It was the first night of our last Passion for Life Couples Intimacy Retreat. The room was softly lit and around the room sat 12 couples – all with appetizers and a glass of champagne. They had been married anywhere from 2 years to 35. "Raise your hand if you knew exactly what you were getting yourself into when you said your wedding vows?" I said to the group. Strained laughter broke out. No hands lifted.
"None of you?" "Do you know why that is?" "The best kept secret about marriage is that this radically valuable and radically imperfect human sitting next to you, that you fell head over heels for, all those years ago, was actually not put on this earth to make you feel the way you did when you got engaged!"
The daily practice of marriage is a spiritual practice that invites you to grow up, show up and shape up.
Marriage is often super hard and amazingly elegant. That's the whole point! Marriage is here to teach you to be a lover. Each of you. A real lover in the fullest sense of the word. When your partner is hard to love, when you don't feel loving ... THIS is exactly the time when, rather than blame or react, you are being invited to go inside, take a deep breath, and become your better self. This is how you become a better lover. You grow a little more. You grow up, show up, and shape up! This is what I call the spiritual practice of marriage.
When each partner, reaches deep inside, and practices being his or her better self by practicing this spiritual practice of marriage, not only do they begin to grow more into the person God intended, but so does their marriage. This is the secret of marriage. And this is God's beautiful intended gift in marriage if we let Him do His work in and through our partners.
We are God's Beloved and we are called to a life of Love. Marriage is our practice ground for this daily spiritual practice.
It's not always easy, in fact, it is often very humbling. But so goes growing our character! Remember this and you will have a rich life. Forget this and risk believing all the cultural lies about how your partner is supposed to make you feel and look good. Forget this and you will watch consumerism steal all the joy from your life and your marriage. This is what happens to most marriages when they stop paying attention to this daily practice.
Russell and Ciara - Tuck this secret deep in your hearts. You know this intuitively now, when your love is strong, loving is easy and your intention is high. But saying your vows is a commitment to live this spiritual practice every day whether you feel it or not, when loving is hard, when having intention takes purpose and priority, when you feel hurt, betrayed, or disappointed - and you will at times - because this is the practice ground where God will make you a lover and grow you into who you were meant to be ...
... people of great character with a marriage that makes a difference. I hope you will decide, with God's help, to make your life and love an inspiration to others and a place of constant nourishment! xo