Sunday, June 1, 2014

Building on Your Differences

Yesterday evening, Saturday 5/31, I co-officiated Carol and Josh's wedding ceremony, with Josh's dad, Reverend Terry Parker, at Artspace 111 in Fort Worth, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I have each couple I marry write about themselves. In what this relatively young couple wrote about themselves and each other there was a maturity far beyond their years. Listen, and you'll see what I mean.

Carol writes, "I can’t imagine the rest of my life without him by my side. I love that Josh can make me laugh even when it’s the last thing I want to do... He’s definitely the yin to my yang, in the best way... He has always made me feel secure and loved despite some periods of long distance in our relationship, so I know he will make an amazing life partner and eventually a father. Josh has taught me how to love unconditionally, and that I can always be myself without judgment. I love that we aren't dependent on each other for happiness, but that our relationship adds such brightness to my life. I know there will be times when we will drive each other crazy, but I also know he’s the person I want driving me crazy..."

Josh writes, "I had realized that Carol was the strongest and most supportive woman I had ever met. Instead of avoiding a relationship with me because I was about to deploy, she put herself through the loneliness, the constant worrying and overall stress of being in a relationship with a deployed infantryman... I want to get married because I have never been around someone that I can be completely vulnerable with, like I am with Carol. She is truly my best friend and makes me a better person. I believe she will be a great mother, and I am looking forward to one day raising a family with her."

It is not that often in these essays that a person will talk about how her or his beloved will be a great parent, and even rarer that both do. So, the fact that both Carol and Josh went there is noteworthy. How do they know this? Well, I don't know if they know themselves, but if you listen to the rest of what they say, it is obvious.

They have a relationship that has withstood distance and danger. They view their relationship not as co-dependent, but as complementary. They realize that the only way you know you are in a relationship of true love is that you can shed all the masks of pretense with the other person. Most importantly, they recognize that an essential part of true love is the difference and distinctiveness, sometime maddening, each lover brings to the relationship.

Now, if you think about it, the extra dimensions that parenting demands are exactly those they have mastered. To be successful at parenting, you need the ability to deal with difficulty, the recognition that we need to complement each other as parents, the willingness to shed our masks of pretense, and learn who we really are in a role we have never been in before, and the recognition that our different parenting skills and inclinations, while they may drive us nuts sometimes, when used constructively will make our children's lives much better.

So, Carol and Josh, what we wish for you is simple, keep doing what you are doing. Keep being great lovers to each other, finding comfort in the other, complementing each other, being true to the core with one another, and building on your differences together, while driving each other just a little nuts…

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