Married life is many things but it is never boring!
When we are talking about marriage to high school students invariably some guy at the back of the room asks me as the husband “but doesn’t it get boring sleeping with the same women every night?”. In today’s confused understanding of sexuality it’s perhaps not a surprising question from a young adolescent.
To their surprise my fast comeback is: “Of course not, I sleep with a different woman every night! It’s what makes our marriage so exciting”. It’s not what they expect so it certainly gets their attention (and it’s also fun to watch the blood drain from the face of the Principal at the back of the room). So as the room goes quiet I go on to explain that my wife, like myself, is constantly growing and changing. At the most obvious level I point out that the young 21 one year old student I married is now a mother of five who I have known and loved as my wife for 26 years. She is certainly the same person I married but she is not the same woman.
But then I go on to explain that, if I am paying attention, I also come to realise that she is also not the same person tonight as she was last night. In fact one of the great mysteries of love is that while at one level over years of marriage we come to know each other deeply, at another level we realise how much more we still have to learn about each other. The depths of intimacy we can achieve together reveal even more depths to explore. To paraphrase Shrek: “lovers have layers”. So I go on to explain that, while when we are making love at the physical level we are ‘having sex’, but that at a whole other, more profound level we are also achieving a profoundly intimate communion of two persons, both of which are constantly changing; by the year, the month, the day, the minute.
That is never boring because if we are awake and attentive, it is always different.
The same conversation with married men usually gets a good laugh and the usual jokes about ‘who can ever know a woman’. Again, behind the well intentioned humour is the lurking truth; that when we are not looking for the changes in each other then we are surprised and confused when confronted with them: What just happened? Is it something I did? something I said? something I didn’t say?… is often the unspoken cry of the husband!
Thinking of our marriage as ‘sleeping with a different person every night’ is a fun but also powerful reminder that we need to both expect and look for change in each other, every day. Our marriages are never static; they are the interface of two people who are constantly changing; sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. Sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. If we are not alert we may think things are static, unchanging and perhaps even a bit too predictable, but just because we aren’t paying attention doesn’t stop the changes.
After all, marriage is meant to be a dangerous adventure!