Sunday, January 31, 2016

Proposal and Some New Marriage Stages

Today is January 31, the day Ken proposed! A few years ago I posted our proposal story. It's our own holiday, better than Valentine's Day. But just a little better, since now we had our Adah Marie on Valentine's Day!

I'd like to take a minute to yack about the four stages of marriage. I've recently been informed by Experts that all marriages, all of them without exception, go through four stages: romance, disillusionment, misery, and reawakening. I read from here to Ken and after he clapped his jaw shut from the dropping shock, we were sad and angry.

These sorts of articles should read "many" marriages. Or even "most" if it makes them feel better, but certainly not "all." I propose a different set of four stages, a set without disillusionment and misery as official stages lasting years and years (of course there may be short times of feeling this way). I am not going to preach about why I think ours has gone better because it will engender some problems: one, there will be some who did what we did and didn't do what we didn't do who had a different outcome; and two, there will be some who have not done things our way and also find that these stages are foreign to their own experience. For the record, we are in our 26th year of marriage.

Honeymoon stage. This should not be called "romance" as if you only get romance in the first few years. Here is the beginning of intimacy and life together when all is fresh and wonderful and new. When being near each other still makes the heart pound and you're sure that everyone is jealous of you.

Settled stage. Yup, there are weird things going on. There are socks here and there, annoying habits, and sleepless nights with babies and toddlers. So what? Why be disillusioned? People are people and we all have talents and troubles. We all have moments when we shine and moments when we're dull. We know this. Time to settle in, make love through it all, and continue to do what you like together (hiking, skating, movies, coffees, whatever). There's so much to talk about and learn, especially if there are children doing weird things, too.

Comfort stage. Satisfied, secure, and still sexy. Middle age is here and it's good. Ditto the settled stage for making love and doing things together.

Still hiking. He talked me into liking dogs.
Deep stage. Twenty-five years and beyond.  Deep, settled, comfortable romance full of joy. Together dealing with whatever our 50's, 60's, and beyond bring. All the years give rise to this place.

At each stage we should be intimate and talking and doing things together ~ interests we share and things we've introduced to each other and are learning. There will be sadness and shock, heartbreak and horror. These are times to cling to each other; after all, we made solemn vows.

I am glad to know that there are therapists and organizations helping marriages come through terrible times. I know couples whose weld is better than if it had not broken.

And yes, there are marriages that go on through the years getting deeper, stronger, and better without teetering on the brink. If you read articles and wonder when the years of disillusionment and misery will descend, be assured that they may not. You are not shallow juveniles stuck in the honeymoon stage (as was suggested to me when I balked at the other stages).

Happy Proposal to us!
Happy marriages to my friends!
And please, Experts, change your opening paragraphs to read "most."

Love, Allison

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What Kind of Christian

Our Archbishop Emeritus Francis Hurley passed away this week. The diocesan newspaper ran this piece telling his amazing story and these are the first few comments from a local news station's web page:

* I am not even Catholic, but respected this guy!

* He was a good man -- he reached out to the Muslim community here in Anchorage, and we considered him a dear friend. Rest in peace, Archbishop Hurley.

* Godspeed to a good man. Prayers for the Church.

* Rest in your Lord's arms, Father.

* My husband and son are named after him. He will be missed.

My heart swelled to read such sentiments. How much he was loved and respected, even by non-Catholics and  Muslims. You see, I know Christians, Catholic and otherwise, who are always angry. Angry about music; angry about sermons; angry about culture; angry about personalities; angry about politics; angry, angry, angry. Their "suffering" at church is all they can talk about. Loudly. Often rudely.  But Pope Francis has called us to a culture of encounter, of reaching out in dialogue and friendship outside our usual circles. If we live actively attempting to encounter people, we might not be as angry. We might be nice. We certainly will not insult and mock others, even others with whom we disagree.

I have been the recipient of such an angry attack. An attack in front of others, never apologized for, and spun into alteration. It changed my life. And not over something crucial like doctrine or morals. I dared express an opposing opinion than that of the loud Angry One. Now that I know what that kind of treatment feels like, I resolve not to mock or insult another human, even those on "the other side" of the doctrine and morals I hold dear. Nope. If I cannot reach out in dialogue and friendship then I will pray for their souls. If I have to stay away from those that insult and mock, then I will.  I can still pray.

What kind of Christian do I want to be? Yes, I despise how our culture celebrates sin. Yes, I'd like to see some things done differently at church. Yes, I keep myself and my children away from certain people, movies, music, and books. But I do not need to hurt and humiliate. The contrast between the archbishop and the Angry Ones is striking.

I think Archbishop Hurley encountered people. From these comments above, he seemed to have had decent contact with all sorts of folks, both in and out of the Church. I daresay that some of those Catholics embraced different music or practices or politics than he. That's how I want to be remembered ~ as an example of a Catholic who was decent to people without compromising my own Holy Faith. Being nice does not mean I think that everyone is right and sin doesn't matter. It's not either/or. I can attend Mass and receive my precious sacraments. I can vote and dress and sing and read how I like. I can raise my children how I see fit.  I can run my household and strengthen my inner life my way. And, I can try to truly encounter people, whether on Facebook or in real life.

As a Catholic, I encounter Christ in His Church first. Then others. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul. This is the first and greatest commandment. And love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these two rest all the law and prophets (Matthew 22:36-40)."

Archbishop Hurley, rest in peace. We love you and will miss your stories.

This is how I remember him, smiling at the pulpit.