of your relationship. They will continue to transform and become more clear and more useful along with the relationship.
But something else is true about vows:
Promises are something you make and keep every day. Your wedding day is simply the start of your promise-making. Everyday is the day you agree to the importance of these vows. Every day is the day you decide to make your marriage happy and healthy.
Tip: If you understand that your promises are a work in progress, that every day when you roll over in bed to greet your beloved, that you are recommiting to marriage, your marriage will be richer. Every day you have the opportunity to do what is right for you, right for your partner and right for your partnership. It’s up to you: are you going to guard your promises and work hard at loving, honoring, cherishing and respecting. I hope so. No reason not to make your marriage a work of art and love.
The old saw, “Love means never having to say I’m sorry,” has pretty much been consigned to the trash heap along with the rest of the rusty notions about relationship. The fact is good relationship thrives on each partner’s ability to be self reflective. Here’s what that means with regard to your wedding vows:
That you will recognize, admit, repent and make amends to transgressions, both large and small of those vows.
Being able to say “oh, I could have done that differently, I’m sorry if my actions hurt you” is an incredibly important activity in a marriage. Obviously, there are times, when transgressions are larger, that you will need more than an ‘aw shucks, honey, I didn’t mean not to listen (when you said it hurt you that I was having an affair!), but even when you blow past the intentions of your promises, you want to reconsider and recommit to their value in your life.
I found someone to agree with me as I was running past twitter on my way over here: Lonnie Hodge: “I think true integrity lies in the ability to express remorse –especially when there is nothing to gain except the truth.” But in marriage what there is to gain is a great relationship.
Tip: Keep your marriage vows close to your heart and your mind. You know it’s not always the big ways we offend our vows that breaks them down. It’s the tiny little slights and indifferences. How well do you cherish your partner? How does that reflect on you? Do you want to be a person who doesn’t keep your vows, who doesn’t cherish your partner? No. you don’t. So, you want to do your work here!