What can you say after you say ‘I’m sorry?’

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Re-imagining Marriage

How can you prove that you are sincere? What do you do when someone you love blames you? How can you take a moment of truth and let it change you? These lyrics from 40 or 50 years ago, capture something worth noticing.

Marriage is not a lot of things but for sure one thing it's not is a psychotherapy clinic. It was never intended to harbor all the many interpretations, theories, diagnoses, analyses and speculations we bring to it.

We live with many voices who want to speculate on men and how they behave and on women, and what they really want. My voice has been one of them, so in this piece I'm clearly inside the glass house. My 'stones' are meant as reminders.

I was listening to a sports talk show prior to the opening of round two of the National Basketball playoffs. The heads were analyzing what it would take for the home team to win. They blathered on for several minutes before I changed the station to a local classical station and enjoyed some Bach.

But it got me thinking that these sport guys speculations and opinions were a lot like talk I hear among married couples. We theorize but we miss the central reality. We miss talking about what we most need and what we're most afraid of. Perhaps we feel safer in our theories but theories do not bring us closer.

What's marriage for? Marriage is a sort of container that 'holds' two people in partnership while they grow up. Marriage is an agreement that I'll work hard to be all I can be and I'll recognize the same in my partner. Marriage is a commitment not so much to love but to be loving. It helps us re-imagine what we're here for because it helps us understand community in its most basic form.

Marriage is a potential cure for the residual narcissism we bring from adolescence. Marriage teaches us that it really isn't all about me. That others depend on my ability to grasp a bigger picture, stretch my caring to include the struggle of another, and develop and deepen my capacity for empathy.

Your marriage is a Petri dish. It is an experimental lab where two actual human beings with real but different histories get to discover the effects of interacting with each other. They get to become a third thing, a new creation really and that creation results from taking risks, intentional exploration, focusing on loving truth, and compassion for the idiosyncrasies of another.

If you throw children into the mix you'll soon see that the creative possibilities are endless. But you have to volunteer.

Healthy families embrace conflict. But they do so with love.

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