February 7, 2010

"I don't see you any longer as ... my Magical Other to rescue me from the challenges of life..."

Interesting... and it's not about Barack Obama.

31 comments:

Robin said...

Since he's a priest, he may have forgotten or never known or overlooked what most people who have dated and been married know: In the process of finding a mate, people hide, justify, excuse and present their faults in as positive a light as possible. Hence the lament.

Meade said...

"In the process... people hide, justify, excuse..."

Oh, so it is about Barack Obama!

Deirdre Mundy said...

As a priest, he's probably also looking at the lament from a sacramental perspective-- it doesn't MATTER if you're not the person I thought I married, we're still married.

Also, since it was a secular publication, he didn't finish up where he would if he was giving this (pretty common) homily in a church--- no other human can fill that hole, because it's so big it can only be filled by the divine.

Believe me, priests know that people tend to lie and misrepresent themselves to each other-- they even try to warn dating couples about this--

ricpic said...

I don't buy it that after years of daily contact a wife doesn't know her husband or a husband his wife better than they would a stranger. Can ones guard be kept up for years? Possibly. But over the course of those years there will be a crisis or crises and how those are handled or weathered has to reveal a great deal about a spouse.

Flexo said...
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Flexo said...

Since he's a priest, he certainly knows about human beings in their fallen state, and in their proprensity to do things like "hide, justify, excuse and present their faults in as positive a light as possible." Indeed, that is what human beings do all the time in their relationship with that Other who seeks our love.

What is disappointing in this is, since he's a priest, that he makes no attempt to explain such things in reference to that Other, i.e. God, or to explain things such as marriage in terms of theology, including the truth of the fundamental nature of "man," male and female. Father would do well to read some Theology of the Body.

As it is, he leaves the impression that, as individuals, we are self-actualizing, self-fulfilling, complete unto ourselves. And that is one of the great lies that the modern world has imposed upon us.

edutcher said...

Have you and Ann had your first fight? :-0

Freeman Hunt said...

See, why not get married right off? Spend a bunch of time engaged for what? You still don't know the person.

Freeman Hunt said...

And really, this is good in general. How boring it would be if you knew every little thing about your spouse's mind, his every thought, nothing new to find out ever. Blah.

As long as you're both committed to your commitment 100%, discovering more and more about each other should be a fascinating joy.

Unless, I suppose, it turns out that your spouse is a cretin.

Flexo said...

Father Guntzelman also tends to leave the impression that marriage is merely something you do, rather than something you are.

The idea of the other in marriage as a "partner" sounds reasonable and attractive, but it is an erroneous conception of marriage, at least as far as a Catholic priest should be concerned.

Marriage is not merely something you do, it is a state of being. And the two models par excellence of marriage, from the Catholic perspective, are: (a) the Bridegroom Jesus Christ and His Bride the Church; and (b) the Holy Trinity. In each case, both of which are mirrors of marriage, what you have is NOT a partnership. Christ and the Church are not partners; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not partners. Rather, they are a loving communion of persons in one nature and essence. They are a relation of persons that is both unitive (communion) and fruitful (procreative).

So it is with human marriage -- not a partnership, but a loving communion of persons, two become one.

Father Guntzelman makes some good points otherwise, but his characterization of marriage near the end does not help the cause. And, as a Catholic priest, he should be making that clear. He is not some mere secular marriage counsellor after all.

rhhardin said...

You know a person when that person thinks you do.

Big Mike said...

@Meade, the lady of the house is dropping hints. Pictures of flowers. Link to articles like this one. More pictures of flowers.

Get to a florist. Fast. Buy the biggest bouquet they have. Doesn't matter what you think you did or didn't did, just get over there.

Meade said...

Big Mike: thanks for the well-meaning advice but believe me, for my Magical Other, a big flower bouquet will never do the trick.

I'm thinking something more like a puppy. Or two season tickets to Badger football. Or a new gas grill.

Or... maybe I'll just get her new Sharpie for writing reminder words on the palm of her hand.

Synova said...

