I have the privilege right now of doing premarital counseling for a young couple who plan to wed in October. I've never done this type of counseling before, but it has been a wonderful way to reflect upon our own marriage and try to offer some words of practical advice and wisdom to them as they set out in life together. In preparation for our first session, I asked them to read the first half of Mike Mason's The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle (apparently he REALLY likes alliteration). It's a beautiful, dense, theologically rich contemplation on just what exactly it means for two lives to become one. So today you get to read some of his wise words:
A marriage, or a marriage partner, may be compared to a great tree growing right up through the center of one's living room. it is something that is just there, and it is huge, and everything has been built around it, and wherever one happens to be going–to the fridge, to bed, to the bathroom, or out the front door–the tree has to be taken into account. it cannot be gone through; it must respectfully be gone around. It is somehow bigger and stronger than oneself. True, it could be chopped down, but not without tearing the house apart. And certainly it is beautiful, unique, exotic; but also, let's face it, it is at times an enormous inconvenience.
He wants us to learn to pay this same undeserved and unqualified compliment to others, the high and magnanimous compliment of regarding others as being every bit as real and important as we are, which is to say, loving them as we love ourselves. This is the path of perfection that the Lord has set in our hearts, and of all the experiments men have made in the following of it, none is more radical than that of marriage.
...original sin did not enter into the comparative simplicity of Adam's solitary life in Paradise, but rather into the complex world of relationships...The essential task at which man failed was not that of living in peace with God, but of living in peace with another person before God, in the presence of temptation...
Love is more than the way we practice for the world to come: it is the world to come.