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(Once again, on my soapbox back in the 1980s, when I thought all marriages could be saved.  My position now is more flexible.  We should try, but some of us don't succeed.)

"God is love, and you who remains in love remains in God and God remains in you." (John's First Epistle, 4:16)

No wonder Paul calls love the greatest of all virtues in First Corinthians, 13.

But can it survive?

Can married love survive when we're all bombarded with stories and gossip about extra-marital affairs, selfishness and other sicknesses attacking marriage today?

If God is love, maybe we had better take another look at it in our lives.  Love is the only emotion that can create new life...a life that is truly a combination of the two joined by love ...by God.

Yet daily, our courts in the United States are filled with person, victims of dead loves, or so they say.

When love dies, it's like taking a priceless work of art and deliberately smashing it upon the hot concrete below.

One of God's greatest gifts to his children is love, because God is Love personally.  Through experiencing a man-woman love in our own lives, we can understand just who great God really is.

Love is the sunrise of the day, the Christmas of the year.  It's the best of what life has to offer --- the dessert of the meal --- better yet, it's the main course of life!

And love can only be a full love if it's a COMMITTED love.  Love exists within life.  Life isn't always easy, and so at times, love becomes difficult, too.

There are long absences, temptations, human failings, misunderstandings.  But rather than let these things destroy love, it should be love that cures, binds, builds and relieves the pain --- and is made stronger itself in the process.

In his book, Faith for Personal Crisis, theologian Carl Michalson accuses modern society as being polygamous.  The 1981 World Almanac recorded a record 1,184,000 American marriages ended in divorce from mid-1979 to the mid-1980s.

The only difference between us and the more primitive polygamous societies is that we go through mates one at a time, instead of remaining with many at once.

As one preacher remarked, "Divorce has become as American as hot dogs, ice cream and Coke."  However, many of us still see marriage as a special covenant bringing together in a special commitment --- man, woman and God.

We're each inter-related.  Each man's personality and uniqueness is intertwined with the other two.  It's like three strings, starting out side by side, but then all molded together into a ball.  Trying to separate the strings then becomes very difficult indeed.

That doesn't mean efforts aren't made to separate.

Society itself imposes a need to really KNOW yourself --- to find your own place in life --- to "do your own thing."

"Don't let anyone manipulate you."

"Stand up for your rights."

"Everyone pull his or her own weight."

"Contribute the same."

The list continues with even more individual rights.

But what about individual responsibilities for making marriage --- and the binding love within --- work?  We'll examine that later.

Another sad thing tearing the strings apart is not a thing but a person.  It's the infamous "other man" or "other woman."

This is what a great number of songs, books and moves are about.  See Middle Age Crazies, The seduction of Joe Tynan, 10.  Listen to Sad Eyes, Torn Between Two Lovers, If Loving you is Wrong, just for starters.

Themes in these movies and songs make the subject of extra-marital affairs so complicated.  yet, when you get to the basics, it seems so simple.

Stand back awhile and remember the good times.  What brought you together in the first place?

With few exceptions, it was love, and you committed your love to one another forever.  At that time, you saw your love as such a powerful force that nothing could overcome it.  And many people involved in extra-marital affairs claim to be even more confused, because although they love their new lovers, they still love their spouses, too.

Seems a pure contradiction, but it is an understandable emotion.  If their love was still there, was still a vibrant force in their lives, they wouldn't be unfaithful to their spouses, would they?

If their love was really a true love, would they voluntarily break their covenants with one another and with God?

Certainly, mistakes do happen in human relationships.  But if after time spent in honest introspection about infidelity, the responsible person still decides to continue down his (or her) new path, something is wrong.

(For clarity's sake, only the masculine pronoun --- his, him, himself --- will be used for the rest of the article.  However, this doesn't connote any of the following problems or attributes to the male gender only.  Feminine pronouns can be substituted to fit the situation.)

He's fooling himself.  There's either a great lack of maturity involved, or he's trying to wrestle with his feelings of guilt.

