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The Myth of Compatibility

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about myself:

I’m a Christian Prayer Cupid.

Never heard of that? That’s because I may be the first one in the world.

See, I have about a 75% success rate in bringing couples together through prayer. When I pray fervently for long enough about two people getting together, BOOM! They get married. It almost always works. It worked with my younger sister and brother-in-law, after I prayed myself into a frenzy for about six months (“Please God! Bring them together! It would be perfect!”). Before I knew it he was asking her out on a date. And now they are happily married! I totally accredit myself for their success.

After my friends heard about my Prayer Cupid success with my sister, they began to entreat me to pray for another friend and a boy we all thought would make a perfect match for her. Guess what? Whammo! They’re dating, and well on their way to a life of connubial bliss. My friends are starting to come to me regularly when they have an awesome couple in mind.

It’s a gift.

The reason my success rate is not 100%, though, is because I’m having trouble with my younger sister. (I have three sisters in total, plus one younger brother. Second Sis is married. I’m talking about Middle Sis here). Granted, Middle Sis is only 18, so I still have plenty of time to pray her into the perfect relationship. But I’m still a little disappointed in the impotence of my Prayer Cupid powers on her so far.

The guy that I think would be great for her – he’s awesome. He’s handsome, courteous, artistic, smart, and, importantly, totally Mennonite. If I were a single teenaged Mennonite girl I’m pretty sure I’d be crushing on him myself. But for some reason, Middle Sis just doesn’t seem to be digging my Christian Cupid Prayer action.

The reason she gives me? “We don’t have that much in common. He listens to different music and reads different kinds of books.” (Did you hear that? He reads books, but she’s still hesitant?! Do you see what I’ve got to work with here?)

I can relate, though, because I used to hold similar views on compatibility. When I was young and single, I though my future husband would have to be a man who was into all the same stuff as me. He would have to love punk rock, the Lord of the Rings movies, loud clothes, art museums and Renaissance poetry. I couldn’t possibly date a guy who was into hip-hop, sports, cars, or Vin Diesel. I was going to marry an intellectual or poet, and his favourite band had to be either Blink 182 or Relient K.

According to this narrow idea of compatibility, I would know I had found The One when I had found a guy who was passionate about all the same things I was.

Fortunately, falling in love with Ben made me toss all that out the window.

He’s nothing like the guy I thought I would “fit” with.

In a lot of ways, you could say that my husband and I are not compatible at all. He just doesn’t seem like the guy for me. Here are just a few reasons:

  • In high school, clothing was a big deal to me. I wore chains, spikes, suspenders, purple shoes and lime green pants to school. I had my eyes open for a guy who dressed like me. I was looking for blue hair and goofy retro t-shirts. I thought this was essential to finding the right mate. But this guy I ended up with preferred to wear nondescript grey crew-cut t-shirts he’d been wearing since grade 8. My husband has never thought much about clothes at all. He liked to blend in.  Totally wrong for me.
  • He hated school. He worked hard to graduate high school a semester early so he could get a head start on working, while I went to university for six years after graduation. And I still don’t work full time. I would probably still be in school if I wasn’t anxious to start a family. Obviously, we have different perspectives on education.
  • Ben lives for cars. He speaks of the automotive industry as his “destiny.” The skill that Ben most prides himself on, and criticizes others the most for lacking, is driving. Me? I detest cars. I think that the world is a worse place for their existence. And my only goal in driving is to get from point A to point B without killing anyone. Ben and I cannot get into a car together without at one point wishing we could shoulder the other out the window.
  • I devoted six years of my life to studying English literature of the pre-industrialized era, focusing on Renaissance and medieval religious prose. The only book my husband has read that was written before 1986 is the Bible. How am I supposed to carry on a conversation with a guy who hasn’t read Donne or Spenser or Julian of Norwich? Tell me, how? (Answer: there are lots of other things to talk about).
  • Most shocking of all: HE’S NEVER READ C. S. LEWIS. The horrible truth only collapsed upon me last year, after we’d been married for over three years. We were in Oxford, England, in the midst of what I’d dubbed a “Lewis pilgrimage” (taking a day to visit Lewis’ college, home, church and grave) when I turned to Ben and asked, “Which of Lewis’s books have you read, again?” I thought I had just forgotten. His answer: “Actually . . . none.” NOT EVEN THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA? Who was this man? I admit, right then and there, I paused to question whether I had married the right man. How could I be eternally united to a man who had not engaged the writings of the most important person in my literary universe? What had I done? How had I overlooked this all-important factor?

