Love Starts In Passion and Ends In Carpools

Some people (too many people) get married with crazy expectations. They say things like, “Now that I’ve found my soul mate, I’m going to be truly happy” or “She’s exactly what I’ve always wanted” or “When I’m with him I feel complete and whole.” I think that all that’s silly and slightly ridiculous. These are the kind of things people say before they are married but not after they’ve been married any significant amount of time.

An old friend of mine said that before he got married he thought that it was going to be naked bliss. But he found out that when two sinful people enter into the deepest of all human relationships, it’s not always and only naked bliss but also a multiplication of sin.

Because most marriages are a mixture of great companionship and tough learning experiences, the wise person is always on the lookout for helpful marriage advice no matter where it comes from. Enter David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times and a self identified, if not especially observant, Jew.

In Monday’s column, Brooks compared the view of human nature that says that we are all rational and good and that happiness is easy to find with the view that says that “We are, to varying degrees, foolish, weak, and often just plain inexplicable — and always will be.” Your view of yourself and your spouse will deeply affect your approach to marriage.

If you have a more positive view of human nature, you are more likely to think that you need to resolve all arguments before you go to bed because if you just talk it through, you’ll end up agreeing on the issue. If you have a more realistic (I’d say biblical) view of human nature you know that sometimes you just have to go to bed with things unresolved and that’s okay. Arguing when you’re tired and grumpy isn’t going to help and most things seem better after a good night’s sleep and decent breakfast.

(See Lydia Netzer’s post “15 ways to stay married for 15 years“).

A good marriage is built on the reality that we are deeply flawed people and our expectations need to be adjusted to fit that reality. Couples who know their own sin and personal frailties choose to “find the annoying endearing and the silly adorable.” They are anti-perfectionists and realize that sometimes no amount of dialogue will lead to agreement. They learn that “Love starts in passion and ends in carpools.”

Every marriage is comprised of two sinners. There’s no other option. Happiness is possible but it won’t come easily or automatically. It’s found by those who learn to bear with one another and show patience and extend grace and forgive. That’s the truth whether you find it in the Bible or the newspaper.

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