Then infidelity happens, it lessens the sting of guilt by claiming you still love your spouse.  The love commitment is still there, although the faithfulness vow has been broken.  To break the commitment altogether, however, is something else!  It entails failure and death, and the guilt lays mostly with the one "fooling around."

Of course, much of the guilt also belongs to the spouse who hasn't been unfaithful by "loving another."  Yet, there's a good chance she's been unfaithful in other says.

Has she treated her spouse as really a lovable person --- daily, year after year?  Has the spouse always been first in their relationship --- ahead of children or other relatives?

Has she kept up with her personal appearance, not counting the toll years take?  (With the right attitude, however, many believe age adds a new beauty, or character, to a face.)

Have you talked ---really talked --- about goals, feelings, hopes, disappointments?

Often when things are right at home, things are right away from home.  When each day is begun and lived in love, spouses become stronger while resisting certain temptation.

Since both my husband and I work away from home and each other most of the day, we've noticed that without a solid love life at home temptations can become very attractive outside.  But then if they weren't attractive, they wouldn't be temptations, would they?

And these temptations don't start as extra-marital affairs.  The majority of them start as simple friendships.  One person is hurting, or is an extra interesting, attractive and fun person to be with.  You enjoy talking with one another.

Soon you're particularly drawn to help the hurting person.  Or you can't wean yourself away from the feeling of enjoyment you get by just being around a special someone.  You're still just friends, but a relationship has started.  And if daily tabs aren't kept, that friendship can deceptively --- and so gradually --- develop into a very confusing and frustrating love relationship.

How many couples find themselves saying, "How did we get into this predicament?"

Many of these relationships start innocently on both partners' parts.  On the other hand, there are times when you have outsiders who love to collect "conquest feathers."

They like to see how they can attract persons who pride themselves on being faithful.  It's their ego trip.  Often they're basically insecure persons who need strokes given to them by persons of the other sex --- again one at a time --- the more of them the more loving they see themselves as being.

Even these people aren't evil intentionally.  They are searching for love, too --- but they equate love with the number of conquests they stack up.

The person with sooner or later discovers he has been one of these conquests suddenly finds his world shattered.

It's then up to him and his spouse to pick up the pieces, glue them together and make a stronger relationship than ever before --- it they truly value the love they had, and hopefully still have --- in the first place.

This is not the time to quit.  It's a time to forgive and build.  Trust will gradually --- and not without pain --- follow.

Yes, sometimes when a love relationship does develop a flaw (and how many don't!), It can turn out to be a very simple blessing.

A renewed love is often even richer than in its earlier days.  A couple has discovered what life can be like without the other.  They realize that their love is indeed fragile;  it must be cared for, fed and pampered each day.

And this is where we get into individual responsibilities for making marriage work.  Let's try to get out of the "rights" mentality, and hook onto the "responsibilities" mentality.

"Love Makes Love," as many popular t-shirts espouse.

A few parting remarks on what to keep in mind for your marriage:

   Unless you're one of few married to areal dunce, your giving will be reciprocated.  I suggest you give and give, love and love, build up more and more.  Be a lover first, a spouse and parent second.
    Don't be too predictable, though.  Show your love in different ways.  Use your imagination.  Change your hair-do once in awhile; take your spouse out to dinner for no reason at all.  Plan surprises -- big ones and small ones.  Make big deals of little events.  Make your love an exciting element of life.
    It's good to be comfortable in your love, but don't become so comfortable that you fall asleep in your relationship.
    Sometimes you won't feel very loving or lovable.  Don't pretend those feelings don't exist.  Instead confide in your spouse in the most loving way you're up to at that time.  This honest with one another is one of the real pluses that go with covenant love and marriage.  You will have negative feelings once in awhile.  You will hate, be angry and jealous and moody.
    Admit your feelings.  Then pray together that they will in time be smoothed over, dissolved and replaced with more positive emotions.
    And remember, love sometimes isn't a feeling.  Like faith, it is just there.  For days it may be dormant for one or both of you.  But just realize that it is still there.  You have entered into a covenant with God.  He has become an integral part of your relationship.  God is at work in it --- and for it --- with you.  God's stake in your marriage is just as great as yours and your spouse's.
God will not desert you or your marriage.   Just as the Holy Spirit has been described as the love between the Father and the Son, so it your marriage and love.  It's an entity in itself, a product of what is in you and your spouse --- the good parts and bad parts of each one's personalities --- nurtured by God's grace.