If you look at it this way, my husband and I shouldn’t be compatible. We have vastly different interests. I’m an opinionated thinker who ironically finds it an intellectual challenge figuring out how the get the grocery bags inside from the car in less than four trips. He’s a problem-solving handyman who can build and install an entire kitchen right, after changing the oil in both the cars and re-wiring the doorbell, but who falls asleep after two pages of The Screwtape Letters.

But we work.

The thing is, there’s no easy way to tell with whom you will be compatible. I’m not saying there’s no such thing as compatibility, only that it’s not as predictable as you might think. I never could have foreseen being “into” Ben Quiring – quiet, practical, low-key, non-poetry-reading Ben Quiring. But inexplicably, I am.

I do think that there are a couple of things that you have to share with your spouse. These include:

  • Similar religious convictions – if you disagree on the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, you are going to have trouble making major life decisions together.  Like whether your baby should be baptized or whether you should use birth control. Of course, if you hold to different religions but both very loosely, you can probably get along. But a passionate evangelical cannot easily build a life with a staunch atheist, I don’t think.
  • Shared values regarding the big things in life, like money, family, and marriage. If one of you strives for financial security but the other wants to be a missionary, you might have problems. If one of you believes divorce is acceptable but the other does not, you’re asking for heartache. So look out for these things when you’re looking for a mate.

There are probably other essential keys to compatibility  – can you think of any?

So, Middle Sis, what I’m trying to say here is, Handsome Mennonite Boy doesn’t necessarily have to have all the same interests as you in order for you to love him.  Give your Big Sister the chance to show off her Mad Prayer Cupid Skillz and give Handsome Mennonite Boy a second thought. You may be surprised to find how deeply in love you can fall with a man who seems to be totally incompatible with you.

I sure was.

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Warning: ranty material ahead.

I love Corey from Simple Marriage. You know that. I keep linking to his site and raving about all the wisdom he offers. I adore his blog and feel he has given me so much.

But recently he wrote a post entitled A Good Marriage is the Enemy of a Great Marriage.

It’s a good post, don’t get me wrong. But in truth, this kind of post is the kind of thing that destroys me.

And I’m seeing it everywhere: “Be excellent.” “Be better than you are.” “Excel at all you do, plus more.” These are the messages I get everywhere I turn, especially from the blogosphere. Everyone is offering to teach me how I can become better. Because apparently, I’m not good enough.

All the other marriage blogs want you to have “stupendous” and “extraordinary” marriages. The people who write them are wonderful, brilliant, ambitious people, and I admire them. And their philosophy probably works wonders for certain people.

But for people like me, it’s unspeakably taxing.

I was born a die-hard perfectionist. My Mom tells me that when I was two I refused to say aloud any word I couldn’t perfectly pronounce. On the second day of kindergarten I cried because I couldn’t read yet. In first grade I cried because I couldn’t draw my favourite cartoon character. Ever since I can remember, I have striven for distinction in all I do, and have demanded nothing less than perfection from myself. In the last nineteen years of my life I have constantly pressured myself to be an exceptional student. In my adult life I have striven to be an extraordinary cook, and impeccable housekeeper, a successful writer, an accomplished artist, and a perfect wife.

It’s killing me, man. I can’t do it. I’ve never been able to do it. I’m not extraordinary.

I can’t even remember what if feels like to not be under constant pressure – pressure to achieve more, to impress more, to produce more. I live in constant despair over not being good enough.

This is a taste of what goes through my mind every single day:

“You are not achieving enough.”

“It’s your fault you’re not successful.”

