I had a pre-marital counseling session with a couple yesterday. That’s a pretty big deal because we’ve hardly had any weddings in this church in quite some time. I had forgotten how much I enjoy working with couples who are planning to marry. I insist on at least three sessions. I use the same questionnaires and exercises that I have been using for decades. I don’t remember that I ever talked anyone out of getting married, though I’m sure there have been a number of instances where that would have been a good thing.
Marriage is wonderful. I speak from personal experience. But marriages that are wonderful are marriages where both partners are happy to give more than they get. I call it the 60% rule. Marriage can’t be 50-50, because when I think I’m at 50%, Helen’s probably not going to agree. But if we both contribute 60% or more to the relationship, and if we both do so joyfully, out of love, not grudgingly, out of duty, then we have a fighting chance of having one of those marriages that truly is wonderful.
Mayor LaGuardia never attended a ballet performance at New York City’s Center of Music and Drama. Someone asked him why, especially since he was such a supporter of the arts and he had so much to do with the building of that Center. He said, “I’m a guy who likes to keep score. With ballet, I never know who’s ahead.”
Love does not keep score (my 60% rule notwithstanding). Love gives without expecting to get. And by a wonderful paradox, love always seems to get more than it gives.
I have a good feeling about the couple I met with yesterday. Of course, we never know. I’ve known couples who married way too young with everyone telling them they were making a huge mistake whose marriage turned out to be long and wonderful. And vice versa. It’s never a sure thing. But it’s worth the risk. I’m sure glad I took that risk 36 1/2 years ago.