Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happiness Project - Remember Love

February's focus for the Happiness Project is appropriately on love and marriage. Rubin notes that, "working on my marriage was an obvious goal for my happiness project, because a good marriage is one of the factors most strongly associated with happiness...the atmosphere of my marriage set the weather for my whole life" (39). This one is not about setting any goals but rather reflecting on where you are and brainstorming where you want to be.

Daryl and I have known each other for 29 years, been together for 13 and married for 10. We got married at the ages of 25 and 23 respectively. We were married for five years before the children came along, and while it was not our choice to wait that long, those years were a wonderful blessing. We got so much time to be just us - learn about each other and do things together, especially travel. The first two years were probably the hardest and the most fruitful in many ways. We spent the first two years of our married life in Kentucky as I was finishing up my MDiv degree. We were completely on our own, far away from all of the family, friends and church that had supported us for all our lives. And that time forced us to lean on each other and grow together in our relationship in ways that probably would not have happened had we lived near both of our close-knit families. Those who know us well as a couple also know that Daryl and I have personalities which tend to complement and balance one another out very well. This was especially obvious when we worked together at Tice - in the office and with the youth group.

I am sad to say that at ten years of married life we have already outlasted several of our peers' marriages and even some of the marriages that I have performed as a pastor. What makes the difference between a marriage that lasts and one that does not? I'm not entirely sure, but I believe it has to do with being committed to a relationship beyond the fleeting feelings of being "in love" and that BOTH people must be committed to it and working on it. I know it has something to do with making faith central in your relationship - faith in one another and shared faith in God especially. And I'm certain that it has to do with the kind of agape love that Jesus modeled and that is described in I Corinthians 13 - love for another person that isn't rooted in what you get back but in what you can give to the other person to build them up. As far as commitment goes, Daryl and I made the conscious decision when we got engaged that divorce was not an option for us; it simply wasn't on the table. We did this because I had lived through the divorce of my own parents as a child and we had witnessed many family members and friends navigate the world of divorce and saw the far-reaching impact that it had. And while we've had our share of up and down times in our relationship - even though we're pastors, we are human! - knowing that this is it keeps us willing to hang in there and work things through. We've also committed to do something every year to get us working on our relationship - whether attending a marriage seminar, doing devotionals together, reading a book on marriage together, making sure to take our date day, or learning to communicate about finances through Financial Peace University.

But just staying together in a marriage doesn't guarantee happiness. Unfortunately, we also know lots of married people who are unhappy in their relationships. And so our greatest achievement is not that we've managed to somehow stay together for ten years, but that we have managed to build - with God's help - a relationship that has continued to grow and deepen over time and which brings us, more days than not, happiness and joy.

I love you Daryl. Happy Valentine's Day, sweetheart. Looking forward to many, many more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What great words for all. Thank you for sharing.
Aunt Jani