Listen up, kids. Dr. Love is in the house. I am here to give you the real scoop on this thing called marriage, so pay attention.
Seriously, though. Donya and I went to a movie for the first time in umpteen years last Friday night. We thought that new Vince Vaughn flick, Couples’ Retreat, would be some good, old-fashined, knee-slapping fun.
It was sort of funny here and there, but not hilarious. The message of it, however, was heavier than I foresaw. (Who ever heard of Vince Vaughn having a message, anyhow?) It was also pretty much right on. I could tell by the uncomfortable silence in the theater, the odd nervous cough here and there, the shuffling of restless butts on seats, that there would be relationship talk going on when folks left this flick.
The best line in the movie, says me, was near the end, when the respective couples were beginning to figure some things out and recommit to their partners. Vince’s character said to his wife, “That therapist thinks we have a problem. We don’t have a problem.”
His wife readily agrees.
Then, Vince says, “We have a million problems. But that is just life. I think everyone has problems. Marriage is not about solving every problem. It’s about commitment. It’s about facing them together, working through them.”
(Something like that. I paraphrase.)
Man, that’s it!
Couples call it quits every day because they get so lost in their troubles that they think they are incompatible. If they were really meant to be together, they wouldn’t be so different. They wouldn’t have so many issues. They would be happy with each other all the time.
They go to church and see these couples with the pleasant smiles pasted on their faces, who seem to have it all together, and they think, “Man, my marriage sucks!“
Here’s a news flash you won’t get anywhere else: sometimes, marriage DOES suck.
You think it is supposed to be easy, painless, to take two individuals and meld them into one identity? You think there won’t be some discomfort there? You think there won’t be sacrifice? You think it won’t be work?
It’s about commitment.
Sometimes, that is the only thing that will keep your bags unpacked. I promise you that.
Here is my ingenious, cost-free insight on marriage in a nutshell:
Marriage is not always about getting it right. Sometimes, it is about making it right.
If you cannot say, “I am sorry” and mean it, then your relationship is doomed. And if you cannot say, “I forgive you,” and do your dead-level best to mean that, then you have no chance. Forgive as much as you can. Forget as well as you can. And when you cannot forgive or forget, and you just have to fight it out, remember this: you can never really “take back” anything you say. Once it is said, it is said forever and it cannot be unsaid.
So, fight. Don’t brawl. Fights have limitations, rules. You know, no hitting below the belt. Stuff like that. Brawls have no rules, no restraints. Fighters have a fighting chance. Brawlers don’t.
I don’t know if I have an ideal marriage. I don’t know what an ideal marriage is. I do know that my wife felt poorly last night and crawled into the recliner with me and fell asleep in my lap while I watched Monday Night Football. We woke up in the same bed this morning, ready or not, to take on another day. I expect to do the same tomorrow.
That’s pretty good.