I’ll Take Marriage

Mike regaled me with gifts this Christmas: a coat from Land’s End, new cookware, dress gloves, and, to top it off, a two-night stay at the Marriot in Lancaster, PA. I gasped when we pulled up—can we afford this?? Mike assured me that off-season rates made the hotel affordable, and we got “free buffet breakfast!” as he repeatedly said with a certain gusto. I think the conquestual nature of men makes finding good bargains feel like killing the Mastodon. I flashed on my father bringing home cheap, greasy, delicious food from the Flamingo Bar in Destin, Florida, reveling in the low price. Such men have one foot on the Mastodon’s neck and a chicken leg in their right hand. Or, in Mike’s case, a bran muffin.

Before we tasted a crumb of the buffet breakfast, though, we soaked up another perk: the hotel pool. It took a while for the underused hot tub to warm up, but once it did we had a nice bubble and a lovely chat with a man from Boston who turned out to be a pastor, missionary, and, like me, crusader for clergy abuse prevention. We knew so many of the same people, places and causes, that our talk conclusively proved the six degrees of separation theory. One example: a sister church of his rents from the Beverly, MA Adventist church where my daughter will be giving a concert this month.

The following day, Sunday, Mike and I laid out some loose plans: we’d hike, then shop, then eat at the Olive Garden, then check out a Christmas light show, then come back for more bubbly time in the hot tub and pool. Little did we realize that the hiking options stunk. Lancaster is Amish farm country, flat as a . . . . well, a corn field. Shopping was abysmal, too—it was religious, Sunday-keeping Amish country and almost none of their cute little shops were open! (See above root bear sign.) The (non-Amish) Christmas lights, for which we were supposed to pay $7 per car, were little more than a football field full of blow-up Santas and Walmart reindeer (see above). A break from the malfunctions came with the Olive Garden. Now I see the beauty of franchise. One always knows one will get what one expects.

As Mike and I enjoyed the predictably delicious eggplant, salad, and minestrone, we talked. It’s amazing how two people who’ve been in each others’ presence nonstop for thirty years can still find something to talk about, but we did. We counseled on interpersonal dramas, swapped opinions about people and events, and reminisced of times past.

To summarize: In this day of find-your-soulmate, I recommend marriage, where you make your soulmate. In times of it’s-just-not-working, I recommend marriage, where you work it out. When the mindset all around says, “Rich emotional fulfillment above all else, even if you have to divorce to find it,” I recommend marriage, because when you’re wrinkled and incontinent it will be very emotionally fulfilling to have the spouse of your youth look in your fading eyes and say, “I remember when you were twenty-five.”

Thanks, Mike, for the last thirty years. And the Christmas vacation at the Marriot.

Happenings:

A major Alison Brook tour will take place in New England this January and February. Come out for the blessing! See details at www.alisonbrook.com.

I’m working on a book, Jesus Psychology, due to be published by Pacific Press this spring. I’m also discussing with the staff of Hope TV the possibility of doing 13 shows based on the book. If you feel that the message of biblical inner healing needs more exposure, contact Hope TV and tell them you recommend me: Call 888-446-7388 or email Kandus Thorp at thorpk@hopetv.org

6 thoughts on “I’ll Take Marriage

  1. Gina Blake

    So true Jennifer! Most people just don’t get what marriage really is. You really put it into words so well. My great aunt sent me a card just prior to my wedding. She wrote on it, “You marry the one you love, and then you learn to love the one you married.” Needless to say, I didn’t get it at the time… but I sure do “get it” now!

  2. John Coneff

    Jennifer: Thanks for sharing. I was struck with the statement on how married couples continue to find things to talk about. They do! Even after many years. Of course, it does help if you invest in each other, as well as yourself. If one only invests in the other, then there’s not much to share. Our premarital counselor told us, “To be successful in marriage it’s not 50/50. You each have to be willing to give 100%, because sometimes the other won’t be contributing.” After two and a half decades I’d seen the wisdom of those words first hand. I’m in agreement. Divorce typically doesn’t solve the underlying problem. Working it out with someone that loves you does.

  3. Bob Mason

    Thanks for this counter to the words of Florence Nightingale in her essay, “Cassandra”:

    Look round at the marriages which you know. The true marriage — that noble union, by which a man and woman become together the one perfect being — probably does not exist at present upon earth.

    It is not surprising that husbands and wives seem so little part of one another. It is surprising that there is so much love as there is. For there is no food for it. What does it live upon — what nourishes it? Husbands and wives never seem to have anything to say to one another. What do they talk about? Not about any great religious, social, political questions or feelings. They talk about who shall come to dinner, who is to live in this lodge and who in that, about the improvement of the place, or when they shall go to London. If there are children, they form a common subject of some nourishment. But, even then, the case is oftenest thus, — the husband is to think of how they are to get on in life; the wife of bringing them up at home.

    But any real communion between husband and wife — any descending into the depths of their being, and drawing out thence what they find and comparing it — do we ever dream of such a thing? Yes, we may dream of it during the season of “passion,” but we shall not find it afterwards. We even expect it to go off, and lay our account that it will. If the husband has, by chance, gone into the depths of his being, and found there anything unorthodox, he, oftenest, conceals it carefully from his wife, — he is afraid of “unsettling her opinions.”

  4. Cynthia

    Hi Jennifer,
    Enjoyable read! Thanks for all the detail about your Christmas with Mike. This was our 40th married Christmas together and I love the fact that we don’t have to do any of the conventional things (like gift-giving, although we did, and tree-decorating, although I did)but it was sure nice to have our family come, and when one of the grandchildren was absent, at first we commiserated, and then we consoled ourselves that the other one was present. I’m not sure how much of a true team we were for most of our active parenting years, but we are a solid team as grandparents. I love that part of growing old together!

    @Bob, thanks for the insights from Florence Nightingale… I went in and read a neat little piece on her life… very inspiring. She didn’t marry, but I suppose she ‘observed’ the marriages of others during her lengthy “retirement” (bedridden) period after she returned ill from the Crimea (and during which time she authored 200 books and pamphlets) and died at age 90.

    Thanks again, Jennifer, for your interesting blog!
    ~Cynthia

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