*Thank you, Mark Egan, for sharing your thoughts on love and marriage with all of us. Mark wrote this piece for his sister before her wedding. It really captures the essence of love and marriage and will hopefully inspire all of us to love our partners more fully today and to be grateful for what they add to our lives.*
There is no greater decision in life. No education, job, or achievement is treated with the respect and admiration that a marriage between two people is treated with. Nor should it be so. The world is full of those who have this “experience” and sadly those who don’t and perhaps worse those who know nothing of its existence. People struggle to define it, as do I, but rarely is there any debate as to its existence. We know of its presence; we feel it as clearly as we do the Kansas winter wind on our bare skin, but it isn’t often spoke of. Why is that? Maybe it’s difficult to verbalize, or perhaps it seems self-absorbed to admit, or perhaps its absence in some less fortunate leave the subject unmentioned. Those who have it radiate it. They move through life with similar difficulties as those who don’t, but they do so with the ease and comfort that having the love and support of God and of a partner in matrimony can provide.
It isn’t marriage by today’s standards that I speak of or that you and Nick are blessed with. It is an inexplicable bond, and it does not go unrecognized by those exposed to it.
To love requires comparatively little courage when compared to that required to marry. To marry quickly without hesitation is to avoid the painful process of overcoming difficulties, obstacles, and doubts in yourself, your partner, and the idea of an eternal union. Each obstacle creates friction that only courage and compromise overcomes. Or perhaps compromise is the successful result of friction and courage.
An old saying, “behind every great man is a great woman,” is not only true today but has also stood the test of time. This is not to say that a wife in a traditional role is assuming the burden of domestic responsibilities in order for the husband to be a more productive, and thus “great” man outside the home. This is a very shallow view. I contend that facing the difficult challenge of truly exposing oneself to another, to accept someone into your life and all of the imperfection that defines it must require greatness. It is my view that only this mutual love and courage earns the consent and blessing of God. In Creation, God provides for him a “helpmate.” Take no offense; I don’t think he had in mind a divinely guided servant.
Said another way, marriage guided by the hand of God creates a further courage that is far greater than any one person or any of their combined sums.
The outcome, that we simply call “home,” must be divine in nature; it must be God’s will and hand that allows and nurtures the inexplicable result. The result, a piece of time spent in this life, on this earth, is an intricate weaving of emotions–happiness, sadness, difficulty, and peace that exist not just due to the love and courage you share, but also due to God’s blessing and consent. The result is “home” to those blessed enough to be a part of it. The presence of God that can be felt looking up at the heavens on a cloudless night pales in comparison to the presence felt inside the walls of a real home, and with a family that exists with his blessing. I don’t need to convince you of this because we were both lucky enough to have been raised in just such a home. No one exposed to the love that Mother and Father have can deny the consent and blessing of God. This all may seem a bit odd coming from me, but like all things, I like to do it catastrophically wrong and then try to learn from the failure.
My initial thoughts included both happiness and envy. I erased envy because it seemed to be selfishness in a moment that demands selflessness. In retrospect, I think envy in the right context may well exceed happiness in importance. What lies in front of you both is to be envied, to be sought by those without and cherished by those with.
*Wishing a lifetime of happiness to my friend, Mary Egan Whitson, and her husband, Nick!*