What Is Marriage For?

"Dearly Beloved, we have gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Cindy and Paul*.... And now, the vows:

Paul: Cindy, I promise to feign interest in what you say while not really caring. I promise to be kind to our future children, but only be involved so long as you force the issue. I promise to only talk badly about you when you can't hear me. I promise to hold silent grudges for years at a time, only speaking my mind when I am so furiously angry that I can only scream hateful things. I promise to love you in "name" but not in deed.

Cindy: Paul, I promise to make passive-agressive remarks to you in front of our friends and family. I promise to ignore your sexual desires and needs until you give up. I promise to only keep some secrets. I promise to be bored by you and give up trying to connect. I promise to love you in "name" but not in deed."

Ouch, I hate even writing those words. They pain me. But I've got a point today and I'm going to make it directly: We care too much about the contract of marriage, and not enough about the heart of it.

In my work, I have seen people spend years and even decades in a loveless marriage. They gave up long ago. Their hearts have grown cold and the distance between them is infinite. Yet they ask me to: save their marriage. Translation- 'keep us from the shame, expense, and burden of divorce'.

And I have to say- "Are you even married now?" You look at your lifelong partner and lover, and only see cold distance. You are lonely in your own marriage. You fantasize about life apart. You burden your children and loved ones with the tension you've gotten used to. Is this the marriage you signed up for? Is this what you pictured on your wedding day?

It is time we stopped seeing a marriage as "saved" because two people remained legally married, and start seeing a "saved" marriage as a caring, loving, committed, trusting, connected partnership.

Ask yourself this: if my marriage stayed exactly as it is now for the rest of my life, would I be okay with that? And if your answer is "no!" then might I recommend you look into marriage enrichment now.... and not only when the piece of paper is on the line? Let's find the urgency and passion you once had for your marriage.

Life is so short... why not spend it with your best friend and partner?

ps- I'll be writing about "Can My Marriage Be Saved?"  next... stay tuned!

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