The Art of Marriage

The Art of Marriage

The Art of Marriage

A close friend of mine has been struggling in her marriage for the past 6 months.  This friend has been married for 23 years, all of their children are almost off to college, her husband owns his own business and travels frequently, and she is having some medical issues.  For her, all of their marital issues has been slowly happening over the past few years.  Now that it has reached its climax, she feels backed into a corner and doesn’t know where to turn.


Another friend of ours was present for the conversation.  At one point the comment was made, “If I knew that marriage was going to be so hard I would never have done it.  It’s a lot of work!”  We all laughed.  My struggling friend turned to me and said, “I don’t know. You and Tom {Reverend Dugan} don’t seem to have problems.”  I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Oh, we do.  There’s not one day that goes by that we don’t hold each other accountable.  We both do things that drives each other nuts, but we get through it.”  That was my immediate statement, which summed up things pretty easily.  I could have wrapped that statement up in a box, put a bow on it, and called it done.  But, since that conversation I have thought more and more on the art of marriage, because truly, it is an art.  Marriage is something that is created over time, and just like any type of art, must be constantly tweaked and honed into shape to remain stable, versatile, and yet, ever-changing.


In one of our Ceremony Scripts, in the Charge to the Couple section this paragraph is one that we use often:


Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In the art of marriage the little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say, I love you” (out loud), at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is at no time taking the other for granted. . . for what you take for granted, disappears. It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in a spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is having the capacity to forgive and not bring it up later. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful in each other. It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have the wings of an angel. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is BEING the right partner. 


Reverend Dugan and I have been married once before.  This isn’t something we hide and feel ashamed about.  Our previous marriages taught us a lot about ourselves and the mistakes we made damaged those relationships.  Coming out on the other side of divorce you have to accept those (very!) hard learning experiences.  So, when we decided to get married to each other it was with a different view and intent than our first marriages.  We were more prepared.


For our couples that are planning their wedding, a few tips for you that hopefully will save you some stress:


  • Don’t get caught up in the planning and forget about the future. After your wedding day, you have the rest of your life to spend with each other.  The wedding is one day.  Make your wedding day magical, but also be excited about spending the rest of your life with this one person.


  • Make your wedding about yourselves and not about everyone else.  Take time to budget and plan appropriately.  After you are legally married, your debt becomes each other’s debt.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew.


  • Check in with each other, daily!  What does this mean?  This means having an open conversation about anything and everything.  Is your mom complaining that the wallpaper in your reception room won’t match the bridesmaid dresses?  Is your maid of honor a slacker?  Are you worried that one of the groomsmen is going to get drunk and make a scene?  These are issues that can easily be discussed, but it goes beyond this.  Tell each other that it’s nice to be able to vent.  Not every problem is going to be solved (sorry mom, I am not changing the color of my bridesmaid dresses).   Tell each other that this is stressful, but after it’s all over, you are looking forward to building your life together.  Open communication is key to having a good relationship.


For my struggling friend, I give her support.  That is what she needs right now.  I remind her that marriage is work and she has to work on it everyday for their marriage to last.

For our married-couples-to-be:  Enjoy the planning process.  Have fun with it!   Be excited about your future together!   The time and effort you put into your relationship now will set the pace for how you deal with major issues in the future.  Be each other’s counsel, teacher, advocate and friend.


-Leah D