On April 13, 1965, Yumi and I got married.
In this picture, we are on our way to our honeymoon in Hong Kong.
We are now in our 55th year of marriage, and what have we learned?
One core learning for us has been that in April 1965 we were not the “perfect couple” coming together in marriage. But rather we were an imperfect couple, learning over the years, through countless failures and occasional near despair, to embrace and enjoy our differences.
As a young couple, we made a vow to each other. It was that we would make our relationship and our family into a Mikdash Me’at. A Mikdash Me’at is Hebrew for “a small sanctuary”. It is a sacred place.
It was a wonderful intention. However, we noticed very soon that our little fights and then our bigger power struggles did not make for a sacred place. Having no skills, we made a decision: “We will never ever enter the Shabbat with a fight in the air,” we told each other. “Every single week on Friday afternoon, as we prepare for the Shabbat, we will sit in the bathtub, and thrash it out. And at one point we will just decided to “pull the plug”, literally and figuratively.”
We said it and we meant it.
We also made a promise to each other. As soon as we pull the plug, and we watch the water drain, we will both let go completely of any continued resentment, righteous indignation, anger, misery, heaviness of the heart, sulking and pouting. And then, when the water is gone, we will look into each other eyes, wink, and remember our vow of building a Mikdash Me’at.
And so we did.
Every week, by the time the water had drained, we had soaked for so long, the two people winking at each other looked like prunes!
One day, we overheard our four year old son answering the phone as we were in the tub. He said to the person on the line: “No! my Mom and Dad cannot come to the phone right now. They are in the tub. And they will be there for a long time”.
Our children are watching us.
So the big lesson we have learned about marriage is that, as Barbara de Angelis so wisely says: “Marriage is not a noun. It isn’t something you get. Marriage is a verb. It is something you do.”
And so for many years we “did” marriage. We learned to embrace three invisible connectors. We learned to sanctify the space between us. We learned to cross the bridge to each other’s worlds. We learned to re-pair each rupture with a true encounter. We learned and we learned. And after much, much, much “doingness,” forty-eight years later, we now have our Mikdash Me’at, our little sanctuary, our sacred place. And we practice Encounter-centered Transformation, just as we’ve taught so many couples and pairs of people in relationship to do over the decades.
In this 55th year, I feel like a new bride, incredibly happy with my life and my husband, and looking forward excitedly to the future!