“You don’t work hard enough. You’ll never succeed at this rate.”

Honestly, the last thing I need to hear is that my marriage isn’t good enough!

I would give anything to hear just one voice say, “Your marriage is good enough. You’re achieving plenty. Sometimes satisfactory is good enough. Kathleen, sometimes you need to be happy with ‘pretty OK.’”

Since no one is telling me this, I guess it’s up to me to step up and tell myself:

You’re doing fine. You don’t need to conquer the world. You don’t need to be extraordinary. Just be happy for once.

God doesn’t care if you never publish a book or get a thousand pageviews on your blog. He doesn’t care if you never become a public figure or tour the country giving important talks. He doesn’t care if you never get your PhD. All he wants is for you to love him.

And your marriage is fine. You’re still together and you care for each other, right? And you’re committed to stay that way, right? Good enough.

Chill.

At this point, I just want to be able to make it through each week without killing myself. I often have to tell myself at the beginning of each morning, “If I make it through this day alive I will have succeeded. I will have accomplished my goal.”

I wish sometimes that other people would affirm this as a legitimate goal.

Sometimes I wonder if we don’t need to be taught to just be content – to settle a little bit. Sometimes I wonder if our culture puts too much pressure on us to be extraordinary, sensational, magnificent  . . . more than human.

But “pretty OK” isn’t good enough for most people. We’re told we can “do anything.” Maybe I’m drifting off topic here, but sometimes I also wonder if it wouldn’t be healthier to be told you aren’t actually capable of absolutely anything: some things are just out of your control. I sometimes think all this “You can do anything” stuff breeds a lot of self-loathing when we don’t succeed.

Since I’m told that I can do anything, I blame myself when I can’t.

I blame myself for being unable to conceive a child.

I blame myself for having acne.

I blame myself for not being a famous writer/blogger.

Since I’m told I should be able to do anything, I understand the above shortcomings as personal failures. But maybe it’s not my fault. Maybe these things really are out of my control.

So last night at 2 a.m., as I rocked myself to sleep, I decided that I am going to do an experiment. For the next week, whenever I start thinking my usual bad thoughts, I am going to repeat these things:

Kathleen, you are good enough.

You do not have to be famous. You can die without ever landing a book deal and you will be just fine.

You can perfectly happy with “OK.”

Even if no one else likes you, God does. And he’s the only one who really matters. He never said you had to be extraordinary.

Oh, and your marriage is pretty downright a-ok. In fact, it’s peachy.

If this new kind of thinking causes me to be less “successful” – to achieve less, to sink even deeper into obscurity – that’s probably OK. I can’t possibly be any unhappier than I am right now, so you can bet that if I fall off the radar I am probably better off in my new universe of “pretty OK.”

I’ll let you know in a week what I discover.  Maybe.

And if it works, I’m going to introduce a new focus on achieving “the pretty OK in marriage.”

Does anyone else ever feel like this, too, or am I alone in this?

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I think I’m going to take just a teensy-weensy break from blogging. Just, like, a week or two. Two reasons:

First the obvious one. It’s Christmastime. I don’t think people are reading blogs that much right now. They’re too busy banqueting and cleaning their houses and stuff. So I’m gonna wait to post any of my really serious stuff until after Christmas, I think. If I had a Christmas-themed series going on or something it would be a different story but I don’t. I’m just not that into this pseudo-Christian pagan holiday this year for some reason. Bah humbug.

The second reason is that I want to focus a little of my time on my other writing project. I’m working on a collection of creative non-fiction pieces about Mennonite culture for publication. Wooo! I’m working with a real publisher, even. I want to focus my creative energies on that for a couple of weeks. But my heart will remain with Project M.

I might throw in a story or two while I’m away, especially if my holidaying gets particularly nutso, but those posts will be lighter and shorter than some of my recent stuff.

But before I sign off for the holidays, I want to say a couple of things about this last year and the year to come.

