The Marriage Tradition
Human Condition - Traditions Series

Copyright © 2005 Dorian Scott Cole

Many mornings I wake up, open my eyes, and this pretty woman is smiling at me with a mischievous look in her eyes. "Hello Wabbit," she says, and the merry chase begins anew.

Most of the time I wonder how I got so lucky. After 36 years of marriage, we still have this deep appreciation of each other. We still have fun together. We still enjoy each other's company. We still can hardly stand to be separated. This all happens on those days when we aren't wondering what curse brought the other person into our lives, if that other person will ever change, and if we can ever find a way to find common ground on some things. Thankfully those off days are few.

What makes a marriage last? We think of a wedding as a tradition. But marriage is also a tradition. It's a tradition, a convention, a custom... marriage is the wedding played out through time. A wedding commemorates the commitment that two people make to each other, typically in the context of cultural and religious expectations. While the tradition expects that the marriage will last, too often it doesn't.

This article is for those whose view of marriage is that it is expected to last.

What can people count on in marriage with the specter of divorce looming large in the background? Divorce is relatively easy to obtain, every other marriage fails, people even end their marriages after 20 to 30 years. Somehow people seem unable to figure out how to live with each other, treat each other right, and make it work.

We have to be able to count on each other. Marriage is a huge commitment that entails support for each other emotionally and financially, and brings children into this world who need a stable and loving environment for them to reach their potential (not that adversity is not sometimes a good character building tool, and divorce seems the only answer for some failed marriages). If we get to the point that as a society we can't count on each other, then what is left?

People who work through their marital difficulties almost always end up with a much better and stronger relationship. Perhaps divorce is too easy an answer. If things don't work out, you can always get divorced, right? This isn't a success perspective - it looks to failure as an easy and acceptable answer. Divorce is very destructive to individuals and family - but survivable. Divorce should be off the table as an answer. Only when no answers have been found, the marriage has failed, and all hope is lost, should one look to divorce. Divorce isn't an answer to marital difficulty. Divorce is an answer to hopeless failure.

Is love the answer? We don't really understand love. For some love ends with infatuation. For some it is nothing but a sexual relationship, and for some it doesn't mean any kind of commitment. For too many, love is simply a selfish action meant for self-fulfillment, and has little to do with fulfilling the other person. In the current understanding of "love" in our world, love fails us. Those who are looking for thrills and an answer to self oriented needs, are not finding what they want. Love shouldn't fail us - we need to understand the concept better.

My first daughter married a few years ago, and now has three children. At that time, I published my first article on marriage. What are the keys to a successful marriage? This month, my second daughter married. She asked me to say a few "Father's Words" at the ceremony, which I was very happy to do. For resources, I looked to my own marriage, and to a group of psychologists whose thoughts I appreciate, and then I tried to talk about things in a different way.

My words follow from my "Father's Words" text at the wedding, and then the verse that I composed for a booklet on wedding traditions that my wife made and passed out at the reception.

Whether you find this article helpful or not, my wish for you: Fifty years from now, may you still want to sit together and hold hands.

I want people to use this text, for free, if it resonates with them. This work is copyrighted, which means that you can't claim it as your own, use it without attributing it to me, sell it, or include it in published collections. If you speak the words at a wedding or reception, don't use my name. If you speak the words in any other environment or print the words in a wedding program or other work, you must include my name.

Cherish the Gift

Father's words for the wedding ceremony of Jennifer and Erik.

Copyright 2005 Dorian Scott Cole

In marriage, we all have good times and bad. It is easy to love each other when you are happy. Cherish each other when you are sad and this will make difficult times better.

Life will give you problems and stress that will try to tear you apart. Cherish each other and give each your best, and this will keep you together.

You may often be separated by time and place. Cherish each other more at these times and your love will be stronger.

It is natural to find others tempting. When you do, cherish each other, and your relationship will become stronger.

Children, work, pursuits - all take up your time. There is never enough time for each other. Cherish the time you can spend together and your love will be satisfying.

Do things for each other, both little and big. Cherish doing these things for each other. Cherish receiving these things from each other. The little things make as much difference as the big things.

Your mate knows you can be very right, as well as very wrong. Cherish your mate's reproachful look as well as the smile of praise, and you will rarely be the fool.

You become one, perhaps even sharing a last name, but you are not the same. Cherish your differences even though some seem insane, and you will be a bigger person in all ways.

Life gets crazy. It gets tragic. It gets funny. Cherish your laughter, and laugh at life, and like magic, it will make everything better.

Life sometimes hurts you, sometimes even breaks you. Cherish you can be there to comfort the other's tears.

Two people bring conflicting wants, needs, and goals to marriage. Marriage brings even more needs. Cherish that you can help make the other's plans whole.

People spend a third of their lives in bed. Cherish you can sleep together for as long as you live.

So many times people just need to be held. Cherish you can hold each other forever.

Friendships change, and you leave your father and mother. Cherish building your friendship with each other, and your love will be stronger and will last.

One person is weak in one area, strong in another area. Cherish the balance that each person brings to your relationship.

Love is not selfish. Sometimes you need to love someone. Sometimes you need to be loved. Cherish that each of you can freely give love and be what each needs.

You each bring things to your merging. Cherish the unique things that each of you brings.

Love gives much, but can ask much. Be willing to give 110%, 150%, 200% when needed, sometimes for a long time, and cherish your mate more than yourself.

Love doesn't stop with loving each other. A mate is not checkmate. Love doesn't complete you or fulfill you, it enables you to love more: children, family, community, and more.

God gives you the things and person you need. What you do with God's love is up to you. Cherish all that your mate brings to you - these are all gifts from God.

In verse:

Cherish the Gift

Father's words from the wedding of Jennifer and Erik.

Copyright 2005 Dorian Scott Cole

Cherish each other in good times and bad; Cherish each other when you're happy or sad.

When life gives you problems and stress; Cherish each other, and give each your best.

When life separates you in time and space; Cherish each other more, in your heart there's a place.

When you find others tempting too long; Cherish each other to make your relationship strong.

Time is fleeting; take time to be there; Cherish the time you can spend together.

Do things for your spouse, both little and massive; Cherish what's done, both give and receive.

Your mate knows you are wrong, as well as right; Cherish the reproach as well as the smile like sunlight.

You're not the same, you only share a last name; Cherish your differences, both sane and inane.

Life gets crazy, both funny and tragic; Cherish your laughter, its help is like magic.

Life can break and hurt all through the years; Cherish you can be there to comfort the tears.

Two people plus marriage makes conflicting goals; Cherish you can help make the other's plan whole.

People spend a third of their life in bed; Cherish you can sleep together forever now that you're wed.

So many times you just need to be held; Cherish you can hold each other as long as you dwelled.

Friendships change, and you leave father and mother; Cherish building your friendship with each other.

One is weak there, the other is strong there; Cherish the balance you share.

Sometimes you need to love, sometimes to be loved; Cherish the freely given love.

You each bring things to your merging; Cherish the unique things each of you bring.

Loving yourself springs into loving others; Cherish your mate more than yourself.

God gives you the things and persons you need; Cherish all your mate brings - all gifts from God, indeed.

- Scott

Other distribution restrictions: I want people to use this text, for free, if it resonates with them. This work is copyrighted, which means that you can't claim it as your own, use it without attributing it to me, sell it, or include it in published collections, either printed or electronic. If you speak the words at a wedding or reception, don't use my name during the speech. If you speak the words in any other environment or print the words in a wedding program or other work, you must include my name to avoid this going into usage unattributed.

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