“You’re about to have your first baby!”
This is one of the little sayings I sometimes suggest to couples in the homily at their wedding. Sure, the sentence gets everyone to perk up a little bit. Sure, it can make for a little surprise. It both builds suspense and takes the edge of anxiety. Beyond those reasons, I say this because I want to help all of us recognize that what’s about to happen is truly the creation of a new life—the marital relationship.
There are numerous unity rituals to mark this creation…whether water, sand, or fire…we have visual symbols to represent this “third thing” between the couple. But like so many parts of life, that which is invisible, the actual relationship itself, can easily be forgotten, neglected, and taken for granted.
When an infant enters your family, there is no denying her presence. When an infant graces your home, there is no way to ignore the need for food, changing, attention and love. There are a myriad of cries to get your attention. Overtime, you learn to disinguish their sounds.
A marriage may not be so obvious in its needs, but it, too, cries out for attention. When couples find themselves engaging the vicious cycle of blame and withdraw, a marriage cries out. When days go by without an honest connection, a marriage cries out. When time and energy are continually taken by both and not replaced, a marriage cries out. Also, like an infant, a marital relationship does not have a voice to articulate that it’s hungry, thirsty, or in need of a little TLC. And, like with parents, the couple needs to listen and look for the cries and attend to them.
Imagine if we all entered our marriages honoring the relationship as if it were a newborn. Imagine if we recognized that our marriage, like growing humans, go through stages of growth and change.