A lover came to his girl friends house and knocked at the door. She asked from inside, Who is that? He said, Honey, it is I. She said, There is no place here for you and me. He again said, Dear, it is I, open the door. But, she said the same, There is no place here for you and me; please go away. Though he insisted, she repeated the same words and did not open the door. The man went away sad and depressed. He lost all his happiness and felt lonely. Her words always haunted him: There is no place here for you and me. Slowly, he began to think about these words and went into deep reflection. Then, he understood what she really meant. He became enthusiastic and returned to her house and knocked at the door. She asked from within, Who are you? He said, It's you. The door was opened, and they became one. What she was telling was that there was no place here for you and me, i.e., if you feel that you are separate from me, go away.
Success of married life is in unity, experience of togetherness. There should not be you and me between husband and wife. Marriage is the partnership of whole of life. Marriage becomes a failure when husbands and wives think and talk and act like you and me. When husband and wife stop saying this is my house, this is my car, this is my money, etc., marriage life becomes successful and meaningful.
Today you are born together to that new life, and you shall be together forevermore. Marriage is a call to oneness of two persons. You were born in different family backgrounds; you grew up in different life situations; you may have different temperaments, behavioral patterns or different opinions over many things. Still, you can be together and grow into one reality, accepting each other with all the differences. As Kahlil Gibran puts it, the strings of a lute are different, but they quiver with the same music; the pillars of the temple stand apart, but they together hold the temple. You have to start finding out, one by one, what you appreciate in the other rather than what you dislike in the other. Then you grow into oneness and enjoy the married life.
Marriage is not just a contract. It is a sacrament; a covenant with God. Your spouse is not just your choice. He or she is a gift from God for your growth into the fullness of your life. Many people in America have asked me about the marriage customs in India. Whenever I explained the arranged marriage system in India, and the fact that the bride and groom do not know each other very well before the marriage, I was always confronted by a question, Are those marriages valid? My answer was sometimes teasing the western custom of courtship marriages. I would say, Here in America you first fall in love, live together for many years and know each other, then get married, and then easily get divorced, and complain at the church court that marriage is invalid. Whereas, in India bride and groom do not know each other very well before marriage; they first marry, then fall in love and accept each other and stay together. There the spouse is not your choice, but a gift from God.
Your spouse is a gift of God. Treasure it. Treasure each other; accept each other; forgive each other; comfort each other; encourage each other; enjoy each other; and, grow together forevermore.
At the same time, let there be spaces in your togetherness. Kahlil Gibran,
in his famous book, The Prophet, says let the winds of the heavens
dance between you; love one another, but, make not a bond of love.
No one should become the slave of the other. No one should grow in the shadow
of the other. No one should become the master of the other. There should
be freedom of love, not bondage of love. There should not be any controlling
of one by the other. You cannot possess love or buy love. You can give love,
and only by giving love, can you experience the joy of love.
Marriage is a life of love, not of bond. It is a life of giving and not of possessing. Marriage is not filled with pleasure; it is mixed with pain--pain of caring for each other--pain of love, because love is not pleasure; it is pain--pain of giving.
Again, according to Kahlil Gibran, "You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourselves that you truly give. You give with pain, and that pain is your baptism."
Do not be foolish to believe that your life from now on would be a pleasant all the time. Be ready to accept the turmoils and sufferings of life. They have a redemptive value. William Barcley, the famous Bible scholar, chants a poem:
I walked a mile with pleasure
And she chattered all the way
But left me alone the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with sorrow
Never a word said she
But, Oh!, the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me.
In order to have a happy married life, I would recommend Gibrans advice. I shall quote the lines from his book, The Prophet:
Let these be your desires--
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate loves ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And, then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.