After last night.

6 Mar
I was listening to an episode of This American Life recently, and the topic of conversation between the guest and host, Ira Glass, turned to marriage.
The guest said that he and his wife/partner are not married in the traditional sense; rather, they commit themselves to each other for set periods of five years and then, at the end of that period, they decide whether to commit themselves to each other again, or to walk away.
The guest thought that this arrangement was incredibly romantic; that it honored the idea of choice, and the fact that each person made the repeated choice to stay in the relationship was the ultimate expression of love.
Ira said that he quite disagreed; that he, married in the traditional sense, took great comfort in the vows of marriage, in the promise of forever that they held. It gave him comfort to know that he and his wife can disagree and have very off-days, but they both know at the end of it that they are committed to the relationship, that they are in it forever.
My story isn’t unique, but I think I still haven’t dealt with it in its entirety, and I hadn’t realized how angry I still was until last night.
My parents got divorced after being married somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 years. They are both extremely religious; my dad teaches at a Presbyterian college, my mom attended seminary and worked for years with the church. They both promised me, repeatedly as I grew up, that they would never get divorced.
And, they did.
My mom got remarried first, to a man very active in the Mormon church. He had been married before as well, and they both took dating each other, blending families, and considering how religion would affect their marriage, very seriously. The vows were hugely important to them. They got divorced within three years. It was devastating to me how quickly it all fell apart.
My dad recently got remarried, extremely quickly and without warning, and jumped into a new family.
I can’t blindly/simply trust in the vows of marriage anymore.
But I do have high hopes for them, I do believe in them, I do plan on marrying A and staying with him forever.
I do definitely hope for and believe in the long commitment that Ira talked about above. And I do believe that the act of making our vows at our wedding strengthens the foundation for a long love like that, and is an important and definite commitment to a life like that.
A and I also feel like we’ve already built and already trust in that foundation; that we are already fully committed to each other.
I don’t think that makes the vows any less important.
I am really excited about taking those vows, about formally binding ourselves together.
I believe that we also want to have a very Godly marriage, but the ways in which we’ve seen this publicly expressed sometimes seem small.
I feel this way:
In one of his novels, J.D. Salinger writes, “…He was a nice man, and he kept in beautiful touch with his God, and all that — but that’s exactly the point. He had to keep in touch. Jesus realized there is no separation from God.”
And in one of his poems, Hafiz writes: “At / some point / your relationship / With God / will / become like this: / Next time you meet Him in the forest / Or on a crowded city street / There won’t be anyone / “Leaving.” / That is, / God will climb into / your pocket. / You will simply just take / Yourself / Along!”
I feel that God is a part of everything, is everywhere. An excerpt we read last night seemed, to me, to espouse an act of turning to a God who was separate and had left, and asking Him to come back and help. The whole thing took on a very diminutive and singsong attitude towards God.
There is a story that A and I have heard frequently, and talk about frequently.
A man is stranded on the roof of a house, and flood waters are swelling up around him.
Another man in a canoe paddles by, and asks if he can carry the stranded man to safety. The stranded man says back, “No, its ok, God will come and rescue me.”
A helicopter flys overhead, and yells down to the man, asking if they can lift him to safety. The stranded man says, “No, its ok, God will come and rescue me.”
A third man on a larger boat comes by, and asks if he can take the stranded man to shore. The stranded man refuses, says, “God will come and rescue me.”
The man drowns. In heaven, he asks God, why didn’t you come save me?
God laughs, and says that He tried to send three different people to try and save him, but the man had refused them all.
I feel like a lot of couples who loudly proclaim that they are turning to God to save their marriage have already missed the three boats/helicopters.
I think God, in life and also in marriage, is in the quiet moments in between.
I am overwhelmed by the idea of marriage, the idea that someone could choose to be with me for the rest of their lives! It is amazing!
And surely the grace and love that that requires comes from God.
In Life of Pi, Yann Martel writes, “If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”
It is really hard to believe in the vows of marriage. But I do believe in them, and hope for them, and will make them wholeheartedly to A, and know that he will make them wholeheartedly to me.

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