Write or Wrong

The right place to write 'bout what's right and what's wrong. If you read and then comment I'll sing you a song. And if you believe the last line that I wrote, Than I'm Dr. Seuss in a silly blog post. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Reflections on Marriage

This paper was written as an assignment for Relationships class. We had to write a reflective paper on marriage, examining how our parents' marriage has influenced us in terms of the rules, roles and relationships we had modeled for us growing up.


“We married too soon.” “If we get a divorce, we’ll both still love you.” “We’re getting a divorce.” “We’ve decided to stay together.”
These sentences are just a fraction of the statements my parents have given me in regards to their marriage throughout my 21 years of life. Their marriage of 26 years currently sits at what is probably the most stable I’ve seen it. Nevertheless, the damage to my image of marriage began somewhere between my first breath and first day of kindergarten and the intensity of it continued progressively as I grew up.
Both of my parents grew up baby boomers in the traditional husband-as-hammer household. And because every action tends to have an equal and opposite reaction, my parents’ marriage seemed doomed before it began only because they were unaware of the problems until after the honeymoon ended. Failure to recognize and deal with difficult circumstances led both down the path of most resistance. Desiring autonomous power and playing the blame game won out over mutual love, understanding and forgiveness.

Because of my home environment and the fact that I was an only child for eight years, I learned to be an adult at a single-digit age. When my sister was born, I fell into the role of third parent and shock absorber. I became the self-appointed Joan of Arc championing the causes of those who wouldn’t speak up, namely my mother. Her passivity to conflict often encouraged my aggressiveness in standing up to my dad.
Some of the general rules demonstrated in my house were to 1) trust no one,
2) always have the last word, 3) use violence and force to get results, 4) perform for acceptance, 5) conquer or be conquered. Not knowing anything different, I would be punished for imitating the angry outbursts that my controlling father displayed.

Looking back I see now that the fallout of my parents’ unstable marriage manifested itself in my swearing off marriage and motherhood altogether as a senior in high school. Forget just wanting a marriage unlike theirs, I went straight to not wanting one. With relatively no model of a good marriage, I had simply avowed not to be a part of such an oppressive institution. “Ms. Independent” was not only my motto, it was my salvation, or so I thought.

It took counseling, godly mentors, friends and moving away to college for me to see God softly showing me that I wasn’t condemned to the life of my parents and their parents. Yet the influence of my family is undeniable. Perhaps the reason why I seem to be gifted in interpersonal communication (and by extension the reason I sort of fell into being a communication major) is due to my experiences of handling stressful situations. I’ve picked up a thick shell, but I’m also not too dense to realize that I’m susceptible to experiencing emotions and that that is okay.
The past two years have been a watershed experience for me because I came to a place of contentedness in my singleness while being open to the possibility of loving and being loved by someone else. And that’s when it happened. Since January 1 of this year, I’ve been in a wonderful relationship with Georges, the oldest son of a missionary family in Brazil and one of my best male friends for more than three years. I’ve grown and learned so much about myself and about male-female dynamics in our relationship.

Having a romantic relationship has made me see things that I never saw before. I see first hand how much my parents have influenced me. I’m always ready to have a healthy argument or discussion, whereas Georges needs time to ponder and think. Georges is accustomed to public affection, whereas I’ve usually been anti-PDA. I tend to be a very detailed-thinker and Georges leans towards the big-picture. I’m accustomed to being independent and in charge, but Georges enjoys the gentleman’s role and offers help. It is a learning experience for both of us in how to best show and receive love.
God has shown me how a true love relationship works. Georges and I know who we are in God’s story and we know what we want. We recognize how our family has influenced us and how best to navigate that so it doesn’t become a stumbling block in our own relationship. Together we learn to help each other help each other. Since we’re planning on marriage in the future, we’ve discussed how we will communicate, raise our family, relate to our families, etc. I personally want my future marriage and family to be unlike the examples I’ve grown up with. And I trust that because of God’s grace in both our lives, we will continue to win battles for our relationship. Though our relationship is tough at times (because of gender and cultural differences and now because of geographical distance), it is extremely rewarding. And because of our relationship I’ve been able to see with much greater clarity how God loves us.

Understanding how I’ve been shaped through my parents’ marriage in the rules I abide by, the roles I’ve grown into, and the relationships I hold dear, has helped me counteract the negative influences. I see my past as a springboard from which God will use to minister to the needs of others. It is truly the power of Christ in me which challenges me to accept the responsibility as well as the God-given opportunity that I have to influence my future and my family’s future in a positive way.


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