The Being and Becoming of Marriage
We always marry someone other than the person we think we are marryng. Always.
Down the road, one month, one year, five years (most likely all of those times), we wake up one morning and realize that the person next to us is not the person we committed ourselves to on our wedding day. Of course, with a bit of reflection, we realize that we ourselves are not the same person. Our steady-as-a-rock self-mage falters. Marriage, instead of 'settling us down,' sets us on a path of continual relational challenges and constant self discovery, derived as it is from a full acquaintance with the deepest channels of our love and tenderness, our frustration and rage.
The wedding service, and marriage itself, are most often portrayed as the culmination of the most difficult part of this intimate relationship, finding the right person. Once found, the music swells, closing credits fill the screen and an assumed/desired 'happily ever after' takes over. Even if we know this not to be true, we still want it to be true.
The wedding service often perpetuates this erroneous view. People pledge their love and commitment "forever" or "as long as we both shall live," implying that both love and commitment are qualities that persist unchanging over time. The emphasis is on 'being together come what may.'
As important as that commitment is to the maintaining one's will to stay married, another equally important commitment needs to accompany it: 'becoming together come what may.'
'Becoming together' is a recognition of the continual changing nature of life: the individuals involved, the relationship itself, any children entering the relationship, all accompanied by other changes of aging, switching jobs, moving locations and shifting economic status. Even the national mood and the world situation have an impact.
'Becoming together' is a recognition that we move into an ever changing future. 'Being together' is the establishing of a committed base undergirding the changes that inevitably take place. Marriage is, like one biblical definition of faith, "going forth not knowing where we are going."
Of course, what can be said of marriage is true of other aspects of our lives as well: we are part of an adventure which we cannot control, the end result of which we can never fully understand.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
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