"Marriage is an aggregate of multiple narratives. It belongs to the people who are in it, but it also belongs to the people who are supporting it and living around it: family, friends, community. As I once said, and it became a kind of a saying for me, when you pick a partner, you pick a story, and then you find yourself in a play you never auditioned for. And that is when the narratives clash. " Dr. Esther Perel
I guarantee you won’t find the above definition for marriage in any high glossed wedding planning magazines or blogs on the market today. But, from the persecutive of this wedding minister who himself will complete his 29th year of marriage, to the same women no less, this week, I nominate the above as the definition of the century.
Why do I like this quote? Because it is authentically a bullseye on human relationship found in the covenant of marriage. I can hear some chuckle with the target shooting analogy as it relates to marriage, but fear not. We have long associated Cupid’s arrows hitting their very mark as a byproduct of true love, and that is the sense with which I employ the sharp shooters analogy.
Both parties in a marriage come from a family of origin, bringing with them component parts that they loathe and cherish simultaneously. We are who we are. And, pledging to do life with each other from the time we agree to say “I will,” we embark to begin our own new family system. We bring all that we are, and join it to all we may hope to be together. Of course it's not easy, and nothing valuable or worth having is ever gained painlessly.
So, read Dr. Perel’s words again, be honest about the narrative, even the drama, of your own journey. And if you are fortunate enough to have decided to do life with someone you love, make it a masterpiece, one act at a time, with large amounts of grace. And here is the deal: the curtain rises every new day, and the play is never done with a nightly critique. You get to live out your narrative together, tomorrow, too.