First of all, thanks a ton, guys and gals. Thanks to my faithful friends who have been reading my blog for the last five months, and thanks to my fabulous new readers who have encouraged me so much in the last couple of weeks. A HUGE thanks to the NFP-loving community that has deluged me with encouragement, prayer, advice, and useful information.  My brain has expanded significantly and my heart has been warmed thoroughly.  I told my sister yesterday that I don’t think a Mennonite girl has ever had so many Catholics praying for her (and for her fertility, no less!) in the history of Christianity. It means a lot to me, folks.

Second, I want to outline some of the subjects I plan to tackle in the New Year. Most of them spiral out from stuff I’ve come across in the last few months. And I’m doing some research. I’ve taken out books from the library (including Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which several commenters suggested) and I’ve downloaded documentaries and I can’t wait to learn more.

I will warn you that the list looks really . . . um . . . Christian. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But I am a Christian and everything that happens in my brain is influenced by that fact.

In all of these subjects, keep in mind that I will need help from you, my dear readers.

A Couple of Questions I Want to Consider in 2010

  • Why haven’t most Evangelicals in the last few generations thought much about contraception and its implications? Why did I get fifty comments from Catholics on my articles on NFP but only three from Protestants, even though 99% of my friends are Protestants? What are we missing?
  • Why do/should we Christians make such a big deal out of sex?
  • What is the point of marriage, anyway?
  • What are we to make of the Bible’s talk of male headship and female submission (ack!)?
  • What role does gender play in marriage, and in the universe? Is it important? What is gender, anyway?
  • What should Christians think about marriage laws (including gay marriage), and how should we respond to them?

I am even toying with starting a series on domestic stuff (like, where readers can contribute tips on frugality, efficiency, green living, and how to hard-boil the perfect egg — stuff like that). But I’m not sure if that would fit right with the rest of Project M. Maybe you can tell me.

Well, what am I missing? What other subjects do you think need to be covered in regards to marriage? What do you want to see more of? Do the above subjects sound boring? Do you think I should NOT take a break from blogging?

Have a happy, happy Christmas, and don’t try to drown your family frustration with food and drink. It will only make you feel bloated and disgusting on top of frustrated. Trust me — I know. Blessings.

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Writing a blog is very different from writing a book. I haven’t ever written a book, but I think I know what I’m talking about in this respect. Eventually, a book has an end. You reach a point where your book is finished. It gets published. But a blog? It’s never “finished.” It’s an ongoing thing which doesn’t ever technically reach completion. And because of that, a blog is always changing. So I’m always rethinking my blog, considering its future direction. Here are my latest thoughts on the direction of Project M.

In the last few weeks I have come across a ton of other blogs and projects that are concerned with marriage. Most of these have been through Stu Gray’s Top Ten Marriage Blogs list. Through this list, I’ve started to communicate with a lot of other writers who are interested in the same issues that I am, and it has been really cool to discover what is all out there. Some of the blogs and websites are totally awesome. Some of them are . . . not. But most of them are awesome.

Yet, I’m finding that the majority of these other blogs have this same thing in common: they offer advice on how to improve your marriage – how to make your marriage “sensational.” (Each has its own word for talking about “sensational” marriage).

This is a terrific thing: I think that people these days really need to learn how to improve their marriages. Folks these days don’t seem to know how to be married: about half of all marriages break up, which is catastrophic. Evidently, we could use some advice on how to make our marriages work. But I noticed that I don’t really offer advice.

When looking at all these other websites, of course I’ve been forced to think about how my own project fits into all of this. How is my project the same? How is it different?

I came up with a couple of key things that I am trying to achieve, or key points that I am trying to make through my blog. I’m even thinking about updating my “About the Project” page to reflect some of these thoughts. Some of them, I’ve already written about in earlier posts. Maybe you can let me know what you think. Essentially, here’s what I’ve been thinking:

I’m not here to teach you how to have a “sensational” marriage. I don’t think I have the skills/knowledge/wisdom/training/experience to do that. I’m just this girl, you know? I’m from a small town and I’m married and I like to write; that’s about it.

