A reader writes:
In college, I was required to take 3 classes in religion at my Catholic institution. Looking through the course catalog, I was doing whatever I could to shoehorn in my last class in between a schedule full of business major courses. The only one that fit my schedule? Christian Marriage. "Shoot me," I thought, "this is going to be horrible."
I was wrong. It was a fantastic course and one that, I would argue, made the difference in choosing a small, private, Catholic school vs. a behemoth state school or other unaffiliated college. The professor (a biblical scholar who left the convent for her now husband), brought in couples at various stages of marriage -- from the newly-engaged to the couple who celebrated 40+ years of commitment. The couples with more time together were the most captivating -- they told stories of mutual hatred, marital infidelity, challenges with raising children and the classic toilet seat fights. To see the differences between what they showed to others publicly, what they discussed (or, in one case, litigated) behind closed doors, and the nearly unthinkable thoughts that passed through their very human minds at moments of weakness, was absolutely critical to how I now see relationships, love and marriage.
I'm 29 and single. I've been in a few serious relationships, several not-so-serious ones, and yet I see marriage as the big, hairy, audacious goal that it should be. As tough as the trying times are, they're the best times -- the ones that show the true character of both partners. In those moments of absolute mutual disgust, it's so difficult to treat each other with dignity. I believe that when you find that quality in the person to whom you're red-faced anger is directed, you realize just how worth it it is. I also wholeheartedly believe that marriage, with its pitfalls, triumphs, abuses, comforts, disappointments and expectations, is the closest thing to what it is to know the struggles that God faces with us all. That might not fit our culture of not only instant but constant gratification, but I believe that any higher purpose comes with a price tag.