Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pure Bliss and Hard Work

Yesterday I officiated Ashley and Bobby’s wedding ceremony at Ma Maison in Dripping Springs, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

We like to think that each of us controls everything we do, yet the more scientists learn about human behavior, the clearer it becomes that what we actually control is a lot less than we think. One specific fact is striking – about 40% of what we do, we don’t even think about. It is basically done by force of habit, almost automatically. This is one of the reasons change is so difficult. In fact, scientists tell us that changing a habit, or forming a new habit, often involves an actual “rewiring” of neurons in our brains.

Now, of course, not all habits are difficult to adopt. In fact, some habits I could get you to adopt in no time. Say, for instance, I suggested that you eat a handcrafted Belgian chocolate bar every day. I can get you to adopt that habit really quickly. Good luck; you can thank me later. On the other hand, if the habit you are trying to form is more challenging, like exercising, eating right, sleeping enough, it will probably take a little longer to help you with that. And really at the end of the day, it is only you who can help yourself, and only if you keep working at it, probably forever.

Now, the interesting thing about a long-term marriage, is that it involves each person changing and adopting new habits to suit this new arrangement, where two become one. This is the part usually left out of romantic comedies in Hollywood on the one hand, and fairy tales on the other hand.  These genres make you think that marriage is all Belgian chocolate. However, the truth about marriage is that it is part Belgian chocolate, and part exercise and eating right, if you will indulge my metaphor. It is part pure bliss and part hard work. And this can vary by time and vary by place and vary by situation. To complicate things more, sometimes it feels like Belgian chocolate to you and not so much to your partner and sometimes vice versa.

The really cool thing about Ashley and Bobby is that both of them live this idea in their lives as individuals and as a couple. They do it quietly and without fan fair, but you know that they really get this profound idea. This is what Ashley means when she says that Bobby's personality is the perfect complement to hers. This is what is at the core of her statement that they are soul mates building something together. This is what Bobby means when he talks about the development of their relationship: "The more we spent time together, the more we found out how much we cared about each other. Eventual care became love and we began discussing the future. We spent a lot of time talking about timing and what we expected to find in a life partner."
The thing is, that the more you think about it, the things that really matter in life, the truest treasures we can find, do involve that mixture of immense pure bliss and really hard work. (That is, if you're doing them right!) And when you dig a little deeper you find that the most immense bliss is intertwined with and inseparable from the hard work, so much so that, like alchemy, it turns the hard work into bliss. That is what makes the ideal romantic relationship really wonderful. As Bobby puts it, "We are both excited about starting a new life together and eventually welcoming a family to this world. So far things have been fun and challenging, everything you would expect from a loving relationship."

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