I’m not entirely sure I believe in “sensational” marriages anyway. Call me a cynic. But even the best marriages in the world are just relationships between imperfect humans that are lived out in this ordinary and sometimes tragic world. Imperfect people are annoying. They misunderstand one another. They forget to put others before themselves sometimes. And then they die. Such is the fate of marriage. (Please keep in mind that I really love being married and truly believe that it is the best thing that ever happened to me).

Anyway, I’m not that big into advice-giving or receiving in the first place. I’m not great at applying sound advice to my life, nor am I good at turning my own experiences into instructions that can be applied to other people’s lives.  I like to think of myself as more of an idea-generator, or a story-teller, or something along those lines. I don’t really go looking for instructions from other people, either, even if they’re really wise. I’m more interested in looking for ideas. I’m just not really into practical knowledge. Call me useless and airy-fairy. I majored in English lit.

I know that my lack of enthusiasm for advice is unfortunate in our current Self-Help Age, where people make a killing writing books and offering advice on how to make your life awesome. I could really make something of myself that way . . . maybe. But I just don’t think it’s for me.

Instead, I’m just here to tell the truth about marriage. I’m here to describe it. I believe in Anne Lamott’s dictum that writers have a moral obligation to share our experiences so that we don’t all have to feel so isolated. I’m also here to theorize about marriage.

I’m interested in dispelling the myths around marriage. I want to unromanticizing marriage, but also to occasionally re-romanticize it. I want to think about it with fresh eyes, casting off all the preconceived notions that we have of this multi-millennial practice. Marriage has been around since the beginning of human history, and can sometimes seem a little outdated and irrelevant for today’s high-tech world. But I still believe it is important and pertinent, even today.

I want to inspire people to try marriage, but I also want to be honest about marriage. In one respect, marriage is just another part of everyday human life. It won’t save you. It won’t bring you eternal happiness or satisfaction. I don’t want to give people any false impressions about the glory and majesty of marriage. But in many respects it is glorious and majestic. And it can definitely bring you occasional happiness and satisfaction.  More importantly, I think it enriches our lives and enables us to become better, more mature, more complete human beings. So that’s a good thing.

Ultimately, like all of life, marriage is both marvelous and mundane at the same time. It’s both sacred and utterly earthly.  It has enabled me to experience some of the highest forms of spiritual ecstasy; it has also involved a lot of tedium and engagement with everyday tasks, like laundering my husband’s underwear and cooking him dinner every day. Love is awesome, but complicated. Sex is awesome, but . . . complicated.

So why do I want to talk about marriage specifically? Why do I want to “tell the truth about marriage”?

Because marriage has been the most surprising experience of my life. Before I was married, I thought I knew what marriage was. And I didn’t like it. But since being married, I have discovered that I was totally wrong about all of it. And since I was totally wrong about it, I think that maybe other people are wrong about it too and would like to learn more. Even if it’s from some girl from a small town who likes to write.

What are your thoughts? Do you seek out advice on how to improve your life and your marriage, and do you offer advice to others? Why? Or are you more idea- and story-driven, like me? Do you think I should try to apply other people’s advice to my own life a little more?

*Notice how I have begun bolding certain sentences in my blog posts? Doesn’t that make it easier to read?? See how my blog is always changing??

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“Wife” — Ugh.

I’m not a fan of the word “wife.”

The word “husband,” on the other hand, is a different story.  In my mind, it has a rather heroic, chivalrous sound to it.  A husband can be romantic yet masculine; he can be young and virile and smart.  The word suggests loyalty and devotion, but is not beyond a little mystery and charm.  I love the sound of the word: husband.  Yes, please; I would like to have a husband.  The word sounds larger-than-life.

But “wife”? I’m not such a fan.  I can’t quite shake the barefoot-and-pregnant-in-the-kitchen image that comes with it.  The word “wife” conjures up images in my mind of apron-strings, head scarves, pleated floral dresses and submissive, downcast eyes.  The word is associated in my brain with pastel colours, hair curlers, and . . . paper napkins.  I’m not sure why the paper napkins.  I guess because they’re tidy, flavourless, and practical.  Square.  Absorbent. They have no character of their own.

