#17 Where Love Begins... (Pondering on "THE MANY LOVES OF MARRIAGE")

I bought this book, The Many Loves of Marriage, more than 8 years ago and decided now would be a good time to read it. I plucked it out of my personal library when I was home for Christmas. It's written by Thomas Kinkade, the acclaimed "Painter of Light". What's not to like about a book that has two of the elements I believe deeply in: art and love? Only that, Kinkade shattered his own words and died a broken man. But still, I concluded Kinkade was only human and there are good advice we can all take heed of. It'll help us realize that we are not immune to troubles and to take loving care to protect our marriage—not some times, not when we are in the mood—but ALWAYS.

This book, which I finished today in one sitting, talks about celebrating an enduring love, an exploring love, an attentive love, a sharing love, a spontaneous love, and a sheltering love. I'd like to share some of the passages or quotes from the book that resonated with me. I hope you'll find them meaningful too.

On dreams (of finding and maintaining the love you've found):
Dreams are like a fire in your fireplace; you can't leave the house, run a dozen errands and expect the fire to keep burning merrily on its own. A fire must be tended. It's the same with dreams. If you don't pursue them, garner them up, treasure them, and build upon them through the years, they'll wane and fade. If you don't guard them from the push and pull and pressures of life—the constant exigencies and urgencies and responsibilities—you'll be left with a cold heart and the ashes of "what might have been."

On building memories:
Given the choice between an experience or a possession, I'll take the experience every time. After all, possessions come and go. Possessions lose their luster and wear out. But an experience lasts a lifetime, gaining radiance and joy with each retelling.

On change:
Unlike the motionless world of a painting, marriage—and life itself—is constantly changing. It must be so, for (have you noticed?) the person you married is constantly changing. And by the way...so are you.

On tender habits:
Inspiration grows out of the daily routine of being the place of inspiration, [...]. In the same way, feelings of love and romance happen in marriage as we practice the love and kindness and tenderness and creativity that we have developed as habits through the years.

On how relationship goes south:
Decay occurs in small increments with a devastating cumulative effect. When it comes to gardens, vineyards, and the relationship between a husband and wife, it doesn't take much neglect to bring poverty and loss to your own front door.

Just a little bit of compromise, a little bit of selfishness, a little of ho-hum attitude, and that place of beauty and refuge begins to crumble right before your eyes. "Thorns everywhere...the ground covered in weeds...the stone wall in ruins."

On communication and small gestures:
And guess what? If you're daily working through those small questions, small irritants, small confessions and reconciliations, small joys, disappointments, and serendipities of life, it won't be so difficult when the time comes to speak of weightier things. You'll move right into them in a natural, unpretentious way. This is "time in the garden." This is the sort of interaction that keeps a husband and wife linked and engaged with one another hour by hour, day by day.

On sharing:
Relational bridges do that for us, too. They lift us up above those fears and burdens each of us carries and bring us to a safe place of coming together—a place where we share our worries and concerns with one another and find our load lightened. Bridges in marriage are those things that bind you together day by day: communication, compliments, understanding, support, fun, laughter, experiences (both good and bad), overcoming challenges together, children, regular sexual expression, time together, shared faith, and prayer.

So we meet each other in the middle of that bridge called Esteem and find perspective and strength to walk hand in hand into each new day.

On spontaneity:
Your life as a couple is a canvas, and your experiences are the brush.
There is a balance, of course, between planning and spontaneity. You sketch out the big plan and the major direction, but you leave room for discovery, for adventure, for the unexpected.

I've concluded that a rich, interesting life boils down to an attitude of the heart, not material circumstances.

Real life will always contain an element of risk, an element of the unknown, an element of surprise about it. And if we don't seek out such experiences, we will never taste the sweet serendipities that might have been ours. Living in an illusion of prudence and safety, we could put our marriage relationship in peril of a fatal disease. 

On sheltering love:
Home. It is your sanctuary, your refuge, your antidote to all the world offers. 

Within those protective, sheltering walls, we open our hearts and lives to one another.

Part of what it means to have a sheltering love is to overlook and cover for each other in our areas of weakness. Where one is weak, the other is strong. When one is discouraged, the other steps in with a smile and a positive word. We're there for each other through all the highs and lows.

A sheltering love moves in to assist and encourage, rather than criticize, nag, or ridicule.

So, how do I feel after finishing the book? I feel utterly blessed to be married to a man who esteems me, listens and supports me in what I do (and what I can't do), and he includes me in his decisions. I feel very fortunate to be able to reciprocate and the best part is he lets me do that. We have a long road ahead of us. In Kinkade's words: Picture two backpackers, a man and a woman, setting out on a journey. As well as they are able, they have prepared themselves for the long trek. They're excited. They're also inexperienced, untested, unproven, and just a little bit scared. Yet they have the essentials. They have a good compass. They have provision. And they have each other.

Despite the sad ending of Thomas Kinkade's life, this is still a good book. It only goes to show that humans—even the God-fearing, religious ones—succumbed to drugs and alcohol, failed marriage and deception. What does this tell the rest of us? For me, I want to live an honest, kind, and meaningful life. And love the man I married for as long as I am alive.