Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Protect Your Fortress

At a wedding reception, the guests were invited to leave notes or words of advice for the bride and groom on scrapbook papers left on tables.  I usually draw a blank on those occasions when I have to produce a profound thought on the spot.  That night, all I could think of, was:  Protect your fortress.  The idea came from this Baha’i quote on marriage: 

And when He desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation . . .
                                                                        -Bahá’u’lláh

Since that night, I have been thinking about how does one protect this fortress for well-being that is the institution of marriage.  Here is my current list:

1.   Invest in the foundation – Truthfulness, trust, honesty and respect are four strong pillars for building a strong marriage.  Other virtues can be added on but without these four tenets the fortress is susceptible to damage by forces from inside and out.
2.   Watch out for termites – Jealousy, resentment, fault-finding, gossip and backbiting eat away at the walls of the fortress.  Their effects can be slow and imperceptible for a long time, but over the years they add up and one day the slightest pressure causes the whole structure to crumble. 
3.  Do not recycle – keeping a tally of all wrongdoings and hurts and bringing them up at every opportunity holds everyone hostage to the past and paralyzed from moving forward.  Resolving issues and learning to forgive instantly wipes the slate clean and both sides feel free to grow and move beyond earlier mistakes and immaturities
4.  Beware of intruders – Friends and family , although well-meaning and acting out of love, can become unwelcome guests in the fortress if they sabotage the trust between the husband and wife and cause situations where they have to choose their partner over them.  Showing a united front and respecting the sanctity of spousal conversations by not sharing them with outsiders lets the world know the boundaries of the marriage.
5. Dust often - It is a lot easier to deal with problems when they are small.  Hurt feelings, misunderstandings and unintended offenses, if not dealt with quickly and regularly, can fester, grow and then explode at the oddest moment 
6.  Leave the repair work to professionals – There will be times when problems cannot be solved by conversation and consultation just between the two.  It is tempting to seek the advice of those closest.  But no matter how hard parents or best friends try, they cannot be truly impartial in giving answers or capable of asking the right questions.  It is best to leave the job to professionals.  It is an investment of time and money but it is worth it. 
7.  Do not keep the good china for the guests - Spending all of our good humor and charm on others can leave nothing for those closes and dearest to us. Life is too precarious to wait to be and do our best for the one that really matters.

And when the fortress of marriage is fortified, the society based upon it is strengthened.  Children born into these marriages will then grow up to “carry forward an ever advancing civilization.”

-Susan

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