“The Myths of Marriage (6)”
First Published: January 28, 1999
We have been challenged and encouraged by the series of very helpful articles on marriage by Dr. Glen Knecht (of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC). This is the sixth of ten.
The Myths of Marriage (6): It takes work to make a good marriage
One by one we have been exposing fallacies in our thinking and conversation about marriage. These errors can occur in the thinking of single people, as they think about marriage for themselves or observe the marriages of others. The sixth myth that I would bring before you is that “it takes work to make a good marriage.”
On the face of it, that sounds most plausible and one hears it often. Sometimes you will see couples who roll up their sleeves and grit their teeth and determine to “work at their marriages.” The motive is an excellent one. It means that they are committed to give attention to what perhaps has been neglected, and to resurrect some things that may have died in their relationship. One has to commend this attitude and rejoice in the aspirations that are behind it.
But “work” is not what a marriage needs. The crucial ingredient for regenerating a marriage or making a good marriage even better is time, not work. I mean by that, lavish, huge, extravagant, wasteful amounts of time given to each other. What a precious commodity time is, and we dole it out parsimoniously. But when it comes to the most important connection with any human being, all these measures of conservation are thrown to the winds. We splurge time on one another, investing it, as it were, with reckless abandon because we know it is the way to spell “love.”
Sometimes we make a distinction between “quality” and “quantity” time. For our purposes here, these two must be rolled together. We must think of large amounts of time filled with happy and interesting moments. It is not a choice between which kind of time, both quality and quantity should be merged for the sake of our beloved.
When you think about your courtship, it was a very time consuming activity in your life. You thought nothing of giving long stretches to each other for walks and activities or for just talking together, just looking at each other’s faces. You didn’t keep glancing at your watches to see whether you could afford the time or not. You delighted in it and gladly gave it, because you were being drawn into the tender confines of human love and ultimately into marriage.
What is needed to rejuvenate marriage is to go back to the courtship model, to once more be together with or without program, to be in close proximity as genuine companions to one another. How needful that is. Nothing on earth is more important than the way you love your spouse. Nothing is worth cutting short or crimping this precious time given to each other, because marriage is doing whatever it takes to love one person.
This is the cost of loving that one person: great amounts of time given without regret or resentment; opening up in one’s life areas, vast areas, where the other person can find a home, a friendly space, an unhurried peace, and a serenity within the heart of the beloved.
May God give us the grace to love one another at the expense of out time.