Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Marriage: What Did You Expect?

Last night I began pre-marital counseling with a young couple I'll be marrying later this summer. I brought last Sunday's Parade Magazine with me because it contains what I think is a valuable illustration. Each week the inside cover is home to answers to questions about celebrities' lives and careers mailed in by readers. The first question asked whether a popular morning show host's six year marriage is over. Here's how the magazine answered (I've omitted the names.):

Over? No. On the rocks? Yes. [wife]....resents [husband's] long absences on assignments for [the show]. He even cut short his coverage of Pope John Paul II's funeral to pacify his temperamental wife. Friends say [husband] will do anything to save the marriage for the sake of his kids...
Not to be insensitive to the Mrs., but the first question I had when reading this was: "What did she expect?" It's hard to believe that someone could be romantically involved with the host of a leading national morning news show for any length of time and be ignorant of how demanding his schedule is. Who knows? Perhaps she at one time found his globetrotting career intriguing. It may have been part of what attracted her to him in the first place. Whether or not that's the case, now, if what Parade reports is true, she resents that things now are as they were when she said "I do."

Our marriages may never be written about in a newspaper magazine but those of us who are married can probably relate on some level to what's going on with this celebrity couple. Caught in the throes of romance we might have played down those "minor irritants" we saw in our spouse-to-be, maybe even thinking to ourselves that given enough time we could eradicate them. Or maybe we didn't give thought to the potentially irksome side of what we initially found so captivating. The point I wanted to make to this young couple was that it's important to consider what their expectations of each other are and to enter into the covenant of marriage with their eyes open to each other's faults.

Those contemplating marriage (as well as those already bound) would do well to heed the counsel offered by Puritan pastor Richard Baxter in his The Mutual Duties of Husbands and Wives Toward Each Other. He gives a series of directives for maintaining love, the third of which reads, "Be not too hasty, but know beforehand all the imperfections which may tempt you to despise your future mate."

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