Monday, March 26, 2007

Marriage, happiness and spiritual growth

I don’t write much about a subject that I’m fascinated with, but which remains largely theoretical to me—marriage. I pore over the chapter in Science and Health at least once a year, trying to prepare myself for the eventuality (if it ever comes), but also to learn how to support those who are struggling in their marriages. And I’ve found some interesting themes in the chapter that have served me well in any relationship I’ve had.

One theme in Mary Baker Eddy’s chapter on marriage is happiness. I went through the chapter once and marked all the instances of happiness and words related to it: joy, enjoyment, gladness, pleasing, smiles, amusement. In 14 pages, these concepts occur 24 times.

I believe MBE gave us then the key to a successful marriage—happiness. A marriage can be wealthy or poor, lengthy or new, famous or obscure, but if it’s happy, we count it as a success. And the best way to achieve happiness is to make this a priority. The idea, I think (and correct me if I’m wrong, those of you who are married), is not so much to be happy ourselves or to make the other person happy, but to work to ensure that the *marriage* is happy. The marriage is a third thing that the two partners are striving to create together.

This line of thinking clarified for me a passage that had often seemed problematic:

The nuptial vow should never be annulled, so long as its moral obligations are kept intact; but the frequency of divorce shows that the sacredness of this relationship is losing its influence, and that fatal mistakes are undermining its foundations. Separation never should take place, and it never would, if both husband and wife were genuine Christian Scientists. Science inevitably lifts one's being higher in the scale of harmony and happiness. --Science and Health

I remember the day that I gleaned a new insight on the last two sentences—there a causal relationship there. *Because* Science inevitably “lifts one’s being higher in the scale of … happiness,” to be a genuine Christian Scientist is to be happy. Therefore, separation need never take place, because a marriage between two such Scientists will be happy.

I loved the idea of including happiness in the definition of what it means to be a Christian Scientist. It brought the discipline of spiritual practice out of a gloomy, self-flagellating realm into joy, light and hope. We are meant to be happy. Happiness is an indicator that we’re seeing things correctly. If we’re not happy, it’s just a reminder or a clue to adjust toward the Divine, where happiness awaits us.

Married or not, you’re entitled to happiness. It’s a requirement on the path of spiritual progress. Yay!

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 3/26/2007 09:22:00 AM, Anonymous susie said...

Thanks so much for the article on happiness and marriage... they certainly should go hand in hand..happiness just like health is a daily checking and guarding of ones thought, but can be challenging and fun at the same time!! Keep up the great blogging!

At 3/26/2007 11:05:00 AM, Anonymous Dennis R said...

This June my wife and I will celebrate 33 years of marriage. We both feel that we were made for each other. The Scripture says that "They shall be one flesh." My wife and I are so connected that what makes one happy makes the other happy as well.

I adore my wife and I feel that whatever helps her to be fulfilled and joyous blesses me as well as her.

At 3/26/2007 11:25:00 AM, Blogger Tim C said...

Thank you very much for your inspiration Laura. You are the reason that I was inspired to write my own blog that I hope will inspire teenagers as well as others.

To answer your question, yes, the link from netflix that you gave me is the same movie. It's a very fascinating story about why they are releasing the movie again (it came out at first in the summer). Best Buy is offering free tickets for the premiere weekend (up to 15 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH!!!!!) because they would like to see this movie be able to compete with big named movies. If the movie is anything like the book, it will inspire thousands of people.

Thanks again for your support with my blog. I almost closed it last week because animal magnetism came to me and said "why are you doing this?" and literally almost convinced me to shut it down.


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