It was your big day. Everyone gathered to send the happy couple into the world. Happy together, ready to tackle the world. Making each other happy.

What a lie!

Oh, I sure do hope you were happy on your wedding day. And yes, your family and friends did gather to wish you well, sending you out to take on the world. Together.

But making each other happy? Lie.

Okay, to be fair, the lie part is the expectation that your spouse should make you happy. You can be happy together. You can even find joy in your relationship.

Fair is fair, right? A partnership should be equal, with both people participating and contributing equally, right?

So, if that partner isn’t doing their fair share, it would be fair for you to withhold that, too. Right? And if that partner gets something, its only fair for you to get that same thing, right?

This one couple, I had known for years. They seemed so close at one point. But over the years, the distance grew. They slowly pulled away from each other, turning cold and resentful. When they told me they were giving up on the marriage, I wanted…

“You can tell that we shouldn’t be married,” he told me, “because we keep on arguing!”

“You argue,” I reflected. He nodded. “Right,” I continued, “but why shouldn’t you be married?”

“Because,” he emphasized, “we argue!”

To make the point, I again noted, “Got it. You argue. But why should you not be married?”

Ironically, I could feel an argument rising. My client was buying another lie of marriage: arguing and fighting in a marriage means the marriage is wrong.

**To be clear, we are not discussing abuse here. By “fighting,” I do not mean physical or emotional violence. I…

What starts an unintentional lie? Does it just emerge or is it constructed over time?

The first evidence of marriage dates to around 2350 BC, in ancient Mesopotamia. At that time, marriage was more about property, progeny, and survival. It tied the parents of a child together, created a clear distinction of private property, and meant that there was more help in doing what had to be done to survive. Farming was easier with two (plus the offspring). The same with baking or any other work. Marriage, at that time, was not so much about love. …

“I give up,” he said, throwing up his arms. He was ready to walk out on our session. Before he walked out, I asked, “Can you tell me what just happened? Why are you giving up?”

He told me, “It shouldn’t be this hard! Look, we have struggled throughout, this marriage. Not just now. Other times, too. I just believe that if you are struggling in a marriage… if things aren’t just moving forward… it isn’t meant to be. It’s wrong. It shouldn’t be this hard.” And he turned to leave.

I responded, “That’s a big fat lie you are…

When I was 10 or 11 years old, my father took us to my first haunted house. It was right near our church and was run by a community group that was fundraising. My father thought it would be good, clean fun. A few little scares, but nothing else.

The building was old, and scary by itself. And I should have known when the “ghoul” of a guide jumped out and scared us. But I innocently followed our guide into that building.

Never since have I been so terrified! They were not there for us to have a good time…

“Would you agree that the present is perfect?” I asked. My client was having none of that. “Absolutely not!” she said, “I am miserable. My marriage is crumbling, my kids are driving me crazy, and I am ready to quit my job! It is anything but perfect.”

I was not quite so sure. “I think it is,” I noted to her dismayed eyes. I thought I had better explain before she stomped out of my office in mid-session.

Perfect does not mean preferred. It means something is absolute or complete. So, you may take a bite of something that is…

There was a point in my career when any couple who wanted to get married in five local churches had to pass through my office for three sessions on the way to the altar. In those three sessions, I was supposed to make sure they were as ready as possible to be married.

Marriage is an important — many argue the most important — relationship in adult life. People pledge to spend the rest of their lives together “till death do us part.” Yet nearly half of marriages in the United States end in divorce. …

“She’s in denial,” the doctor told me, “You’ve got to get her to face reality!”

I was a young chaplain in a local hospital, and this was the next task of the day. My job was to get a patient diagnosed with terminal cancer to “face” her diagnosis — to accept her death sentence from the doctor.

At that time, this was the task of “grief work.” We misunderstood the stages of grief. We assumed people needed to be dragged through the stages as quickly as possible. We needed to shove them into acceptance. …

“I think I hit it’” my client told me. It was just a few days ago, and he had been self-isolating since mid-March. Up until the last couple of days, he was feeling pretty good about things. Sure, he was waiting for “when things get back to normal,” but he had stocked up, was following social distancing, passing time being as productive as possible.

But he hit it — The Wall. When we talked, he was still in his bathrobe, had managed to scroll his social feeds, refresh his emails repeatedly, and eat leftover pizza… followed by stale doughnuts. That…

Lee H. Baucom

Doing my best to be my best. Thriveologist working at thriving and helping others to thrive. Family guy who loves to paddle, run, and roll.

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