The Mission of Marriage

In marriage there is no escape from the dark corners of another human being. There is no escape from the mirror another casts on my own sorry state. However exalted my intentions — however ready I am to quote some spiritual wisdom from some great author or text — marriage, by design, offers me a context in which to see through the mirage of my own defenses. It summons into awareness the fears, the resentments, the disillusion, the sheer difficulty that comes with the fact of being human. …marriage calls us to abandon our longing for the perfect; for our partner’s perfection, and also for our own. As we open to our own imperfections we can begin to have mercy on those of others. Our imperfections, after all, are what join us to the human race. In letting our frailty be part of our experience of ourselves without judgment or criticism — it’s the way things are, after all — we may begin to know compassion, both for ourselves and the world. The willingness to live with eyes open, fearing neither what you will see in the other nor what they will see in you — this is part of the savage grace that is marriage.

–Roger Housden, Ten Poems to Open Your Heart

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One Comment on “The Mission of Marriage”

  1. David Markham Says:

    Hi Kathryn:

    I like this. Thanks for posting it. My wife and I were married for 35 years, had nine kids, two killed. She then had four involuntary psychiatric admissions because of her psychosis and desire to kill herself. She was abusive flying into rages for which there was no salve. As I distanced, she divorced me, perhaps all for the best, but she continues to suffer still driving our adult children away as she did me. The tragedy is that I love her still. My therapist says I am in love with the ideal not the actual person. I am sure he is right, but is that not what marriage about, to see the divine spark in the other, to know the worst about them and to love them anyway?

    All the best,

    David Markham