It's a unique source of energy and power in the world.  A positive power building up families and nations.

And remember, it all started with a simple committed surrender of self to the person who means more to you than anyone else in the world.  God comes to abide in that love, because where love is, God is --- and will continue to be "til death do us part."

Poll

Should we promise we'll remain with spouse until death?

37%6 votes
43%7 votes
18%3 votes

| 16 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm sure that is on the list. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grannycarol, LamontCranston

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:26:06 PM PDT

  •  When my first marriage ended (7+ / 0-)

    I truly mourned the death of that marriage- more than the loss of my husband.

    I believed in those vows I took, but he didn't- and left at the first sign of 'trouble'.

    I have been with the man I am married to now for over twenty two years and we have been married for eleven.  Before we were married, we had 'broken up' several times, but always found our way back to one another.  

    It's the one thing this relationship has that my first marriage didn't.  No matter what, we don't give up.

    Which is why my husband doesn't call this his second marriage.  He calls it his last.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:32:54 PM PDT

  •  ...That Bwessed Awwangement, that Dweam (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shahryar, johnny wurster, Wee Mama

    Wivvin a Dweam.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:33:13 PM PDT

  •  Jeepers H. McGillicuddy! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, kyril

    How'd I get in the Twilight Zone?

  •  What happens when the "other"... (7+ / 0-)

    ...is the spouse himself? That's what killed Calamity Jean's first marriage: her first husband was too tied up in his needs and wants for any love to repair the damage. She walked out the selfish fool, and found herself a better husband.

    Me.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:34:23 PM PDT

  •  Married For 15 Years. Divorced For 4 Years. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FiredUpInCA, kyril

    I'm one of those who would definitely not attempt that again. I love being a good dating companion. But don't see marriage or living together as a road to contentment. Happy trails to those that do. Always looking for someone who is equally cynical about the concept.

  •  "Till Death" Was Usually 10-15 Years When the (7+ / 0-)

    Bible was compiled.

    Today death takes about half a century to do the parting. Give us a break, we have a much tougher assignment today than the Original Intent of either evolution or The Lord.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:51:43 PM PDT

    •  10-15 years? Do you have a source for this? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FiredUpInCA, kyril, Wee Mama

      My research shows about 25 years on average.  

      •  What are your sources for lifespans in Biblical (0+ / 0-)

        times?  In the countries today with the lowest average lifespans, the averages are just under or just at 40 years according to Wiki-collected data, and supposedly we've heard that even that is on the high side in a few countries today.

        Given the utter lack of germ theory and other health care advances back then, I'd be surprised if the actual averages were even that high 2000 years ago, except among the wealthiest, who probably got a few decades more.

        •  You guys are misunderstanding lifespan figures (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama

          When you read that "the average life expectancy was 40 years" or something similar to that, it doesn't mean people aged any faster.  It just means that, compared to today, more of them died younger due to things -- such as injuries or illness -- that today we can successfully treat with medicine. It's a population average, not a prediction for any individual.

          One of the major factors that drove down average life expectancy in the past was infant and childhood mortality. For those people who made it through the dangerous early parts of their life (infancy, childhood, young adulthood) they lived about the same length of time as do people today.

          As to the content of the diary, I just skimmed it but it reads more like some kind of religious essay, which is neither my interest nor expertise, so I'll bow out.

          •  And people married earlier then too (0+ / 0-)

            As late as the Middle Ages, couples (especially young girls) could be married as young as 14, though often the marriage would not be consummated until the girl was a bit older and filled out so as to ensure healthy heirs. So even if the average lifespan was 40, that would still be about 25 years together.

