peer advice, support, inspiration
After years of counseling, Dr. Warren concluded the single factor that determines the success of a marriage is choosing the right partner. Poorly matched partners find themselves stumbling and falling over the slightest bumps in the road. But well-matched partners can generally handle whatever life throws at them.
Dr. Warren devised an algorithm that uses 29 areas of compatibility to match people. However, as someone who has been happily married for 32 years, I want to say it is not all so scientific. Even though I am an admirer of eHarmony and Dr. Warren, I believe there is something even more fundamental that is missing from the methodology he prescribes. What is missing is the area of Spiritual Compatibility. If you don’t share a common interest in the Beatles, basketball, or dancing, that is one thing, but if you don’t share core spiritual beliefs and values then that is a serious issue. We need common blueprints.
If we follow the creator’s plan, we are much more likely to be successful in relationships. You might go to IKEA, get a new Expedit shelving unit, and want to put it together yourself right away without reading the instructions; but you’ll quickly find there are pieces left over and that the structural integrity of your adorable new shelving unit has been compromised. You should have followed the instructions. With some duct tape and wire you might make it work, but it won’t be as beautiful or functional as it was intended. Some of you do-it-yourselfers can get away with it. But when you have two people building something together you need a shared plan.
Can you imagine the frustration of contractors working on a building according to different blueprints? There would be conflicting dimensions, mis-matched materials, uncoordinated workers, and it would just be an overall messy situation. It would be analogous to two people beginning a relationship with two different plans on what the relationship is going to look like. She has her experiences, beliefs, and expectations and he has his own. Through the course of the relationship, their conflicting blueprints will be revealed. I believe that God has given us a blueprint for making a wonderful family and community. It is a trustworthy blueprint.
I believe there are three aspects of this blueprint that are important to consider.
1. Be clear about the Purpose of Marriage.
Marriage has a spiritual purpose. One definition of being spiritual is to always move towards connection or oneness. All holy teachers tell us the same thing, that Nirvana, ultimate spirituality, or heaven is to recognize and embody that interconnectedness. The history of man is that we started in separation, from our creator and from each other, and throughout history we have been gradually moving away from separation to realize and manifest our true connectedness. Along the way teachers have opened up new realms of spirituality that allow mankind to collectively take a leap forward. I believe that True Parents did this in modern times through the Blessing.
If we understand that the purpose of life and indeed the purpose of marriage is to pursue the spiritual path towards interconnectedness then we can always seek to act, speak, and even think based on our highest spiritual values, asking yourself “does this lead towards connection or separation?” When we act according to our highest spiritual values then we do things and say things that lead us to oneness, to connectedness. The primary place to practice that is in the unit of the family, as husband and wife, and modeling spirituality for the future generations.
The purpose of marriage is not simply “to be happy.” If that is the purpose then the moment I am no longer happy with my marriage I can easily quit because it is not meeting the purpose. The real purpose of marriage is much deeper than that. It is to manifest the love of God more fully than an individual ever can. It is to reach for heavenly connectedness as we seek to lift up our spouses and children to heaven. The inevitable result, as a by-product, is extreme happiness, in fact JOY. The very purpose of life.
Embrace the blueprint of the creator.
2. Be a successful single
Being single is not a disease. Being single is an opportunity. Don’t be resistant to change yourself. Be ever growing. Challenge yourself. Growth comes through challenge. Avoid seeking comfort and being lazy.
Don’t be in too big of a hurry to rush into marriage. Do so when you are successful as a single person, living a fully alive, purposeful and adventurous single life. Ask yourself “Am I happy living the life I have as a single person?” If not then you have a wonderful opportunity for growth in this realm of heart. Don’t feel rushed or pressured to go to the next realm of heart with great gaps in your life as a single person. Surely it was the plan of God that we grow as a single and enjoy the life of being a brother or sister and friend while exploring who we are and what we want to contribute to the world.
Don’t act out of desperation. Live a great life as a single person. Develop a rich social life with meaningful activities and above all be growing as a person, not stagnant. Stretch yourself into a wonderful, healthy, joy-making human being. Such a single, person will surely attract a mate of the highest quality.
3. Work with your parents and community to ensure success.
In our church we used to do “matchings” where the mate selection was in the hands of True Parents or our parents or an elder. Now we practice “Parent Assisted Mate Selection” This is different from the individualistic culture that we live in. It is also different from the eHarmony method which often sounds like we can just punch in what we want and the computer will select the ideal mate for us. In the Parent Assisted Mate Selection process there is a much more spiritual dynamic taking place. First of all, through prayer and connection to the heavenly source, the process takes on a much larger dimension than just looking for someone to make us happy. There is a holiness to the process. Through the unity of parents (or a matching advisor) and the young adult something magical can begin to happen. Based on even a small amount of faith God and the spiritual world can intervene and help the connection of two spiritually compatible people by giving inspiration to the parties involved (who are after all spiritual beings).
Our mate selection process is no longer as strange as it once seemed in our culture. Last year representatives from our church Blessed Family Ministry presented our Parent Assisted Mate Selection process at the largest gathering of marriage educators in America and were well received. That could never have happened even a few years ago. The interest in online matching sites also tells us that there is a deep dissatisfaction with the failing romance based mate selection.
However, even a “match made in heaven” needs to be maintained on earth. The commitment to growth must take place on earth. Every young couple must determine their spiritual practices and their community involvement. Spiritual growth doesn’t happen automatically, it takes effort and intentionality. With a Blessed beginning and a continuous recommitment to the spiritual values that we pledge to in the Blessing ceremony, we can make marriages which bring joy to the couple, joy to their families, joy to their community and yes, even bring a smile to God. We can contribute to World Peace by creating such a family.