I have a confession to make. I’m a ‘marriage junkie’.
What is a marriage junkie and why am I one?
Maybe it’s because my own mum and dad had such a shocking marriage. The Boys in Blue had to come down and adjudicate the fights. For my brother and I, growing up in World War III was a pretty difficult experience. Maybe it was a mixture of my Dad’s Australian-born English heritage, and my mum’s fiery Scottish temperament that caused such regular explosions. I just don’t know. It could have been the fact that they married late in life and found it hard to change. Whatever the case I loved them both, but I’m not sure if they loved each other. Although they must have stopped fighting long enough to climb into bed to conceive my brother and I – surely that says something!
My definition of a marriage junkie is someone who is addicted to having a better marriage, or maybe as Robert Palmer said, it’s being ‘addicted to love’. How long have I had this compulsive disorder? Let me see – I think it would be about 38 years since this problem first surfaced. I can still remember the day it first occurred – 29 November 1975. I walked down the aisle of a little pokey church in my white suit, with flares, and then a bit later my wife-to-be walked down with her Dad. Mind you, she was on time, while I was late because I had forgotten the rings. This propensity for failure seems to be the story of my life. A couple of years ago I found that I was not alone in my ability to fail. My friend Greg Jasper told me that the secret for his successful marriage was his forgiving wife. My wife had to exercise forgiveness that day, and probably every day since, which is just one of the reasons I’m a marriage junkie, and I’m still working on it!
Those words I said that fateful day when it all began, still come back to me: the minister asked, “Will you love her, comfort her, honour and keep her and be faithful to her as long as you both live?” I replied, “I will.” It was then that I took my bride’s hand and said these words, “I take you to be my wife. I accept you and you alone, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in prosperity, in agreement and in conflict, in times of comfort and in times of struggle, as long as we both live.” We then said together, “We acknowledge our responsibilities to each other and to society. As we are united in marriage before God, we commit ourselves to be faithful and to live in love and peace with each other and with all people.” The minister waved his magic wand and said, “You are now married,” and I’ve been addicted ever since. I began reading books about marriage / love, doing courses and seminars and trying to figure out exactly what I had gotten myself into.
Just the other week my wife and I had to do the homework that was set for the 35 warrior fathers at the Good to Great Training Course on Paluma mountain. This ‘lead by example stuff’ is such a pain. I wish there was a better way, but there is not, so I had to do what I told my warrior fathers to do. Part of the homework was to take your wife out for a date and ask her how you could be a better husband. My wife gave me a really simple but not unexpected answer – in two words. “Work less”. For a workaholic like me this is a big ask. Straight after the Summit we had two days off together which certainly seemed to recharge the love tanks. I have been working on my wife’s request ever since with varying degrees of success and failure. Love is such a hard thing to figure out, but when we do grasp it, it seems to slip through our fingers once again.
Sometimes we catch a glimpse of what love is all about in a song lyric, for example, Andrew Petersen puts it so well in his brilliant song ‘Dancing in the Minefields’:
“I do” are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard
Is a good place to begin
‘Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found
And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
The words of this popular haunting song seem to say much the same as those words I said thirty eight years ago, and maybe one day I’ll find out what they really mean!
Pull out your marriage vows and read them aloud to yourself.
Ask the question, “Why did I say those words and what do they mean today?”
If this is all too much for you, open up YouTube on your computer and with your wife go dancing in the minefields.
Yours for more marriage junkies