A post over at livenowandzen this morning reminded me of the lecture given to my mom and dad when they drove across a state border, picked a name out of the minister section of the yellow pages and got hitched without needing pesky parental signatures:
“You must understand that you are not just two people getting married. There is who Dallas thinks he is, who you think he is and who he really is and the same goes for you. You will spend a lifetime learning to integrate these six personalities into one union.”
Of course, the pre-marriage counseling was longer and probably not exactly as paraphrased above, but you get the idea.
Add to this wonderful six-some, the scientific belief that within seven years, every cell in our body has died and been replaced by a new one. Hence, there is not a single thing about me that is the same as 7 years ago…
We now have, just by basic thought processes and biology, 42 different variables –
Hey! I like to do math my own way, -k-?
Add to this the notion that we grow into new passions and out of old ones – we change our life priorities due to epiphanies and traumas.
Count the number of life-changing moments you’ve experienced, multiply by 3 (your half of the marriage personality equation), and then take that times 3 (to account for the perspectives of the other three personalities in your marriage).
Take this number and multiply it by 10 every time you answer yes to the following questions:
- Has your household been under financial strain?
- Is a member of your household terminally or chronically ill?
- Do extended family support or hate your union?
After doing my own version of math, I’m no longer surprised that after 17 years, we ended up divorced.
Because that number represents the odds-to-1 that a marriage faces.
Shortly after the death of my son, we found ourselves in counseling. I learned that 87% of couples who lose a child end up divorced. I really wanted to be in the 13% who made it –
It was not to be, because aforementioned odds were already a long shot even before the child was lost.
But it has clarified my thinking on the matter – – And what I’ve learned has helped me in relationships other than marriage.
There is only so well I can know someone – and often, I must admit, I really don’t know them at all –
I may have known them well years ago, but if I haven’t kept in touch with them – haven’t kept up with their growth – I may find myself having tea one day and conversing as if I’m talking to someone that existed 15 years ago, but is no longer here.
And they may do the same.
I sometimes think the hardest thing in relationships is learning to really see who shows up, today. To be open to hearing and observing the unique person that stands in front of us, rather than just airbrushing our picture of who we think they are over the canvas of Now.
And I think that’s probably the true secret of those who stay married till death do us part – they’ve learned how to negotiate being married to a brand new person, everyday.