I read a lot of blogs and books written by men.  A lot of them are married men.  That’s cool: like I said, “husbands” are awesome.  They’re amorous and manly.  But any time they refer to their wives, I instinctively think, “Ick.”  Wife implies a woman who lacks of personality, sensuality, and/or eccentricities of her own.

Wife is the opposite of edgy.  It does not suggest a hot body, or a classy wardrobe, or a spunky personality.  It does not suggest a keen mind or mad skills.  Boo.  I don’t want to be a wife.

You can imagine, then, that I didn’t look forward to taking on this title.  I was actually more eager to take on the “Mrs” salutation than the title of wife.  “Mrs” is so unexpected and novel on a girl my age that it makes it kind of funky, in my opinion. I like it: Mrs. Kathleen Quiring. I dig the sound of that. But to call myself Ben’s wife? Ugh.

Yet, I reluctantly take it on. For, when I consider all the alternatives, I have to conclude that wife is the best title I can come up with.

Consider with me some of the alternatives.

“Girlfriend,” apart from being misleading (for I have in fact married Ben in a real-life, old-fashioned wedding ceremony), suggests a lack of commitment and maturity. It suggests frivolity. It suggests high school romance.  I’ve never thought the word befitting to any female adult: women in their twenties and thirties who are in serious relationships ought not to be “girlfriends,” in my (admittedly limited) opinion. There needs to be a better word out there for that.  It just doesn’t sound serious enough.  REJECTED.

“Lover” is no better.  True, at least it is more adult-sounding, but then it is also laced with a teensy bit of scandal.  Although more accurate than “girlfriend” (Yes, I am Ben’s lover and he is mine), it carries overly-erotic overtones for my liking – it suggests raciness and trace amounts of fickleness.  At one point in the history of the English language, “lover” implied something more like “one who is smitten with adoration,” but now it seems to mean nothing more than “sexual partner.” And I am so much more than that to Ben.  Plus, you can’t go around using that term in everyday conversation.  “Yeah, my lover and I were thinking we’d go see that movie together when it came out.” Uhn-uhn. REJECTED.

The popular, contemporary alternative to all of this is “partner.” It has the benefit of being gender-neutral and making you sound educated and left-leaning . . . if you’re into that kind of thing. Professional people – particularly liberal-arts professors, it seems – love referring to their mates as “partners,” even if they’re heterosexual and even if they’re married in the old-fashioned sense.  It’s so hip and P.C.  But for some reason I hate this word more than any other.  It suggests that I am anti-marriage or anti-institution, which I’m clearly not.  I’m proud that I’m married, that I had a wedding and wore the white dress and everything.  I’m proud that I have made a life-long commitment to a solitary man and that I’m capable of making vows, even at my age.  I’m proud that I haven’t been suckered into the world’s version of sub-par sexual relationships, promoted by the media.  And I don’t want to make strangers wonder whether or not I’m a lesbian by referring to an absent “partner.” I want to be clear on that: my partner is a man.  So: REJECTED.

“Mate” suggests the animal kingdom.  Zebras and hippopotamuses have mates.  REJECTED.

So . . . “wife” it is.  Sigh. I guess I just have to accept the term with all its obedient, dutiful connotations.

Unless you have any better suggestions. Maybe there are more appealing alternatives out there that I haven’t considered.  Do you have any? I wouldn’t have to use it all the time, of course; but it would be nice, if, every once in a while, I could toss around a term that didn’t have such undertones of subservience and feminine passivity. Any suggestions?  I would love to hear some of your ideas.

Alternatively, feel free to tell me my assessments of the above terms are stupid and/or dead-wrong. Go ahead. I can handle it. What do you think of the word “wife”?

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So I’ve been perusing the web lately for other blogs that talk about marriage.  I figure it’s good to know what else is going on out there, and maybe engage some other bloggers.  I wanted to see what kinds of other discussions were going on, and maybe enter them a little bit.  I think it’s good to build community with other writers who are interested in the same subjects, so I figured I’d immerse myself in the writing of other like-minded people.

