I have dreamed so strongly of you.
I have walked so much, talked so much
So much I have loved your shadow
That there now remains for me nothing more of you,
It remains with me to be a shadow among shadows
To be a hundred times darker than the darkness
To be the shadow that will come and come again
Into your sun-blessed life.
~Robert Desnos [translated from the original French]
So I’m going to talk to the women here. Is it not true that from a young age most girls dream of getting married? The movies teach us that this is happily ever after, so we think about what it would be like to wear the pretty dress and follow our hearts to true love. We talk much about what it would be like to get married, but we seldom think about what it is to be married.
Those of us who are not married by the time we think we “ought” to be, wonder if something about us must be undesirable. Those of us who do get married feel blindsided by how hard marriage is. (Wasn’t this supposed to “complete” me?) We wonder if there must be something wrong with us or with him. After all, the photos we see on Facebook seem to show such happy people.
This is not about feminism. I’m not trying to say that women need to go be independent and that women don’t “need” men to be complete. This isn’t a call to young women to rise up. This is a call to the upper generations to give back to the generations coming after them.
This is about putting our happiness in its rightful place. Read the poem above once more. Do you see how we do this with our future husband? We talk so much, dream so much, love the shadow of what could be so much that we are left to become a shadow ourselves. Many women do this even after they are married!
Marriage is good and marriage is worth it. It even brings many moments of happiness, but it is not an automatic fulfillment of our desires. It is one of many journeys in life. (And by the way, all journeys have deserts and mountaintops.)
Those of us who are married have the opportunity to pass down a truer view of marriage. For me, marriage is shared memories; marriage is a burden carried together; marriage is coming home to one person who wants to know you. But marriage is also painfully sharpening; marriage is clarifying conflict; marriage is willing vulnerability. Marriage is a true test of maturity.
I’m thinking of the days when women used to all come to the well to get their water for the chores of each day. I think they used to see and share more of the reality of life with each other. Social media allows us to fake the well experience by posting the best of ourselves. Will you help share a more even-rounded picture? Let’s have some real conversations together around the well.
Start with #MarriageIs
P.S. I'm not talking about airing dirty laundry here. There's a difference between being real, and being rude. I think we can share truth without putting each other down.