To a friend in love

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

I can't tell you how happy I was to hear of your engagement. I've always enjoyed talking with you - often way past my bedtime, though never past yours! - and I was delighted to meet your fiancee recently. I liked her very much.

You appear to know the most important thing already - that success in marriage is more than finding the right person; it is being the right person. Each partner brings to a marriage a completeness that enriches the other. And any couple can achieve this by realizing that each individual is actually formed in the likeness of God, and is deeply satisfied.

Remember the "Connections" column from the Monitor I showed you - "Finding a balance between 'I' and 'we' "? (August 23, 2000) In discussion with other women about changing patterns of marriage, the author observed that in life today the stereotyped roles set for our parents/ grandparents seem almost to have disappeared. You have to have your own identity, your own life. "This way," one woman said, "you walk side by side, instead of leaning."

The French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery put it this way: "Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction."

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote: "Tones of the human mind may be different, but they should be concordant in order to blend properly. Unselfish ambition, noble life-motives, and purity, - these constituents of thought, mingling, constitute individually and collectively true happiness, strength, and permanence" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 58).

God creates all the real love there is, because God is Love. The person who knows God as the source of love - of genuine, lasting love - expands his or her capacity to love and be loved.

Knowing that God's love is in unfailing, abundant supply makes us feel secure. It gives us a trustworthy basis for governing emotions, desires, and ambitions in a way that's helpful instead of harmful. We don't get all wrapped up in thinking that another person is our source of satisfaction and support. We're able to identify ourselves as God's whole children, principled, purposeful, and sustained by His pure affection.

Seeing that God's love for us is expressed in our love for another frees us from the pitfalls that sometimes complicate human relationships - domination, impatience, manipulation, possessiveness.

Virtually everyone mentioned in that newspaper column agreed that the real challenge is to find a wise balance between the togetherness their parents represented and the independence we see all around us in this ever-changing, ever-similar world of ours.

We all learn in some way that togetherness doesn't always mean closeness, and that independence doesn't always mean freedom. What we need is a better grasp of God-designed spiritual individuality. Unlike imperfect human personality, it attracts and inspires others without imposing its mold on them.

I've always liked the image of an isosceles triangle with the two of you at opposite ends of the base and God at the apex. You cease to be two, and become three. Most important, you find that the closer you get to God, the closer you come to each other. And the closer you are to God, the better equipped you are to express fidelity, mutual respect, spontaneity, patience, and tenderness in your marriage.

Love is complex, soaring all the way from that first delivery of dew-fresh roses to the steady devotion and comforting companionship of later years. It's built on loyalties, interdependencies, and shared experiences. (By the way, you can send roses later on, too!)

Enjoy every moment of this experience of growing spiritually together. I have no doubt that you will handle the joys and challenges of married life with wisdom and flexibility. You have my love, support, and my prayers for many years of happy sharing.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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