Posted by: 1of10boyz | July 20, 2014

Marriage isn’t a destination it is a voyage


This is my 400th post. I have been on vacation to the US for the past 4 weeks. Never imagined I would be here at 400 posts.

I have started to write about Marriage many times in the past year or so. I have read much about what other people think about marriage. I have agreed with some and disagreed with many. I decided that I need to at least get something written about how I feel about this. It was recently my 29th Anniversary and I recently attended my son’s wedding. Both have brought very different but happy feelings.

I am very happy for him and his little family. I see how happy they are together and that makes me happy. I love them all so very much and hope that they can find the happiness that I have found with my wife. At this point in their lives and those of my other children I would like to also offer my advice on marriage.

One of the things I read is a recurring series of articles by successful business persons. It is their advice that they would give to themselves if they were 22 years old knowing what they know now. One of these people had this statement in his article:

Don’t get married too soon. I got married when I was thirty-two. That’s about the right age. Until you’re about that age, you may not know who you are. You also may not know who you’re marrying. I don’t know anyone who got married too late. I know many people who got married too young.

I don’t like his advice much. In fact it really tells me a lot about the differences that I have with so many people in the world today. I am sure that he sees the success that he has or hasn’t had in marriage and the disappoint he sees in others marriages and judges that difference to be caused by the difference in maturity levels. Now I won’t argue that being mature goes a long way in making a marriage work. However, we all know people who have aged but never matured.

I also take some offense that you need to be 30-something to know who you are or who you are marrying. He indicates that marrying too soon is a problem. I think that I would take his simple answer as one that describes the immature approach that is too often taken towards marriage. An approach where the selection of a life partner is something like selecting luggage, it needs to feel right, but there is always an option to upgrade or buy new luggage in a few years, that is not marriage. I would also say that you may not need months or years to know whether it is what you want to do either.

Too often people think of marriage as a milestone of achievements or a goal that can be checked off in the process of becoming an adult. Some may even think of marriage as a state of being that brings with it a nirvana of happiness and a destination to attain something or a status of accomplishment.

My advice is that marriage is not a destination, it is a voyage. It is one of the greatest voyages you will ever undertake and it is important to take it with the right person. It is important that the participants on this voyage are committed to the getting to the same destination on this voyage. You can’t take a voyage that isn’t going to do different places at the same time. That destination is more important than the beginning point in marriage in my opinion. I often use the mantra (from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits) Begin with the End in Mind when I think about marriage.

For many of my friends here in China, actually all of them that I know, since my interactions with most Chinese is very limited, marriage or the requirements or hurdles that must be jumped over or through to get to marriage are so very different from anything I have observed before. A “quality” marriage here requires so many different things, house, income, success, status, etc. Those outward and flashy concerns will make little difference in my opinion as to whether the marriage will be successful for decades. I am sure that the western world has its own set of hurdles and requirements and those don’t make a marriage any more or less successful either. My own Mormon culture has its hurdles and some of those should help someone begin their marriage thinking about the end. You might know that Mormons that marry in one of their temples believe that their marriage is sealed for eternity. Their ceremonies do not contain the definitive marriage annulment words of “until death do us part” but are sealed for eternity using the Priesthood Power that was mentioned In Matthew 19:6.

I have often reflected on that sealing between my wife and me over the previous decades. That commitment that we made to each other and that covenant we made to each other has been able to weather the storms of our voyage because we knew that we were going to be together for eternity and no matter what the challenge we were working through it was going to be worth it when we made it through that challenge. We have learned and grown much from those challenges and storms on our voyage together. That fact that we have done it together is far more important to me now than what it was that we did. In most cases I have forgotten the challenge and only remember that strength we have gained by doing it together. Maybe that is the blessing and curse that comes from being a man; my wife is likely to remember the challenge where I am not.

This is the 3rd of my 4 children to take the leap into marriage. I have one more to go. When my daughter told me that she was going to be married I thought about the many things that I had learned. I thought about all the books that I had read. I began to write a list of all the things that I wanted her and her future husband to think about and talk about before they got married. I had a very comprehensive list of things that they should work through together during their courtship and in their marriage. I think she said at the time that it was like a college final exam. In a sense it was intended to be that, a test that would have given her new little family a glimpse into the voyage that was coming. It was intended to give them something that they could do together to understand each other better and to be ready for the challenges that would arise during the voyage of years and decades.

