Hearts and Souls

A collection of thoughts, feelings and emotions that touches your soul. A train of thoughts, combined with poured-emotions and sheltered feelings... An outlet for those hidden desires, fantasies, and dreams dedicated to those large-hearted softies (pero feeling tough) individuals.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

PARTNERS AND MARRIAGE

I have never met a man who didn't want to be
loved. But I have seldom met a man who didn't fear
marriage. Something about the closure seems
constricting, not enabling. Marriage seems easier
to understand for what it cuts out of our lives than
for what it makes possible within our lives.

When I was younger this fear immobilized me. I
did not want to make a mistake. I saw my friends
get married for reasons of social acceptability, or
sexual fever, or just because they thought it was
the logical thing to do. Then I watched, as they
and their partners became embittered and petty in
their dealings with each other. I looked at older
couples and saw, at best, mutual tolerat ion of
each other. I imagined a lifetime of loveless nights
and bickering and could not imagine subjecting
myself or someone else to such a fate.

And yet, on rare occasions, I would see old
couples who somehow seemed to glow in each
other's presence. They seemed really in love, not
just dependent upon each other and tolerant of
each other's foibles. It was an astounding sight,
and it seemed impossible. How, I asked myself,
can they have survived so many years of
sameness, so much irritation at the other's habits?
What keeps love alive in them, when most of us
seem unable to even stay together, much less love
each other? The central secret seems to be in
choosing well. There is something to the claim of
fundamental compatibility. Good people can create
a bad relationship, even though they both dearly
want the relationship to succeed. It is important to
find someone with whom you can create a good
relationship from the outset. Unfortunately, it is
hard to see clearly in the early stages.

Sexual hunger draws you to each other and colors
the way you see yourselves together. It blinds you
to the thousands of little things by which
relationships eventually survive or fail. You need to
find a way to see beyond this initial overwhelming
sexual fascination. Some people choose to involve
themselves sexually and ride out the most heated
period of sexual attraction in order to see what is
on the other side. This can work, but it can also
leave a trail of wounded hearts. Others deny the
sexual side altogether in an attempt to get to know
each other apart from their sexuality. But they
cannot see clearly, because the presence of
unfulfilled sexual desire looms so large that it
keeps them from having any normal perception of
what life would be like together. The truly lucky
people are the ones who manage to become long-
time friends before they realize they are attracted
to each other. They get to know each other's
laughs, passions, sadness, and fears. They see
each other at their worst and at their best. They
share time together before they get swept into the
entangling intimacy of their sexuality.

This is the ideal, but not often possible. If you fall
under the spell of your sexual attraction
immediately, you need to look beyond it for other
keys to compatibility. One of these is laughter.
Laughter tells you how much you will enjoy each
other's company over the long term. If your
laughter together is good and healthy, and not at
the expense of others, then you have a healthy
relationship to the world. Laughter is the child of
surprise. If you can make each other laugh, you
can always surprise each other. And if you can
always surprise each other, you can always keep
the world around you new. Beware of a relationship
in which there is no laughter. Even the most
intimate relationships based only on seriousness
have a tendency to turn sour. Over time, sharing a
common serious viewpoint on the world tends to
turn you against those who do not share the same
viewpoint, and your relationship can become based
on being critical together.

After laughter, look for a partner who deals with the
world in a way you respect. When two people first
get together, they tend to see their relationship as
existing only in the space between the two of
them. They find each other endlessly fascinating,
and the overwhelming power of the emotions they
are sharing obscures the outside world. As the
relationship ages and grows, the outside world
becomes important again. If your partner treats
people or circumstances in a way you can't
accept, you will inevitably come to grief. Look at
the way she cares for others and deals with the
daily affairs of life. If that makes you love her more,
your love will grow. If it does not, be careful . If you
do not respect the way you each deal with the
world around you, eventually the two of you will not
respect each other.

Look also at how your partner confronts the
mysteries of life. We live on the cusp of poetry and
practicality, and the real life of the heart resides in
the poetic. If one of you is deeply affected by the
mystery of the unseen in life and relationships,
while the other is drawn only to the literal and the
practical, you must take care that the distance
doesnt become an unbridgeable gap that leaves
you each feeling isolated and
misunderstood.

There are many other keys, but you must find
them by ourself. We all have unchangeable parts
of our hearts that we will not betray and private
commitments to a vision of life that we will not
deny. If you fall in love with someone who cannot
nourish those inviolable parts of you, or if you
cannot nourish them in her, you will find yourselves
growing further apart until you live in separate
worlds where you share the business of life, but
never touch each other where the heart lives and
dreams. From there it is only a small leap to the
cataloging of petty hurts and daily failures that
leaves so many couples bitter and unsatisfied with
their mates.

So choose carefully and well. If you do, you will
have chosen a partner with whom you can grow,
and then the real miracle of marriage can take
place in your hearts. I pick my words carefully
when I speak of a miracle. But I think it is not too
strong a word. There is a miracle in marriage. It is
called transformation. Transformation is one of the
most common events of nature. The seed
becomes the flower. The cocoon becomes the
butterfly. Winter becomes spring and love
becomes a child. We never question these,
because we see them around us every day. To us
they are not miracles, though if we did not know
them they would be impossible to believe.
Marriage is a transformation we choose to make.
Our love is planted like a seed, and in time it
begins to flower. We cannot know the flower that
will blossom, but we can be sure that a bloom will
come. If you have chosen carefully and wisely, the
bloom will be good. If you have chosen poorly or for
the wrong reason, the bloom will be flawed. We are
quite willing to accept the reality of negative
transformation in a marriage. It was negative
transformation that always had me terrified of the
bitter marriages that I feared when I was younger.
It never occurred to me to question the dark
mi racle that transformed love into harshness and
bitterness. Yet I was unable to accept the
possibility that the first heat of love could be
transformed into something positive that was
actually deeper and more meaningful than the heat
of fresh passion. All I could believe in was the
power of this passion and the fear that when it
cooled I would be left with something lesser and
bitter. But there is positive transformation as well.
Like negative transformation, it results from a slow
accretion of little things. But instead of death by a
thousand blows, it is growth by a thousand
touches of love. Two histori es intermingle. Two
separate beings, two separate presence, two
separate consciousnesses come together and
share a view of life that passes before them. They
remain separate, but they also become one. There
is an expansion of awareness, not a closure and a
constriction, as I had once feared. This is n ot to
say that there is not tension and there are not
traps. Tension and traps are part of every choice of
life, from celibate to monogamous to having
multiple lovers. Each choice contains within it the
lingering doubt that the road not taken somehow
more fruitful and exciting, and each becomes
dulled to the richness that it alone contains. But
only marriage allows life to deepen and expand
and be leavened by the knowledge that two have
chosen, against all odds, to become one. Those
who live together without marriage can know the
pleasure of shared company, but there is a
specific gravity in the marriage commitment that
deepens that experience into something richer and
more complex.

So do not fear marriage, just as you should not
rush into it for the wrong reasons. It is an act of
faith and it contains within it the power of
transformation.

If you believe in your heart that you have found
someone with whom you are able to grow, if you
have sufficient faith that you can resist the endless
attraction of the road not taken and the partner not
chosen, if you have the strength of heart to
embrace the cycles and seasons that your love
will experience, then you may be ready to seek
the miracle that marriage offers. If not, then wait.
The easy grace of a marriage well made is worth
your patience. When the time comes, a thousand
flowers will bloom...endlessly.

by Eduardo Jose E. Calasanz

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