Partners & Marriage
by Eduardo Jose E. Calasanz
I have never met a man who didn’t want to be loved. But I have seldom
met a man who didn’t fear marriage. something about the closure seems
constricting, not enabling. Marriage seems easier to understand for what
it cuts out of our lives than for what it makes possible within our
When I was younger this fear immobilized me. I did not want to make a
mistake. I saw my friends get married for reasons of social
acceptability, or sexual fever, or just because they thought it was the
logical thing to do. Then I watched, as they and their partners became
embittered and petty in their dealings with each other.
I looked at older couples and saw, at best, mutual toleration of each
other. I imagined a lifetime of loveless nights and bickering and could
not imagine subjecting myself or someone else to such a fate.
And yet, on rare occasions, I would see old couples who somehow
seemed to glow in each other’s presence. They seemed really in love, not
just dependent upon each other and tolerant of each other’s foibles. It
was an astounding sight, and it seemed impossible. How, I asked myself,
can they have survived so many years of sameness, so much irritation at
the other’s habits?
What keeps love alive in them, when most of us seem unable to even stay
together, much less love each other?
The central secret seems to be in choosing well. There is something to
the claim of fundamental compatibility. Good people can create a bad
relationship, even though they both dearly want the relationship to
succeed. It is important to find someone with whom you can create a good
relationship from the outset.
Unfortunately, it is hard to see clearly in the early stages.
Sexual hunger draws you to each other and colors the way you see
yourselves together. It blinds you to the thousands of little things by
which relationships eventually survive or fail. You need to find a way
to see beyond this initial overwhelming sexual fascination. Some people
choose to involve themselves sexually and ride out the most heated
period of sexual attraction in order to see what is on the other side.
This can work, but it can also leave a trail of wounded hearts. Others
deny the sexual side altogether in an attempt to get to know each other
apart from their sexuality. But they cannot see clearly, because the
presence of unfulfilled sexual desire looms so large that it keeps them
from having any normal perception of what life would be like together.
The truly lucky people are the ones who manage to become long-time
friends before they realize they are attracted to each other. They get
to know each other’s laughs, passions, sadness, and fears. They see each
other at their worst and at their best. They share time together before
they get swept into the entangling intimacy of their sexuality.
This is the ideal, but not often possible. If you fall under the spell
of your sexual attraction immediately, you need to look beyond it for
other keys to compatibility. One of these is laughter.
Laughter tells you how much you will enjoy each other’s company over the
long term. If your laughter together is good and healthy, and not at the
expense of others, then you have a healthy relationship to the world.
Laughter is the child of surprise. If you can make each other laugh, you
can always surprise each other.
And if you can always surprise each other, you can always keep the world
around you new.
Beware of a relationship in which there is no laughter. Even the most
intimate relationships based only on seriousness have a tendency to turn
sour. Over time, sharing a common serious viewpoint on the world tends
to turn you against those who do not share the same viewpoint, and your
relationship can become based on being critical together.
After laughter, look for a partner who deals with the world in a way you
respect. When two people first get together, they tend to see their
relationship as existing only in the space between the two of them. They
find each other endlessly fascinating, and the overwhelming powerof the
emotions they are sharing obscures the outside world.
As the relationship ages and grows, the outside world becomes important
again. If your partner treats people or circumstances in a way you can’t
accept, you will inevitably come to grief.
Look at the way she cares for others and deals with the daily affairs of
life. If that makes you love her more, your love will grow. If it does
not, be careful. If you do not respect the way you each deal with the
world around you, eventually the two of you will not respect each other.
Look also at how your partner confronts the mysteries of life. We live
on the cusp of poetry and practicality, and the real life of the heart
resides in the poetic. If one of you is deeply affected by the mystery
of the unseen in life and relationships, while the other is drawn only
to the literal and the practical, you must take care that the distance
doesn’t become an unbridgeable gap that leaves you each feeling isolated
There are many other keys, but you must find them by our self. We all
have unchangeable parts of our hearts that we will not betray and
private commitments to a vision of life that we will not deny.
If you fall in love with someone who cannot nourish those inviolable
parts of you, or if you cannot nourish them in her, you will find
yourselves growing further apart until you live in separate worlds where
you share the business of life, but never touch each other where the
heart lives and dreams. From there it is only a small leap to the
cataloging of petty hurts and daily failures that leaves so many couples
unsatisfied with their mates.
So choose carefully and well. If you do, you will have chosen a partner
with whom you can grow, and then the real miracle of marriage can take
place in your hearts. I pick my words carefully when I speak of a
miracle. But I think it is not too strong a word. There is a miracle in
marriage. It is called transformation.
Transformation is one of the most common events of nature. The seed
becomes the flower. The cocoon becomes the butterfly. Winter becomes
spring and love becomes a child. We never question these, because we see
them around us every day. To us they are not miracles, though if we did
not know them they
would be impossible to believe.
Marriage is a transformation we choose to make. Our love is planted like
a seed, and in time it begins to flower. We cannot know the flower that
will blossom, but we can be sure that a bloom will come. If you have
chosen carefully and wisely, the
bloom will be good.
If you have chosen poorly or for the wrong reason, the bloom will be
flawed. We are quite willing to accept the reality of negative
transformation in a marriage. It was negative transformation that always
had me terrified of the bitter marriages that I feared when I was
It never occurred to me to question the dark miracle that transformed
love into harshness and bitterness. Yet I was unable to accept the
possibility that the first heat of love could be transformed into
something positive that was actually deeper and more meaningful than the
heat of fresh passion. All I could believe in was the power of this
passion and the fear that when it cooled I would be left with something
lesser and bitter.
But there is positive transformation as well. Like negative
transformation, it results from a slow accretion of little things. But
instead of death by a thousand blows, it is growth by a thousand touches
Two histories intermingle. Two separate beings, two separate presence,
two separate consciousnesses come together and share a view of life that
passes before them. They remain separate, but they also become one.
There is an expansion of awareness, not a closure and a constriction, as
I had once feared.
This is not to say that there is not tension and there are not traps.
Tension and traps are part of every choice of life, from celibate to
monogamous to having multiple lovers. Each choice contains within it the
lingering doubt that the road not taken somehow more fruitful and
exciting, and each becomes dulled to the richness that it alone
But only marriage allows life to deepen and expand and be leavened by
the knowledge that two have chosen, against all odds, to become one.
Those who live together without marriage can know the pleasure of shared
company, but there is a specific gravity in the
marriage commitment that deepens that experience into something richer
and more complex.
So do not fear marriage, just as you should not rush into it for the
wrong reasons . It is an act of faith and it contains within it the
power of transformation. If you believe in your heart that you have
found someone with whom you are able to grow; if you have sufficient
faith that you can resist the endless attraction of the road not taken
and the partner not chosen; if you have the strength of heart to embrace
the cycles and seasons that your love will experience, then you may be
ready to seek the miracle that marriage offers.
If not, then wait. The easy grace of a marriage well made is worth your
patience. When the time comes, a thousand flowers will