Last week I wrote about a marriage myth I’ve been hearing lately – I never really loved her/him. It’s been tossed around effortlessly by friends, folks looking for an out.
But is debunking that myth enough to protect a marriage? Evidently not. Truth is, if one lie doesn’t get you, another might. After all, Butch Cassidy drew a six-shooter not single shot Derringer. Or so they say.
Marriage Myth No. 2 – We don’t have anything in Common.
It’s the second myth we’ve heard too often, one used to justify separation and divorce. I know that relationships are complicated and people change over time, don’t get me wrong. But in those early years, there was enough commonality to lead both to the altar, right? That kind of commonality does not disappear over night.
Today I’m strapping on some relational Kevlar; I’m bullet proofing here. I’m Exploring this second myth and debunking it in my own marriage. And I’m writing it down because memorializing the truth in the good times protects you from believing a lie in the tough times.
And Mr. Cassidy, you can have my box car, but you can’t take my marriage.
When we were in our early twenties, we created commonality. You played Ben Harper, told me to get past those bawdy lyrics and listen to his slide guitar. I played Patty Griffin, asked you to listen to the layering in that song about Tony. We met in the middle, opened ourselves to the possibility that the other’s music was the best.
We fought hard to make common memories. On Valentine's Day you tracked down a risky present, made me drive into the back alley of a Memphis tattoo parlor so that you could pick up that Cuban Cigar at 10:00 sharp. I’m still not sure how you set that up, but I remember the excitement, the racing heart, the running getaway car. You handled it so coolly, knocking on graffitied back door and making the exchange with graffitied biker . It was almost too much for my twenty-one years of Baptist upbringing. That was sexy, Lady.
We were helpless wanderers, hapless explorers. We shared the common struggle of each other.
We made vows with God and each other. Till death do us part, we said. Then we walked out to a Gaelic tune.
The ties of covenant are our most permanent commonality.
We shared peach brandy on our honeymoon night, slithered shamelessly into a rented bed. We woke to fresh coffee and a new start. We shared a blank slate, a multitude of possibilities.
We grew to love the deep south, the Spanish moss that hung like stagnant smoke from cypress branches, the way the sun wakes the Bayou, and how the wood ducks tie sky and water together. We watched flying squirrels at night. We watched my grandparents dance the jitterbug to Louis Armstrong.
We choked and gasped our way through burned out Christianity, each begging the other for a fresh taste of Jesus, each finding the inability to deliver. We were common in our failure, too. I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.
We found the hope of redemption in a piece of key lime pie in Fort Lauderdale.
We found actual redemption in the arms of a right good church and the birth of our first son. Jesus has this infinite sense of timing, I think. We both know that.
We have grown together, have been saved together, are continually sanctified together. And ultimately, at the end of the day, we are in covenant together.
Last night, you dragged me out to see the Harvest Moon. We stood for less than a minute and looked into the sky, both in wonder. I patted your rear and kissed you on the lips. It’s those small moments that remind me.
We share the same hope of glory.
Finding commonality takes intentionality, sometimes. But intentionality is where the holy work of marriage begins. Have you taken a moment to remember your common experiences or celebrate your common interests lately? Have you written it down? It may take a little work, but debunking myths before they take hold is easier than repairing a marriage after the myths have rooted down deep.
And in the end, isn’t marriage worth all the effort?