This week, my favourite author, a person I admire and respect immensely, wrote a two part blog speaking to young men and women about how they can live a better love story. The two pieces – one written for women, the other for men – were interesting, and covered some valid points.
However, I do have a couple of issues with the articles.
Firstly, I feel that Don Miller may be setting the cart before the horse just a little in taking on his subject matter of choice. As someone who hasn’t been married quite yet, one might assume he is somewhat confined to making what amount to very educated guesses at issues he thinks might cause married couples problems in the future. For example, I can see how he might feel that advising women not to sleep around before they marry might help avoid some problems both for her and her husband, which it may. This brings me to my second point. As someone who’s been married twenty three years, I have actually found that many of the problems we think we will have after we get married, usually to do with something the other person has or hasn’t done, or will or will not do, are not the issues that end up causing a married cause their most significant problems.
I do see where Don is coming from in both his articles, and many of issues he discusses in Part One for women, and Part Two for men are relevant and certainly important. The fact remains, Miller doesn’t yet know what he doesn’t know. I think Don has generally presumed that great marriages will inevitably result from tight adherence to certain gender roles, consensus on power imbalances, pre-marital sexual abstinence and all round good organisation. These things can certainly help some people some of the time. But we’re talking about people here, people. I’ve known some wonderful couples – perfectly gender-role aligned, very happy with who wears the pants, who kept themselves for one another sexually and with a plan beginning at the honeymoon right through to buying funeral plots – with marriages that fell apart within a couple of years of the beautiful, very well-organsied wedding.
And then there’s my hubby and me. Teenagers. Had a child together. Married barely aged twenty. Me with a sexual history and probably a plethora of mental and emotional issues. My husband barely out of high school, never lived away from home, and pulling an employment income the equivalent of what we now spend on rent every week. We have been married – give or take – twenty three years. And many of the uber-Christian, ultra-celibate, double-income, well-travelled, mega-organised couples we were friends with that married much later than us are no longer married to each other. Have they failed? Did we succeed? It depends on how you look at it, I guess.
It’s my experience that if you want to find out who someone really is, it won’t be when you marry them. It will be if you divorce them.
I realise I take the risk of sounding like one of those cantankerous old killjoys who waggles their fingers while braying “It’s not all beer and skittles you know!” Sometimes marriage does get to be beer and skittles, or lemon squash, in our case, because the beer part caused us some rather awful problems, but we’ve had our happy share of skittles. Marriage is great, and ours has had some super times. But it’s had some terrible ones too. But not all the terrible times were caused by things we could have foreseen. I had cancer. We didn’t foresee that. How both of us would respond in that situation was completely unknowable and not something we could have prepared for. Yet it was both a turning point in our relationship, and a defining experience for us as individuals, and as a married couple. Here’s what I found -
The good parts of our marriage were not always a direct result of something we did that was right.
The bad parts of our marriage were not always a direct result of something we did that was wrong.
Doing things “right” sometimes meant absolutely nothing in the bigger picture.
Doing things “wrong” sometimes taught us stuff we couldn’t stay married unless we’d learned.
Things I have a problem with about him usually turn out to be a problem I have needs addressing.
Things he has a problem with about me usually turn out to be a problem he has needs addressing.
I am not always right.
He is not always wrong.
I have found it very useful to always presume when it comes to marriage – my own and others – that I see things as I am, and not they are. It’s useful, because saying “I’m sorry” can be harder a take a lot longer than simply admitting you don’t know it all and keeping an open mind and a shut mouth.
Don addressed the girls first, but I’ll be addressing the men and then the girls.
Read on….if you want to live.