As I enter my fifth year of marriage, I am humbled by how much I have changed. Perhaps most humbling is having to admit I am now a "Star Trek" fan.
You won't catch me donning Spock ears at a Star Trek convention. But I admit I look forward to watching "Star Trek: Voyager" each Wednesday evening with Bruce, my husband. A lifelong sci-fi fan, he has enjoyed "Star Trek" since watching the original TV show in reruns. The 1960s series ran only three years, but inspired three spinoffs and nine movies.
I used to detest all of "Star Trek's" manifestations because I considered them contrived. For the first two years of our marriage, I could not sit through an episode of "Voyager" or "Deep Space Nine," both of which Bruce watched weekly.
I figured only my computer-programmer husband and those like him could appreciate the shows' techno-babble. He seemed engrossed in characters' discussions of spatial anomalies, while my main concern was about eating dinner on time.
I teased Bruce about the shows being male soap operas. Men wouldn't watch "Melrose Place," but put a blonde on a spaceship, give her a phaser, and suddenly the show is worthwhile. In his good-natured way, Bruce found my comments amusing, but kept watching.
Then, when I wasn't looking, "Star Trek" seeped into me. I began identifying with the plight of "Voyager's" crew, whose stories I heard in the background while I read or cleaned.
Thousands of light-years from home, they search the uncharted Delta Quadrant for a shortcut to Earth. I shared their disappointment when a wormhole, one shortcut, closed too soon. I experienced their relief when they outwitted the Borg, who violently assimilate into their collective any intelligent species they encounter.
I assimilated my husband's interest, joining him for dozens of "Voyager" episodes and three "Star Trek" movies. Along the way, I discovered that "Star Trek" offers a metaphor for our marriage.
Like space explorers, we are on a journey where we must learn give-and-take. Much of our marital trek is through unfamiliar terrain. We navigate best when we are committed to mutual respect and compromise.
Voyager's crew practices those principles. The main characters, who represent cultures as diverse as the aggressive Klingons and the logical Vulcans, exercise diplomacy with one another and with aliens. They learn from their trials and persevere with dignity.
Because of differences in upbringing and gender, Bruce and I also represent distinct cultures. We try to treat each other fairly, but we're still learning the tact and tolerance necessary for a harmonious relationship.
WHEN I see Bruce relaxing instead of vacuuming, I'm tempted to respond as "Voyager's" curt Seven of Nine would. "Unacceptable!" I want to say. But when I refuse to nag, I practice the mellowness at which my husband excels.
And although he usually exercises diplomacy worthy of a Federation captain, he still complains when I buy something he deems unnecessary, like organic food. But when he expresses interest in his diet, I know I've influenced him, too.
Part of "Star Trek's" appeal is its Utopian vision of the future, where people neatly resolve problems and view right and wrong as a simple dichotomy. My husband and I may not achieve a Utopian marriage, but finding common ground is enough.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society