Saturday, July 26, 2008

(More) Married!

Last night I dreamed that Göran and Glen and I found cockroaches in the kitchen of our apartment. (In real life, we live in a house, not an apartment!) We tore open a wall near the entryway and discovered thousands -- perhaps millions! -- of cockroaches inside the wall. They were infesting the entire apartment building, not just our apartment. We realized that our ability to clear the apartment of cockroaches was beyond our power. We called a service, and told them that we needed them to help us rid our apartment building of cockroaches. We then left the apartment, walking along beautiful white, open-air sky-ways. We were on our way to a joyous event -- our wedding. My family was walking with us. As we walked, my dad and I were discussing the Church. I told my dad that I had studied the teachings of all the apostles and all the prophets. I had studied all the teachings of Thomas S. Monson, both before he became the prophet and since. Based on my studies, there was no doubt left in my mind that Thomas S. Monson was a prophet of God. I bore my testimony to my father. Then I woke up with an incredible, peaceful feeling. That is how I started my wedding day.

There were simple things that helped me prepare mentally and spiritually in the twenty-four hours leading up to the event. My favorite white cotton dress shirt was terribly wrinkled. The night before, I slowly and carefully ironed it with a steam iron, working out each wrinkle one at a time. Then I neatly set aside the clothes I would be wearing the next day -- both my wedding tuxedo, shirt, tie, shoes; and the more casual clothes we would be wearing before and after the wedding for family picture-taking and lunch. I set aside the marriage license and other important documents, and of course the rings. In the morning, before the rest of my family was awake, I wrote in my journal and held my morning scripture study. The day was fairly hectic from there on out, but that early morning calm, and my memories of the dream helped keep me centered.


The dream reminded me of the falsehood of certain romanticized notions of marriage. We enter marriage as sinful, imperfect beings. We enter into and accept the covenants of marriage pitifully blind to our own weaknesses. It is only in living together in the kind of commitment that marriage requires that we begin to become aware of how truly weak we are. Marriage offers us an opportunity to perfect ourselves, to build the kind of house we want to live in. We discover that our sins and imperfections are beyond our own ability to correct on our own. We need help from a source that is greater than ourselves. That is why, I believe, in order for a marital covenant to work we need to humble ourselves and turn to God. If we ask for help, God will help us perfect ourselves, and perfect our marital home.


Earlier this evening, Göran and I were discussing the nature of the commitment we made today. We smiled together at the notion that we were now "more married" than we were before. We entered into a certain kind of commitment almost sixteen years ago. We formalized that commitment in an extra-legal ceremony thirteen years ago. Today we renewed that commitment in a legal and religious ceremony that has civil recognition and standing in some jurisdictions and nations, and no recognition or standing in other jurisdictions and nations. (No standing in the state where we reside.) Thus we are still on a journey of "becoming" more married. Perhaps someday Minnesota, perhaps some day the United States as a whole, will recognize our union and we will become yet "more married" than we are today. We are still somewhere on a continuum of being more married than we were before, but less married than our heterosexually married friends and neighbors.


But this continuum of marriage, this journey of marriedness, as anomalous as it seems and feels at times, perhaps reflects the reality that a marriage might merely be a ceremony until we make it real, until we perfect ourselves, perfect our marital home in such a way that our commitments, our covenants become real and durable and powerful. If our marriage does not challenge us and force us to struggle, it cannot have the power to transform us into the kind of people we can become. There is never a point when we can rest on our laurels and say, "Now we're married; we don't need to work at this any more!" For Latter-day Saints, who believe in eternal marriage, this means that in a sense we qualify for the blessing of eternal marriage by perfecting our commitments in such a way that they can last more than a life time. Marriage becomes the crucible in which perfected selves and perfected families are created.

The last half of my dream reminded me of what I cannot "unknow." I have a testimony of the Church and of the Gospel in all their embodied beauty. I have a testimony of real, living prophets who have names and addresses. I have a testimony of an actual body of people, a living community, who show up in wards and stakes and missions. I have a testimony of a literal priesthood that emanates from God, that resides in mortal hands and hearts as one of the most precious gifts we have in this world of pain and darkness, ordinances that can bind on earth and in Heaven, power that can heal and enlighten.

I also know that in making the covenants we made today, we did the right thing. We did what we needed to do.

I am still wrestling the angel and demanding my blessing.

Until I receive it, here we are in this nether, half-way state. Merely more married.

11 comments:

Scot said...

Congratulations!

We'll be there in about a week.

Beck said...

AUGURI!

What a fantastic dream and more fantastic reality!

Congratulations on being "more married".

P.S. Congrats to you, Scot as well!

J G-W said...

Scot - I was wondering when you were going to get more married as well... I'll be thinking of you...

Beck - Thanks so much! It was a joyous event for us, a wonderful time with family. But still does feel like just one more (very significant) step in a long journey.

Eleanor's Papa said...

Congratulations to all of you on the great occasion, and on getting "more married" --

I used to quibble about the paradox of forming a "more perfect union," since most dictionaries suggest that something can't a little bit perfect. But as you suggest, being/becoming married turns out to be both an event and an ongoing process....

santorio said...

these events are all so good. i'm so happy for all of you.

coming up a different path, i have come to a similar conclusion about marriage. difficulties with the church, disappointments at work, i have decided that my current "mission" or "purpose" in life is just to make the best of my marriage. if that means missing out on something at work, or being less active at church (my wife is more and more estranged), so be it. if i focus on our relationship, i am confident that the other pieces will come together some day. i can't multi-task on this, it's too important

Reuben said...

Congratulations. I wish you the best.

I have greatly enjoyed reading your posts (and perusing the archives) for the past month or two. Your writing gives me strength.

J G-W said...

Reuben - Thank you so much! Thanks for your kind words and your presence!

J G-W said...

E's Papa - I like the paradox of "more perfection." It makes sense in a spiritual context where we are created perfect by Heavenly Parents, and yet we are on a journey to become more than what we are... It also makes sense in the context of a relationship...

Santorio - Thanks for your (poignant) comment... I was hoping some of the mixed orientation Moho's might comment on how the relate to this experience of marriage...

GeistX said...

Congrats John and Goran!

Brian Benington said...

I'm was so delighted to see this when I read some of your blog today. Duane and think back on our meetings with the two of you with great fondness -- and look forward to seeing both of you someday, again!

J G-W said...

Brian! Welcome to my blog! Thanks for the comments...

It feels like it's been AGES since we've been to Salt Lake, but it is inevitable that we will be there some time within the next year. When we do, we will definitely want to see you again!