            But in Biblical eras I wouldn't be surprised to find shorter lifespans -- not only did you have a greater risk of dying in childbirth for women, men were at risk for plagues, disease, and just being in the wrong place at the wrong time in a country under foreign occupation.

          •  No, I don't think I am. (0+ / 0-)

            I may be stating them in an overly simplified fashion, but I don't think my understanding of them is less.  My comment, in fact, didn't even bother to talk about the 'why' of shorter lifespans, so you just assumed I somehow believed 'people aged faster'.

            You, for instance, are ignoring the associated stress factors associated with lifestyle changes in your comment, but I don't automatically assume that 'you misunderstand them', simply that you didn't bother to state them in your comment.

  •  Beautiful, granny... (5+ / 0-)

    Just celebrated 29 years of marriage with a woman who is alluring, aggravating, fun, confusing, and - every so often - maddeningly obnoxious.  Turns out that I'm the same way - well, except for the 'alluring' part.  There have been days...and there have been days...

    A life lived in a marriage is one of acceptance, compromise, forgiveness, and apology.  It's about talking when you don't want to, coming to agreement when you hate to, forgiving when not doing so is easier and accepting forgiveness with grace when you know you don't deserve it, and loving when hating would be so much easier...

    I'll take having it over not having it any day...

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 08:59:12 PM PDT

  •  Marriage, especially among the young, is often (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FiredUpInCA, kyril

    just a mistake made with the best of intentions. A God of love doesn't require us to pay for a that kind of mistake with a lifetime of unhappiness.

    Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

    by RJDixon74135 on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 09:07:30 PM PDT

  •  I don't regret my first marriage, or the divorce. (7+ / 0-)

    I got two beautiful daughters out of the deal. We're both remarried, and we're all friends and do things for each other.
    That whole thing was between my spouse and I. There was no deity involved, at least as far as I was concerned.
    Kurt Vonnegut on the subject:

    My wife said to me the other day, after a knock‑down drag‑out fight about interior decoration, ‘I don’t love you anymore.’ And I said to her, ‘So, what else is new?’ She really didn’t love me then, which was perfectly normal. She will love me some other time – I think, I hope. It’s possible.

    If she had wanted to terminate the marriage, to carry it past the point of no return, she would have had to say, ‘I don’t RESPECT you anymore.’ Now – that would be terminal.
    One of the many unnecessary American catastrophes going on right now, along with the religious revival and boiling water with plutonium, is all the people who are getting divorced because they don’t love each other any more. That is like trading a car when the ashtrays are full. When you don’t RESPECT your mate anymore – that’s when the transmission is shot and there’s a crack in the engine block.

    ...and dropping a bar bell he points to the sky, saying "The sun's not yellow-it's CHICKEN!"

    by porchdog1961 on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 09:13:43 PM PDT

  •  Been married 29 years without any god appearing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FiredUpInCA, kyril, Wee Mama

    I was married once before and after the divorce I actually met another woman I loved enough to live with though i am not lesbian. I never said anything.

    Personally this man+woman+ babies +god stuff  never has meant all that much to me.  I think that what you have written precludes the possibility of long lasting love between two of the same sex. I personally know one couple who have been together continuously for over 37 years.

    I agree with poster who quoted Vonnegut... it is what I  told my son when he was preparing to get married... "Do you respect her? Do you find your differences interesting or threatening?" You lose respect then  ridicule, correction of unapproved behaviors and efforts to control come in and kill love.  Love can not exist without respect of the others otherness.  Dependence and functional usefulness is what some mistakenly think is love... and they will cling to what is known even though they daily tear at each other in ways painful to watch. Habit is a big part of some marriages.

    Proud Slut...Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Sun Apr 08, 2012 at 11:15:45 PM PDT

  •  I'm enjoying your journey very much (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, johnny wurster

    Thank you for sharing it.