My belief is that marriage is much like a trip around the world in a 32-foot yacht. You are going to get to see some magnificent sunsets and have some wonderful days where the wind and the sea make you feel like there has never been anything more perfect. You are also going to have some days where the wind and the sea are going to make you feel sick, and where you will wonder if they will destroy you and the little yacht. Your little cruise will take you to places of exquisite beauty and joy and it will take you where there is no land in sight and there is nothing but isolation, storm clouds, and waves that pitch your little yacht with the intent of destroying it. That is the voyage of marriage; anyone that thinks it is going to be easy doesn’t have their eyes open and doesn’t realize that you will have to have some bad with the good. Life is like that too, there are bad days and there are good days. The storms of life are actually not even the worst part in my opinion.

One thing I learned in the US Navy is the worst part of being out to sea, day in and day out, is that sometimes it is the sheer boredom that is hardest to bear. They voyage of marriage is too much like this if you let it. That is why it is so important to know what marriage is about, to realize that the destination of your voyage isn’t the marriage itself but something bigger and farther in the distance of time. You don’t want your marriage to be filled boredom punctuated with moments of panic, instances of terror, and occasional exotic ports of call. However, if you don’t continually work at making your marriage work that is the best you can hope for; the worst is, of course, that tragic shipwreck where your marriage is thrown upon the rocks of life and dashed to pieces.

So why would I tell you I disagree with our esteemed businessman’s advice to not marry too soon? Much of that is because I believe there is truth in the Scriptures where God indicates that it is not good that the man should be alone.

I disagree with this businessman’s advice because I am ever so grateful for the influence of a woman in my life when I was travelling some of the stormiest seas of my life. Those portions of my life that occurred from 22 – 32 are ones that I did with a wife and it made all the difference in the world for me.

Maybe I am more than different enough from others that what is important to me isn’t measured in my bank account or by the toys and the houses that I own. My treasures were bought and paid for in those years between the ages of 22 – 28; when my 4 little diamonds in the rough made their first appearance in my family.

I have accepted that I will likely never be the CEO of an international company and I will likely never have 10s of thousands of people that read what my advice is to my 22 year old self. But I do know that there are 4 people who will have families that will want to know what I thought about marriage. And someday there will have a passel of little diamonds in the rough that will want to know what their grandpa or great grandpa thought about these things. I would tell them that I am eternally grateful for a spouse that started the voyage of marriage with me early. I am eternally grateful for her beginning a voyage that had a destination that extended past the end of our frail human existence.

My poor 22 year old self didn’t know much about the voyage but I knew to what end I desired. We didn’t have much when we started but we had each other and we felt like we were rich because of the association and commitment that we had to each other. And though seas were rough, the clouds were dark, and the winds whipped around our little yacht we knew that it would all settle down again so long as we stayed committed to each other and to the goals that we set together as the journey began.

We got married just right and it was too soon by the world’s estimation. We hardly knew each other, we knew nothing of life, we knew nothing of who we were; but we did know where we were going, we knew where we wanted to be at the end of the voyage, and we knew we could get there together. We were just kids. We were uneducated. We had nothing between us to give us any rational belief that we could be successful together. We had little money, a worn out car, and no place to live when we were married. None of that mattered because we knew we could improve together and grow together and we were determined to do it together. So my advice:

Marry right.

Marry someone that will love you for who you are now and what you can grow into in the future. Marry someone that makes you a better you, someone that makes you want to be better than you are and helps you be that someone. Marry someone that believes in you. Marry someone that will lift you up when you are feeling down. Marry someone that doesn’t judge you for what you have or don’t have. Marry someone that will stay with you when the times are hard.

Marry someone that believes in what you believe in, even when you doubt that you believe in it. Marry someone that can be your best friend, your confidant, and your sharer and keeper of secrets. Marry someone that you can’t imagine living your life without. Marry someone that makes you happy to be with them all the time, even when it is hard to be with or around them.

Don’t decide that it can’t be this one because you or they aren’t some specified age, because that just isn’t true. When one comes along that does these things and more you will know it. Look for the opportunity to start the voyage and enjoy the trip.

Finally another lesson from my life and the time I have spent in the US Navy. Often the best sea stories are the ones where the terror was thick, the panic intense, and the end looks nothing like the beginning. So too has been my experience with marriage, it is those moments that make it all worthwhile because the results at the end are so fabulous in comparison to the struggles that we made it through together. Make the voyage together when you are learning who you are and what you want to be so that you have someone to help you make those decisions and be there for you.

My Son

The wedding.

My Family that attended.

The Family in attendance.

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Responses

  1. Hearing these words, I know that my Eternal companion truly loves me and our family. And I truly love him.

    • Yes, that is true. There have been scoffers a many. We may be instant noodles but sometimes instant noodles can last for decades.


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