September 5, 2005

stairwell accompaniment:Over the Rhine-The World Can Wait

What’s so good about marriage?

I ask in all sincerity, though qualifying the predicate adjective “good” with the adverb “so” might make you think otherwise; that, or explaining the grammatical situation might make you think that I need to take it easy. You would do well to consider both items. But for now, let’s pretend that I ask as a sincere collective rather than as a cynic. Let’s try “healthy skepticism.”

I will make a request up front. Please, do not preface or qualify the good. Please do not begin with something like “Well, it’s not perfect” or “When you have two sinners” or “It’s hard.” I appreciate the intent, but just this once, assume that I know these things, assume that the 200 people before you instructed me with this kind of temperance and sobriety. Assume that every sermon and Bible study and testimonial I’ve ever heard on marriage has filled me with caveat, so full sometimes that they’ve left little room for else, so many sirens and alarms that I can’t remember whether I should be running toward shelter or storm.

I’ve talked to a lot of people about marriage in the last few years, most of them in their 20’s, and the response has been overwhelmingly laced with cynicism rather than healthy questioning. I’m sure the reason is far too complicated for me to discern, but, assuming that my experience isn’t unique, surely one of the factors is that we’re not hearing enough good news. Christian or not, it sounds like the well-meaning married are focused on being realistic about the difficulties of marriage to the degree that they sometimes forget to talk about the not-difficulties, about the ransoming. Man, I’ve heard so many warnings, so many qualifications, so much theology and philosophy of conflict and purging and sanctification-by-fire, so much that my gut response has become to question whether the pay-off is worth the unavoidable risk involved in marriage. Sometimes, I just want my friends to offer some unabashedly good news. I want stories! I want you to assume that I’ve heard the bad and that I’ll hear it again and that I understand why that’s necessary!

What’s so good about marriage? And in answering, the married speak carefully, relatively, making sure, with good intention, that I understood that marriage isn’t easy, isn’t what anyone thinks it will be, isn’t this, isn’t that, isn’t those. “Thank you,” I said, but I would really like to know what’s “good.” “Oh, yes,” they said, “let’s try again.” God bless them, they really cared, and they really were trying, but more warnings.

If you feel tempted to answer the same way, maybe you do so because you think I’m cynical, that I’m armed and ready to answer your gushings and blushings and declarings of good tidings with “yes-but”s and “but-really”s and “well”s. Friend, I will not. Just this once, let us lay down our good intentions and be uncomfortably happy, and as a sign of good faith concerning my desire, let me be the first to be unabashedly cheesy! Right now, I really do want to hear words like “soul-mate” and “orgasmic” and “intimacy” and, get this, “growing old together.” And I wouldn’t mind a little emotion. Let’s not use these methods forever, but just this once, when you answer the question “What’s so good about marriage,” I really would like to hear what’s so good.

So, for the record: I love the idea of marriage. I want to marry. I have no substantial truck with institutions as institutions. I understand that marriage will be difficult as long as there are people involved. I know that I have no idea how difficult it will be. I believe that marriage is good and that my potential marriage can be good. I believe that the wisdom of elders is for me, but those elders better have some good news for me. Risk and trust are unavoidable. It’s better for everyone that I didn’t write the Bible. Gratitude comes first, commitment second, Leviticus third. And I reserve the right to amend this after I am called married.


4 Responses to “sunburnt”

  1. Stacie said

    I love being married! I have the greatest husband, who loves driving me to work in the morning (long storty) even though it means only a couple hours of sleep sometimes. Who else but your husband would say, “I don’t mind getting up early and spending 3 hours in the car a day, just so I get an extra 1.5 hours a day with you,”? My husband does this and cooks me dinner, because he knows how wiped out and braindead I am after 12.5+ hours of work a day. I love playing hooky from church just to stay in bed with my husband all morning long (practicing our spiritual discipline, you know). I love throwing huge and small parties at our house, working as a team to bring it together, each of us falling into the natural rhythm of our self-appointed roles at each event. I love that we’re always a team. We’re never alone in life, we always have each other. He’s my biggest cheerleader and fan and I’m his. He’s the one I want to spend the majority of my time with, the first one I want to call with news–good or bad, because he’ll know just how to respond. Oh, and did I mention how much I love kissing him whenever and however I want to? I love the kissing part. I love that we both love being married and tell each other that all the time. He’s the only other person, besides my old roommate, who will roadtrip with me on a moments notice and he gets more excited than I do! We can spend hours in the car together, going anywhere and nowhere and have the best day listening to music, reading aloud to each other, planning random stops (like the Cheese Factory), and of course eating. He eats all my random food and puts up with my mess! Even my family doesn’t do that. 🙂 All-in-all, I think marriage is the best decision I’ve ever made.

  2. ambrosia said

    Oh Stacie dear!! You fill my heart with so much joy! I knew I could count on you to share your life of deep appreciation and love. This is what I want to hear…this is what I want to have!

    More people, more…respond!

  3. Anonymous said

    Thank you for honesty in questioning! I too have only heard the warnings from everyone except my parents who told me that if they had to do it all again they wouldn’t do anything different. I love the “team”, knowing that at the end of the day no matter how bad things were, or how much of it was your fault, when you get home there is somebody there who no matter what is in your corner! How about the way my heart still skips a beat when I see her name appear on my cell phone. Who in the world can say anything negative about being excepted by someone for who you are, YOU with all of your idiosyncracies…exceptance…it’s wonderful. I love being in a social setting and being able to just tell what she’s thinking by looking at her. And discovering what Love is, the meaning gets broader every day, you can actually say that Love is deep. Knowing that all those “warnings” you got from everyone can be faced together. Forgetting what you’ve been told and just living it out with her is a journey like no other. God is good, God knows what’s best. Of course that’s my oppinion and I am right this time. No one can argue with personal experience.

  4. Kristi said

    Awesome post, Amber. Lots of good stuff in those comments. Also, check out Jody’s blog, she has some good points, too =o)

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