I’m not the sort of wedding minister who puts couples through 10 weeks of premarital “counseling” in order to exert control over them in the belief (and church membership) department. In fact, I rarely share my thoughts about relationship at all in the interview situation. I’m asking them about *them,* so I can make the ceremony be about them.
They come to me as adults who know who they are and what they want and I respect that and celebrate it! Moreover, what they tell me about themselves and their love stories mirrors my own deeply held beliefs and observation, anyway.
There are two things that really matter in love relationship, be they romantic partnerships, parent/child, or friendships.
1. You have to be committed and willing to grow. You have to be willing to sacrifice your crazy to the relationship. Selfishness, fear, addiction, compulsion, habitual behavior patterns that harm others, like emotional stinginess. You have to love the other more than your desire to keep doing what blocks love.
and closely related…
2. You have to have be committed and willing to cultivate empathy and conscience. If someone says “ouch; stop that” you have to be willing to feel the ouch as if it happened to you, understand that you did something wrong, what was wrong about it, fix it, stop doing it, and anchor a new, loving behavior (see 1.). A man I know once told me, “My wife rarely gets angry with me. But when she does, I know I’ve done something wrong, and I need to make it right.”
This is what Joseph Campbell meant when he contrasted uncommitted affairs as inevitably disappointing demonstrations of self-gratification and personal stagnation, with marriage. which he referred to as an “ordeal.” He clarified this term as a spiritual one, in which you both prioritize your relationship and sacrifice your shadow stuff to serve it and you both grow.
May we commit to love, empathy, and conscience in our relationships, shining brighter and brighter as we witness and support one another, and as we walk each other home.