Our wedding pictures are packed. This was taken about twenty years ago.
A few days ago, I came across a column written by Mr. Anthony D’Ambrosio, a contributing author for app.com. His piece was titled, “5 Reasons We Can’t Handle Marriage Anymore.” There were some who were offended by Mr. D’Ambrosio’s words. But I chose to see his piece as a commentary on a society that has lost its way when it comes to what real love is and how marriage encourages and deepens that love. I found his word to be honest and sad, because underneath it all, I think what he’s really writing about is how we’ve allowed our views on love, sex, and communication in marriage to be determined by everything outside of ourselves, instead of learning how to come together to foster what comes from the inside.
After writing the rough draft of this piece, I ran it by my husband, Larry. When I write about any aspect of our personal life, I give him veto power. After all, it’s his story, too. He asked I not include the part I had written about sex. Sorry to disappoint. But, this whole scenario brings up an important aspect about what sex really means.
Sex doesn’t have to be about ripping each other’s clothes off. We’ve let the media fool us into thinking sex is about frequency and steam. What’s forgotten is that the core of sex is really about intimacy. And intimacy doesn’t start or end in the bedroom. It begins in the little things done out of consideration. It begins in the kitchen, making a meal and a conversation together. It begins in the office, where I ask Larry how he feels about me sharing a personal piece of our lives on my blog. It begins in the everyday small acts of courtesy, loyalty, thoughtfulness, and tenderness. For those expecting steamy bodice ripping passion three or four times a week, I guess this can appear pretty boring. But these things build on each other to create a desire that goes way beyond shower scenes, making sex a fulfilling and tender experience. This doesn’t happen in a day or even in three years. (Mr. D’Ambrosio was married for three years.) It happens over time, as couples commit to one another and their marriage “for better or worse.”
Because “worse” does and will happen. The history in any marriage isn’t always going to be happy or good. When I talk to young people about marriage, I tell them they will inevitably go through hard times. I’m not talking about a bad day or even a bad couple of months. I’m saying that it’s quite possible for marriage to suffer bad years. There will be cancer diagnoses, accidents, tears, mean words, and fights. This doesn’t mean we’re faking it when we choose to stay together. And it doesn’t mean we’re going to be “miserable” for the rest of our lives (D’Ambrosio, 2015). It means we understand that marriage is a work in progress, with “work” and “progress” being operative words. Marriage isn’t an amusement park, where we get to pick and choose the rides.
These experiences become parts of our history—surviving cancer together, working through changes that come with growth, so we grow together instead of away from one another and yes, even tackling financial hardships are all a part of the rich tapestry that creates a history of a marriage that enriches and bonds couples together. And as nice as it would be to avoid these life experiences, going through cancer, the growing pains, and the financial hardship can teach us to appreciate that $200,000 home when we can finally afford it, the romantic weekend at the beach, or the moments in life when our health is good, our finances are intact, and the laundry in the basket is folded.
But the main point Mr. D’Ambrosio makes is how we’ve come to a place where “our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved” (D’Ambrosio, 2015). Wow! What a stinging and honest thing to say. In this rebuke, he states that social media has taken over the lives of his generation. His connection between our infatuation with social media and our need for attention is a staggering commentary, but for many this could be an unhappy truth.
Attention is attractive. It rarely requires anything from us. And with social media, it’s almost instant in its gratification. However, when we replace attention for love, we’re treating marriage like something we pick up at the fast food restaurant and discard when our fries get cold. Love and marriage is more like a home cooked meal, made from scratch with ingredients that require a great deal of time and care with the gratification coming only after time spent in the creation of the food.
The ingredients for love and marriage are simple and time tested. Patience, thoughtfulness, loyalty, fidelity, and time—just plain old boring time, come together to create something more nourishing and satisfying than anything we could get from a drive-thru or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Love and marriage makes a place for us to lay down our burden in the care of another. It creates rest, nurturing, and depth of heart and life. It makes space for us to share our most honest selves with another soul. And that, my friends, is better than anything we can pick up at Burger King.
D’Ambrosio, A. (2015, April 9). 5 reasons we can’t handle marriage anymore. Retrieved from app.com: http://www.app.com/story/life/family/relationships/2015/04/06/reasons-marriage-just-work-anymore/25349495/