Marriages, IPODs, and "Always On My Mind"
Mom and Dad celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary yesterday. I was writing a tribute to either post here or give them, and realized how much there is private -- either private between the two of them, or private to our nuclear family that consists of them and me and my brother and sister. It is "good privacy" -- not the kind that allows disfunction to flourish unchecked by public intervention or disapproval, but the kind of privacy that allows real intimacy to develop, unchecked by concern as to whether the things I share with you will be shared anywhere else by you.
The one thing I will share in my observations of their marriage is that marriage really is not a set of communication techniques and ways of doing things in the relationship that make the relationship healthy or not. Marriage is the union of two people, and is as healthy as each one of those people. I do not think it is possible to have a "good marriage" with two people who are not growing, healthy persons, and I do not think it is possible to have a "bad marriage" with two people who are both really growing and open to changing in healthy ways. But, just as one good ballplayer doesn't make a team a winning team, one committed, healthy partner can't make a marriage a committed, healthy, happy marriage. It takes two. And my parents are that, and I am so grateful both for their examples and for their love and nurturing of me and my brother and sister -- as children and now as adults.
My own marriage was blessed yesterday by the "rebirth" of my ipod. (For Christmas, Dad and Mom gave me a 60-gig ipod on which I'd put my whole library of music, audio books, sermons, Wednesday-Night-Together Bible Studies from my church, and all my favorite digital pictures. I could use it with earphones when necessary, but also hook it up to my car stereo or to the Bose system in my bedroom or to the Sony sound-system in our family room, and do housework or drive or do anything that is essentially mindless work with the accompaniment of music or an audiobook. But I gave my laptop to my college student and got a new laptop a few weeks ago, and the first time I hooked my ipod up to the new laptop, it flashed and went black, and never worked again. Well, yesterday Apple replaced it with a brand-new one for free, and I am so happy!) My husband is a fan of classic rock -- pretty much just classic rock -- and, although I like it too, I have a lot of other things that I take joy in that annoy him to no end. So an ipod is a blessing for us! He can watch what he wants on TV and not be bothered by hearing whatever it is that I want to listen to while I am working in the kitchen or doing laundry or doing whatever -- and I can not be annoyed by hearing the TV, too.
I have had the song Always on My Mind by Willie Nelson going through my head for days now, which is strange because I always hated that song. I always took it as a cop-out -- "I treated you badly, but at least I always had warm feelings toward you and thought about you." But, as I've been thinking about those lyrics, and thinking about marriage and friendships, I realize how much that is exactly what we get from our intimate friends and family members that meets the deepest needs we have -- "someone genuinely cares about me and thinks of me often." And, as far as the "treating a loved-one badly" part of it, I have realized that those who deliberately treat anyone badly -- "loved-one" or not -- do not possess the ability to genuinely care about anyone other than themselves. And, for the rest of us, our ability to treat well the people in our lives that we care about deeply is limited by so many things . . . but not being able to fully live out the kind of caring I feel for my two older sons does not make the genuine love I possess for them something that they cannot feel and respond to. And the same is true in other friendships.
Real love and affection is valuable and felt, and shows itself in many ways. It can't not.