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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Is This the New Definition of Marriage?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Is This the New Definition of Marriage?

Last May a favorite Aunt of mine passed away, just after her 60th wedding anniversary.  I had the opportunity to spend some time with her before she died.  I asked her what she thought the secret was to such a long and resilient marriage.   Of course many have answered this question in many different ways, (and for some New Year's comic relief, check this out).  But my Auntie told me that if she had to narrow it down to one or two things, it would be that she and her husband were never mean to each other even when they felt like being mean to each other, and that when they had a big disagreement (which they often did) they would get into the car and drive to the parking lot of the local library and talk until they came to some compromise.

It can't (and most often is not) be that simple.  I have been asking around a bit lately to learn what people believe is the new or current (if there is one) definition of what marriage is (not what it should be, or what you'd like it to be, though that certainly counts) but what does it seem to be these days.

One answer I got was this:  "Marriage today in America is two people who reside together without much or any sex, very little emotional connection and a lot of unexpressed or badly expressed frustrations and disappointments, who go through the motions because some part of them does not want to be totally alone, leave the kids, have to rework the finances or the living arrangements and cannot really fathom how something different would come to be.  At least after awhile that's what it becomes."

How sad is that, I was thinking.  And yet I know it to be true for a lot of folks, in varying degrees.  But I would like to think that we have not accepted that definition as a given.  I would like to think, and I do, that we can have something different, something enduring and meaningful and connective.  True and satisfying love and partnership.

We do not have to accept the above definition of what of marriage is.  And while I think that many folks have, perhaps, unrealistic expectations of marriage at times, I think we can have better inner lives, better marriages and some real syncranicity between the two.  We do have to keep tending to our emotional health, because if we don't, then we may very well be defining our inner lives poorly as well.

I'm not necessarily a New Year's Resolution kind of person, but it is a time for reflection and perhaps redefinition of our selves and I think, yet another opportunity to expand our choices and move forward.

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