André Maurois said, “Marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day”. No truer words were ever spoken. André’s full quote is even more revealing. “Marriage is not something that can be accomplished all at once; it has to be constantly re-accomplished. A couple must never indulge in idle tranquillity with the remark; ‘The game is won; let’s relax’. The game is never won. The chances of life are such that anything is possible. Remember what the dangers are for both sexes in middle age. A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day”.
André Maurois has really set out the challenge we men as fathers face daily. On the other hand, the words of Theodore Hesburgh highlight why we must rise to the occasion each day. “the most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”. To me, this is perfectly logical but for some men it seems like rocket science. Let me assure you, from all my study of marriage and family that Andre and Theodore are 100% correct.
That’s why my wife and I, last year, after 42 years of marriage, decided to attend the Adventure of Marriage weekend at Stanwell Tops. You have to keep investing in love all the time. The maxim, “the price of safety is eternal vigilance” reminds us that effort is needed. Andre Maurois earlier quote sums it all up. “Marriage is not something that can be accomplished all at once; it has to be constantly re-accomplished.
The Adventure of Marriage was just what it said it would be. Yes, they gave short lectures with valuable input, but it was the practical assignments that brought out both the adventure and the joy.
The first night at the Adventure of Marriage we had the chance to learn some simple dance steps. Neither my wife or I are dancers, so this was an adventure for both of us. We steeled our souls and did our very best. The fact that my wife did Physical Culture in her youth gave her an edge on me which I gratefully took advantage of. Before long we were dancing, and we looked half good and felt a glowing sense of achievement as well as feeling a tad romantic.
In many ways, life is like a dance and marriage more so. In fact, the parallel with dancing as a couple and enjoying a successful marriage is ridiculously real. Someone has to lead out with the steps. Sometimes it is the man and sometimes it is the woman. It varies with the dance and with the steps. Each has to allow the other to lead when necessary and cover for each other’s mistakes.
My wife can draw attention to my mistaken step or she can adroitly move on and hide my error and I can do the same for her. By necessity, marriage is the ultimate in self revelation and as Mike Mason says, ‘self immolation’. You cannot hide your faults from you wife, neither can she from you. The challenge is we must keep working on these faults while giving grace to each other in the process of change. As Mike Mason said in The Mystery of Marriage, “To keep a vow, means not to keep from breaking it, but rather to devote the rest of one’s life to discovering what the vow means, and to be willing to change and to grow accordingly”.
To give you an example in our family we had four boys and one girl. At one of our family dinners, when they all lived at home, we had a heated but friendly discussion about our family policy with the toilet seat. Polite etiquette would dictate toilet seat and lid down but with a five to two ratio of boys to girls, it was duly decided that our family policy was toilet seat up at all times.
Recently, as only my wife and I are in the home, this discussion came up again. I could have pointed to the precedent of the past, but I had to accept the words and wisdom of Mike Mason, “to be willing to change and to grow accordingly”. I must confess I am struggling with the new policy to honour my wife’s wishes but slowly I am getting better. As Allan Meyer says, “Men get the right to die first”.
The practical experience of learning how to dance at the Adventure of Marriage helped me enormously. André is right, “Marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day”.
I encourage you to invest in your marriage and consider booking in for the Adventure of Marriage weekend at Stanwell Tops, 23-25 November 2018. Book here. Alison and I have taken part in many marriage seminars and retreats and we can honestly say without hesitation it is the best marriage weekend we have ever attended.
It is practical, fun, challenging and is guaranteed to bring you closer together in more ways than one, and you too might just learn how to keep the toilet seat down, and what a bonus that would be!
Yours for more love adventures
PS: International Men’s Day is getting closer, Monday 19 November 2018. The theme is ‘Positive Male Role Models’. Check out the website for ideas on how to celebrate this event.