Thursday, June 30, 2011

BFF

Attended a wedding last weekend. The bride was beautiful; the groom stunning; the mothers, teary-eyed; the flower girl, cute; the ring bearer, restless.

The officiant knew the couple well, and it was obvious their friendship went past the mandatory pre-marriage counseling sessions. He joked about the groom’s propensity to sweat, the bride’s attention to detail, the tense moments of their counseling sessions. His message, based on passages from the third chapter of Colossians, encouraged them to lead lives that reflected compassion, kindness, humility, quite service, and patience. 

Then--and here’s the particular moment I’ll remember--he asked the couple to face each other, and he reminded them that they are each other’s best friend. Forever.


I wish I could remember a specific comment or two from the pastor’s message at our wedding. I remember the family, the friends, the champagne, the dance, the hot tub.  But the only pastoral message or piece of advice I remember was made at one of our pre-marital counseling sessions. It alluded to our stubbornness, a trait Ken and I preferred to call “assertiveness,” or “decisiveness” or “leadership.” 

“You know you’re both first-borns,” our pastor said. “And that means that both of you can’t be in charge. You’ll have to learn to give-and-take, to compromise.”

It was good advice, and we’ve referred to it often during our 23 years of marriage -- sometimes in jest and sometimes to diffuse an escalating argument. But I think the spouse-is-your-BFF admonition makes a stronger statement about the chances a couple has of celebrating their 50th or 60th wedding anniversary.

The challenge is to recognize the time and the work that’s necessary in building that best-friend relationship.

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"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, 
but in looking outward together in the same direction."
                Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1900-1944
                                 French aviator and Writer, best known for The Little Prince, published in 1943
                                 From his memoir, Wind, Sand, Stars which details his 1935 crash in the Sahara Desert

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Book Note

A few months ago, I reviewed “How to Love” by Dr. Gordon Livingston for the Internet Review of Books. He draws upon his four decades as a practicing psychiatrist to analyze the character traits he believes help us find long-term happiness. He doesn’t believe in love at first sight, but he does think the perfect person exists:  
 Not necessarily perfect by any objective standard but perfect for us (or perfectible with us),” Livingston writes. “What is more likely is that people who have the right combination of love and discernment become perfect for each other. The connections we form involve a process in which the bonds of physical attraction are strengthened by shared experiences of pleasure and sorrow.