Thursday, May 1, 2008

Marriage and Ego

In one of my wedding homilies, I remind everyone of the well known saying, "You can be right, or you can be happy.", and then I say, "It's never so true as in marriage. If you insist on keeping score, on being vindicated, on preserving your dignity - you very well may fail in love." This preaches well, but these behaviors seem second nature to most of us. After all, if we don’t keep score, won’t we leave ourselves in a weak position? And who among us doesn’t want to be vindicated and proven right? And why not at the very least determine to protect our dignity? And yet these behaviors stamp out love. Don’t get me wrong, marriage is not about being a pleaser, a pushover or a doormat. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I’m talking about being led around by the nose by my ego – which controls me by fear, so that whether I speak up or shut up, I’m doing it out of fear and not out of love. I like what Vincent Roazzi says in his book The Spirituality of Success, “If you do not have a plan for your ego, it will have a plan for you. You can be the master of your ego or you can be its slave. It’s your choice.” If I’m circling the wagons – either to protect myself, or in preparation for a fight – then I’m being dominated by my ego – by my innate desire not to be hurt. Let me lash out, let me withdraw into my cave – anything but speaking up or standing up in love. If I let the walls go up, I protect myself from hurt, but I also keep myself from love. The first course feels safe and familiar. The second course feels foreign and frightening. In choosing it, I determine to love without regard to how I may be hurt. I drop my defenses and refuse to play games. There is no guaranteed outcome, but what occurs is the possibility of a deeper human connection. I need this, and so does my partner or friend, but it’s counterintuitive and so very uncomfortable. In the Psalms it says of God’s compassions that “they are new every morning.” Among other things I take this to mean that with each new day I receive a clean slate to give this another try. That’s what I need. It’s a long learning curve. Maybe today I’ll do better.

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Clergy on Call ministries was started by Reverend William Britton. Pastor Bill is an ordained minister (clergy) serving as a wedding officiant or wedding minister – helping couples to write their wedding vows and plan their wedding ceremony so that they have “no regrets” on their day of celebration - whether religious ceremonies or civil ceremonies. (Pastor Bill is also available if you’re renewing your marriage vows, or eloping or doing a destination wedding.) Pastor Bill serves couples planning a wedding in the Greater New York area including Long Island (Nassau County and Suffolk County), Queens, Brooklyn, New York City (Manhattan), and Westchester County. If you’re thinking of using a Judge for your wedding, or a Justice of the Peace – or if you’re thinking of going to city hall for your wedding – or perhaps you’re working on a last minute wedding plan –in any case, Pastor Bill would love to speak with you. (Pastor Bill is also available for families that have suffered the loss of a loved one and are planning a funeral.)

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