I have heroes, models for different parts of my life. One of my heroes is Gandhi. Our society has very few of these heroes when it comes to marriage. Do you have a marriage that you look up to? Could you share it here on this blog?
Gandhi challenged us to lead an extraordinary life, then gave an example of what it would look like, proving that it was possible. Difficult, but entirely possible.
Here are some questions he asked. I have tailored them to be about marriage, but he was asking them about society.
Look deeply at your relationship, do you think that this is how marriage ought to be organized? If you do not, please realize you and your partner can organize your relationship as you both see fit. You have the power to do that. Do not follow a model that works for others if it does not work for you ( "unreflecting submission to mass values," Gandhi called it) or you "become alienated from your deepest values."
Once you have accomplished that task, consider the following question- Do we think it is morally appropriate to set relationships up like that? In other words, just because you can set it up any way the two of you like, does not mean you should or that it would be good for you, morally.
Gandhi talked about the ego, often without labeling it as such. He notes that we are individuals and part of a greater whole. If we focus on one or the other without acknowledging the context, we lose our way. Within the relationship, we often look at our individual needs out of context of what the marital system needs to function. We may get what we need (often this is a want defined as a need) but at whose expense? Or we look at what we believe is good for the marriage, subjugating our own needs. There is likewise a cost for doing this.
Many couples say they have not thought through the philosophy of their marriage and when they do so, they find it quite a bit easier to make it work. Others say that they do not want to think about it, they just want it to flow. I describe flow in this way: The Summer Olympics 2012 are currently on. After years and years of dedicated practice, these elite athletes perform in a way that looks effortless. That is flow. You cannot ignore your marriage or the skills necessary to be successful in marriage and then expect to make the marriage look effortless, when it is in trouble. It is work, hard work and it is worth the effort.
So what is the meaning?
You give your life meaning by creating meaning, not by finding it.
Gandhi was a fierce critic of modernity. It is said he believed it robbed us of deeper meanings and of connection with ourselves. We abdicate our responsibility when we think this is the only way we can live, and do not question if there are other, perhaps better ways. He would advocate bringing society into harmony with our deepest values, not bringing our values into harmony with current society's values. The same can be said for relationships.
So each marriage has its own meaning, depending on the meaning you create it. The reason so many marriages are meaningless right now, is that the couple has not taken the time to create the meaning.
All the best,
Lucy, I apologize that I cannot get my reply to your comment to work. I am less computer savvy than I thought. Keep the comments coming. They make me think.