Art of Marriage BY Betty Pingel

There is an art to marriage as there is to any creative activity we human beings engage in. This art asks that we pay attention to the little things as well as the big ones that are part of the closeness of marriage. Never grow too old to hold hands. At least once each day, remember to say, "I love you." In so much as it is possible, develop the capacity to forgive and forget and heal quarrels as they happen so that you do not go to bed angry. Your courtship should not end with the honeymoon; so pay attention that you do not come to take each other for granted, and remember to speak words of appreciation and demonstrate your gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is important to have a mutual sense of values and common objectives so that you stand together as you work through the world and do things for each other, not as a duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. Do not expect perfection of each other; perfection is only for the gods. But do give each other room to grow and cultivate flexibility, patience, understanding, and sense of humor in your relationship. And your marriage is not just for two people. Use it to form a circle of love that gathers in your families and the children who may be part of your lives.

Find room for the things of the spirit and make your search for the good and the beautiful a common search. In the words of a counselor, make yours a relationship in which "the independence is equal, the dependent is mutual, and the obligation is reciprocal." Remember that standing together never means dissolving your individual selves into each other, but indeed means the strengthening of the individuality of each. A good marriage evolves when two distinct souls face life's joy and its sorrow in harmony, not in unison.

This list sounds very long and very heavy, yet it is only a small part of what is required of two people who would truly accept that making a marriage over the years is an artistic endeavor worthy of our best efforts. It is not just another relationship in our lives; it is the one that gives us courage and the support to reach out to other people in love and wholeness.