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.
Email this posting to a friend with the envelope icon below.