Published Articles

Column for the Anchorage Times June 19, 1988

While I was in Washington, D.C., I met a young lady who had just quit her job. She told me that she and her boyfriend were moving to New England to "practice".

"Practice what?", I asked .

"Marriage", she answered matter-of-factly. "We're going to practice marriage, and if it all works out, we may get married next year or the year after. "

Now, I have to agree that marriage takes practice. But I believe the practice necessary for a successful marriage should come after a couple is married, not before.

Lawyers practice law and doctors practice medicine, but both get licensed and admitted to such practice before they begin doing it.

A wedding is the admission ceremony to the legitimate practice of marriage. Aside from all the spiritual benefits available from the wedding ceremony, it marks the formal beginning of a commitment between a man and a woman to each other.

People enjoy attending weddings because they are filled with hope for the future. But hope won't make a marriage last.

At a wedding, promises are made. But promises won't make a marriage last either.

Hope and promises are important, of course, but they are important because they can and should lead to the third and most important aspect of marriage, the commitment between two mature adults to continuously work at making the marriage succeed. And a successful marriage does take work! Furthermore, both parties have to participate in that work. They have to continuously "practice" if you will, at making the marriage go well for each other.

The practice of medicine and the practice of law can be rewarding. The "practice" of marriage can be even more so.

The young lady and her boyfriend who intend to move to New England are not working towards a successful marriage. They are playing at it. They may have hope that something will come of it. They may have even made some promises to one another. But they have made no formal commitment to one another. As a consequence, their relationship has no stability, and will never have stability until such formal commitment is made and practiced.

When two people marry, they pledge to face together whatever the future may hold in store for them. That future may be either good or bad, but generally it is a combination of both. When times are good, people stay together. When times are bad, divorces occur.

Divorces need not occur, however, if men and women are emotionally mature before entering into a marriage. Emotionally mature people realize even when things go wrong, it is far better to face those bad times with a partner who will work with you to make them better, than it is to face those bad times alone.

No divorce ever occurred in a marriage where both parties were mature and worked together towards making the marriage succeed. Divorces only occur when one or both parties are immature, or where one or both never started, or have stopped, working at making a successful marriage.

This month Barb and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We've seen the richer and poorer part, and we've seen the sickness and the health part, and even though I'm sure we've faced bad times during those 20 years, I can't remember any. I guess that's because when the bad times came, Barb was always there to help me through them, and so maybe they passed unnoticed.

And with all the practice we've had, I'm looking forward to working with her for another 20 years, and God willing, another 20 years after that.

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