I was invited recently to a wedding. My handsome young nephew, the groom, had a smile that could have lit up the universe as his gorgeous blond bride made her way down the aisle to join him in the bonds of matrimony. He was marrying the woman of his dreams, and it was all good. The problem was, like all young kids on their glorious wedding days, my man didn't really know who he was marrying. If he did, he would have quietly slipped out the back of the church before he uttered those fateful words, "I do."
I don't know his beautiful new bride and my comments are in no way a slight on her character. I'm sure she's a fine young woman who loves her new husband with a pure and sincere heart. But I know who she is: She represents the worst personal characteristics of my nephew's parents miraculously and cleverly disguised in an appealing and lovely package.
I sat with the rest of the family and friends and watched as a lethal buzz saw headed down the aisle for a meeting with my handsome nephew, and he could not have been more cluelessly happy to embrace it. He had no fear or awareness of the danger he was in.
My friends, this is what marriage is—for all of us.
Marriage, by its very essence, is pain! Not a very romantic notion, I know. The truth is that we all have experienced some childhood wounding. This world of ours is an extremely flawed place and we all get our share of emotional bumps and bruises when we are tiny, unprotected, and vulnerable. Thankfully, complex, hurting, little human beings then have fortresses of powerful psychological defenses that rise up to provide integrity, protection, and safety. We learn to rationalize, cope, act out, devalue, intellectualize, idealize, deny, undo, disassociate, minimize, displace, project, repress, regress, and otherwise numb all the bad stuff out.1