We are surrounded by images of marriage that are based on fairy tales and fantasies – fantasies of permanence, security, living happily ever after. However, real marriages are anything but a fantasy. Reality has its way of making itself known, whether through disappointment, betrayal, conflict, illness, financial difficulties, or simply unexpected change.
When our fantasies about what marriage is supposed to be are confronted by reality – we encounter a profound choice. A choice to fight and cling to our illusions - resenting anything or anyone that dares to interfere or to align ourselves with a greater purpose, a purpose that goes beyond simply “getting what we want” or “achieving our goals.” This greater purpose is to use marriage, and all that comes with it, as a spiritual path – a path of growth and evolution.
Marriage as a spiritual path means committing to loving one another as you really are not as you had imagined or wanted each other to be. It means committing to accepting and loving yourselves even when the pettiest and most immature parts of your beings emerge in protest at life not going as planned.
This kind of commitment is more profound than a contract to simply remain together. It is not a commitment to a specific future or a specific outcome, but to a process, a process that is unfolding and unknown – yet to be discovered.
It is a commitment to the journey not to the destination. It is a commitment to meet what life has in store in its entirety, the joy and bliss along with the pain and disappointment, and to use all of these moments as opportunities to open your hearts wider, to love more deeply, and to wake up and take full advantage of your precious time together on this planet.
In order to make marriage a spiritual path we must learn to lean in and to surrender. Lean in to your own and to each other’s fears and insecurities so that you know them so intimately that you can hold each and every one of them with compassion. It means leaning in to each other’s passion and angry protests at moments of broken connection.
It means surrendering to each other’s intelligence and wisdom instead of needing to be right, and it means surrendering to your marriage as it actually is in any given moment, even when that moment sucks and you want to run away. In order to thrive and grow we must be willing to start from where we actually are.
This kind of journey is not for the faint of heart, but you are not the faint of heart. Everyday you lean in with courage to aspects of life that you would rather not face. You have everything you need for this journey. You have your brilliant minds, your huge tender hearts, your love, your family, friends and community.
May your love and commitment to one another and to your shared journey continue to grow and may we all learn from your example.
This was written for the occasion of the wedding of dear friends on Oct 1, 2016
Nat Roman is a Registered Psychotherapist with a Master of Science in Couple and Family Therapy and a BA in Psychology and additional specialized training in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) processes, community based restorative conflict circles, and fifteen plus years studying, practicing and teaching mindfulness meditation practices and Buddhist psychology. In an earlier stage of life Nat worked as a professional musician and strongly believes that creativity is an essential part of life, whether one is engaged in a formal creative discipline, problem solving, or attempting to get kids off to school in the morning.