I have to admit, upon finding some really good blogs, I started to panic.  Oh crap, I thought – other people are already covering this stuff, only they’re doing it better.  They have degrees in marriage counseling and tons of experience, and they’ve written books on the subject.  They’re funny, they’re wise, and they’re fresh.  Also, they have better blog titles.  They beat me to the better titles! Crap crap crap.

A couple of really good blogs I’ve been reading now for a few weeks are the following:

Simple Marriage – this is written by an experienced family therapist with a PhD and a published book to his name.  He writes from a Christian perspective.  I really like his philosophy in general.

Project Happily Ever After – this blog unfortunately has a title similar to mine except that it is (more) awesome.  I only discovered it after I had come up with my own.  The author is hilarious and quirky, and is currently trying to put her recently-acquired Buddhist principles into practice in her marriage. She’s a terrific writer and blends humour and wisdom beautifully.  I kind of wish I was her instead of me, to tell you the truth.

After running across these blogs and others I spent a couple of days feeling a teensy bit crappy about myself, feeling unoriginal and inexperienced, and unable to contribute anything new or valuable to the discussion.  What do I know, anyway, about marriage or life in general? Or blogging, for that matter?

But as I continued to read these blogs over a couple of weeks (gaining lots of wisdom and insight from them in the meantime, not to mention entertainment), I noticed a common theme emerging from them: these blogs are mostly about saving marriages.  They are directed towards people who are already married and want to make their (usually failing) marriages better. They offer advice from their deep wellsprings of experience.

I know I can’t offer anything in the way of saving or improving marriages.  I can’t offer advice or tips. I have only four years of experience being married, and absolutely no background in counseling of any sort.  I’ve never even read a whole book on marriage (who can?) – I’ve only started about half a dozen.  So it was never my intention to try to help people in their marriages.

My main interest for this blog, I came to realize, has always been to encourage people to actually give marriage a try. I don’t know a thing about the baby boomers who are currently struggling through their marriages, but I do know a lot about their kids.  I’m one of them.  And I know that most of the kids of my generation are disenchanted with marriage. Half of us come from broken families and got a bad taste of marriage from looking at our parents’ relationships.  Those of us whose parents stayed together often didn’t have a much better experience, living with parents who seem to have given up on life and settled for mediocre existences.  The movies and television that we watch glamorize casual sex and present marriage in an unpleasant light.  Kids from my generation, therefore, are skeptical and cynical about marriage, or at best we’re apathetic.  We see marriage as something that you consider only after you’ve established your career and made yourself “financially secure”: you get married when you’re ready to “settle down” (i.e. to  stop having fun and start acting responsible).  So we put it off and put it off, dreading the day when we have put on the proverbial ball and chain.

I want to see that change.  I want my peers to see that marriage is sexy, hilarious, and very romantic.   I want to expose the beauty and the excitement and vibrancy of married life.  I know that Ben and I are not the coolest, hippest, or even happiest people in the world.  In fact we’re quite whiny and lonerish.  We don’t get out much and we’re both not very successful according to society’s standards.

But we’re so happy to be married.  We’re not happy about much in life but we love living together, we love having each other to rely on, we love sex (oops . . . did I just write that?), and we really think more people ought to try this marriage thing out.

Let me say it again: I want to encourage people to give it a go.  Not to take marriage for a short-term test run, but to actually go ahead and jump in and make a lifelong commitment to the person they love.  Today.  Not when they’re thirty and financially stable, but as soon as they find the one whom they love and with whom they feel they could live forever, and who feels the same way about them.

I feel we are a generation of wait-ers.  We don’t want to grow up.  We sit around and think about making commitments.  We’re a generation too afraid loss of power and individuality to want to take that step.  We’re a generation too disappointed by our parents’ marriages to want to get entangled in the same old thing.  But I want to encourage my generation to be daring, to be adventurous and not settle for second-rate relationships.

I can’t offer advice on how to fix broken marriages but I hope I can offer hope and encouragement to people who have become hopeless about love and eternal romance.

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