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Marriage, Girls and Terror

I heard an ancient Babylonian saying that went something like “Treat your mother like a queen”. I’ve thought about that one a lot, I thought it was great. I think my philosophy on women goes something like this:

Treat girls like princesses, your wife and mother like the Queen.

I know that it may seem a bit old fashioned and perhaps a little chauvinistic, and that there are many girls who don’t want to be treated any different from guys. But I’m happy to be both of them if it means I treat women well. I know I didn’t always have that view of women. If you’d asked me when I was in year 10 I would have said “Treat everyone the same”, but since then I’ve changed my mind. I think it was because I’ve see too many guys who don’t treat their girlfriends well and it’s annoyed me. I think it’s because my Mother told my that my Father has utmost respect for women, and I realised that I admired that about him. I think it’s because I’ve noticed that I’m going to marry a woman (rather than a man) and I want to treat her well. I think it’s because women are a lot better looking than men.

I’m thinking about this because tonight’s small group was about relationships. Discussions and studies on relationships always get me thinking a lot. I think marriage is one of the things I am passionate about.

I’m also thinking about it because I was watching Ben Kingsley’s character in last night’s movie and thinking about what I admired in the way he treated his family, and what I didn’t like.

In tonight’s group we were asked to write down three things we value in relationships, and a list of the things we thought were the positives and negatives in our parents’ marriage. We were told that the three things we wrote down were probably a reflection of the things you didn’t like in your parents’ relationship. So if you wrote that you valued affection then you probably felt your parents weren’t affectionate enough.

The problem for me was that I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like about my parent’s marriage. I am in awe of my parents’ marriage, and as much as I thought, I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.

My list was a reflection of the things I valued in my parents’ relationship, but it was also a reflection of the things I had seen go wrong in the relationships around me.

I am aware that I have grown up in a strange place. My parents’ relationship is like the model marriage. I come from the Brady Bunch home, I have an abnormal family that is much more blessed than I can express. We are like we are because my parents love each other so much, work hard at their marriage, and are really good match. My parents both think the other one is fantastic.

On the flipside side of that, the other major influences on my views on marriage are the relationships of the families that I grew up with. Way too many of them went bad. I have seen too many of my “secondary parents” split up. And as little as it seemed affect me when it happened, I still seem to be processing it today.

So the result of this is that I have very high ideals for marriage. I have this romantic dream of a fairytale marriage. I have dreams of making my wife feel like the most important person in the world, and loving her till I die. But on the other hand I’m terrified that I’ll stuff it up. I’m terrified that I don’t have the grace, commitment or love that my parents have. I’m scared I’ll ignore my wife, or I’ll cheat on my wife, or I’ll stop loving her after 3 years of marriage and spend the rest of my life in a sterile, non-aggression pact.

I have high ideals and a terrible fear of reality. I know what I want, but I don’t think I can get there.

I think one of my biggest fears is that I’ll commit adultery. It’s funny because I’m one of the least promiscuous people I know. But I’m scared that somewhere below the surface of me is this man that will always be seeking fulfilment in the arms of a “better woman”.

I hate what I haven’t even become. Perhaps this is a good thing, perhaps it is just paranoid.

As a result though, I am determined to make my future marriage work. I am determined never to cheat on my wife. I am determined never to abuse my wife. I am determined not to ever be rude to my wife. I am determined to always think my wife is the best. I want to treat my wife like a queen. I want to love her like Christ loves the Church.

I have said before that I don’t find Romeo and Juliet romantic. Anyone can fall in love for three days. If asked me what I thought was romantic I would say an eighty year old couple that has been married in a loving, committed, relationship for the last sixty years. When I think about love, I think about waking up next to my wife after years of marriage and realising that I don’t want to be married to her anymore, and then working like hell to make it work, honouring my commitment and my wife, and loving her with everything that I have, so my feelings will again fall back in line. That is real love, love that is not about feelings, but about selfless commitment.

I know that sounds very un-romantic. But for me, it’s perhaps what scares me and excites me about marriage the most.