    "Armaments, universal debt, planned obsolescence — the three pillars of Western prosperity." — Aldous Huxley

    by Pluto on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 12:11:14 AM PDT

  •  I'm a no vote. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Iron Spider, Cali Scribe

    There are too many relationships in which you start with neither party truly knowing the other in enough depth, and only finding out that one (or both) are mentally, physically, or emotionally abusive.  I know a double handful of divorcees, and none of them did what they did lightly, all had rock-solid reasons for getting divorced, and are far better off for having done so.  Maybe among the 1%ers you get a lot of 'boredom' divorces or 'we've grown apart' divorces, but in the circles I run in, divorce serves a real purpose, and frees people to actually attempt to find love, where there really was none.

  •  I like the balance of the Orthodox church, where (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cali Scribe

    the expectation is marriage for life but there is a realization that people are fallible, too. A first marriage is glorious, with crowns for the spouses and the whole nine yards. If a first marriage is dissolved and the people remarry, they can in the church but it is much smaller and quieter. There is no third marriage as long as the previous spouses survive.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 07:08:05 AM PDT

  •  "...because God is Love.." (0+ / 0-)

    Exactly.

    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

    by LamontCranston on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 10:30:42 AM PDT

  •  First you say you're going to use (0+ / 0-)

    the masculine pronoun in your list, but then you switch to the feminine when you describe the "spouse who hasn't been unfaithful."  And then you say that not keeping up her looks (which I read as, not getting fat and continuing to put on her make-up and do her hair, despite getting wrinkly) might have contributed to the unfaithfulness of "her" spouse?

    Combine that with the reference to "primitive polygamous societies" and I feel like I've stepped back into the 1950s, sexually & racially.

    Marriage is a social convention.  It's a contract with social & economic & political implications, and what's a marriage and what's not is defined by powers with interests in those areas:  the church and the state. It varies widely from one society to another.  (That's what the big battle over gay marriage is about -- are we going to allow gay people the social, economic & political advantages that marriage confers?)

    Love... that's another story.  And if you ask me, that's what's sacred, if anything is sacred at all.  And love is independent of the particular contractual forms we embrace. I've seen healthy, happy kids come out of traditional heterosexual marriages, unmarried unions of heterosexuals or gays, gay marriages, poly marriages, you name it.  I've also seen unhealthy kids come out of most of those... especially heterosexual marriages where there's no love.

    So I can't see the point of debating whether we "should" stay with our spouse until death.  I can see the point of talking about how we can love each other and protect each other and raise children who are healthy, safe and secure.  I can see the point of talking about the importance of honesty and openness in relationships, and about trust and commitment. I can see the point of trying to create a relationship in which people and grow and learn together.

    And I haven't seen much sign, anywhere, in any country, under any religion, that "till death do you part" makes the world a better place.  Equality, freedom, opportunity... now those are another story.

    "If you fake the funk, your nose will grow." -- Bootsy Collins

    by hepshiba on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 10:39:43 AM PDT

    •  I cringed when I read much of this myself. (0+ / 0-)

      However, it shows how I thought then in contrast to what I think now.  And the part about the masculine pronoun.  Originally, I did have the masculine throughout.  But last night when I read this, even considering that some marriages are same sex, most are still opposite sex, I changed the mate to the feminine.  Seemed like I was caught between a rock and hard place in that decision.

      However, I agree with most of what you say. Note that I wrote this some 25 years ago when I was very active in the church.

      Making a better world for those who follow us!

      by people power granny on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 12:02:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For those who don't know you yet (0+ / 0-)

        on DKos, it would be helpful to give a bit more intro.  Because it really wasn't clear that you still didn't stand behind what you wrote, or how much more flexible you'd become.  Now that I'm paging back through your earlier diaries, I can see how much your views have changed, and that this is part of a series on what you used to think, rather than on what you think now.  But as a new reader, I wouldn't have known, and there wasn't enough of a cue at the front of the diary.

        I'm glad to have discovered a new diarist to read, though! And thanks for the answer. :)

        "If you fake the funk, your nose will grow." -- Bootsy Collins

        by hepshiba on Mon Apr 09, 2012 at 12:14:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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