Do secular marriage counselors talk about separateness and appreciating that this other person is a whole other person?

Maybe they do.

But our secular and religious culture, both, mystifies the relationship, never questions that "true love" is supposed to make you "happy" or "whole" or "fulfilled." The other person is supposed to meet your "emotional needs" and if you're in love you don't have to *be* faithful, because faithfulness will be effortless.

The idea that God made you one true partner, someone *meant* for you, isn't much different from the secular silliness about love being some special and unique state that can only be real when you find your one true soul mate.

Why put all those old phrases in the marriage vows at all? Faithfulness in the face of hardship and discomfort, for better or *worse*, richer or *poorer*, *sickness* or health. Because true love fixes all of those problems and true love must be obeyed and if you screw up and marry the wrong person then you just need to make a better choice.

Next time.

traditionalguy said...

That article is the best thing I have read about marrital relationships in a long time. It is from a mature adult point of view and full of hope. @ Meade: does the Professor write the date on all the leftovers she puts into the Refrigerator? In my wife that always seemed to me to be overdoing the planning of life...but I have learned to love order and planning coming from such a lovely source.

Joe said...

Father Lou Guntzelman is an idiot and the poster child for why celibate priests are a fucking joke when it comes to marriage counseling. His original question is valid, but surprisingly fails to even contemplate that people change!

His entire thesis is, in fact, a fantasy about what marriage is as seen from an outsider who has no clue. It's pretty apparent he also has no close friends from which to extrapolate. The man is a lonely, pathetic loser. Why the hell is he a priest? (And pity on everyone he counsels.)

Flexo said...

OK, so you are a contemptible, pathetic anti-Catholic bigot, Joe. But do you have anything substantive or positive to offer?

Synova said...

And "people change" is a valid excuse, how?

Big Mike said...

... but surprisingly fails to even contemplate that people change!

A bit of wisdom: men marry women imagining that they will never change but women marry men in the fervent hope that they will.

Big Mike said...
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amba said...

ricpic said: "I don't buy it that after years of daily contact a wife doesn't know her husband or a husband his wife better than they would a stranger."

I don't think he's talking about that, he's talking about the point when infatuation wears thin, somewhere between 1 and 7 years in, and you start seeing that this person is not your dream partner "magical other" after all (odds are, no real person is that; it's one reason some are addicted to unrequited love--you can keep believing).

A lot of American marriages don't survive that transition.

I was thinking recently that a (or even the) main purpose of marriage is to see the other person as they really are, in depth -- a little bit like God would. So when the "magical other" projection ends, that's just the beginning.

traditionalguy said...

Amba...That was beautiful and all true.

amba said...

thank you, TG.

Meade said...

Ditto tradguy. Wise words, amba.

amba said...

Hola, Meade.

Joe said...

And "people change" is a valid excuse, how?

It's not an excuse it simply is.

We all change. Most spouses adjust to the changes. Some changes are so drastic a spouse finds they cannot accept that change.

For example, what if one spouse is converted to, or away, from a religion? What if one spouse finds they really hate their career? Or a couple planned on having a large family and one spouse found they didn't handle children as well as they thought they would?

One common change I see is after having a child, the woman realizes that she wants to concentrate on raising that child and gives up her career or at least a career centric life.

ken in sc said...

I think this is right on target. I have been married three times. The first two times I was in love. However, I later came to learn that I was in love with an imaginary person, one I had dreamed up in my head. I had assigned the name and face of a real person to my imaginary lover. Also, it seemed that they had done something similar. My current marriage of over 20 years, and still going smooth, was not based on being in love. I made a conscious decision to choose someone who shared my goals and values—and some tastes and interests. She did the same. It was a form of arranged marriage except we did the arranging. We are very happy about our marriage. We love each other. However, respect is more important than love in a marriage.

Freeman Hunt said...

For example, what if one spouse is converted to, or away, from a religion? What if one spouse finds they really hate their career? Or a couple planned on having a large family and one spouse found they didn't handle children as well as they thought they would?

One common change I see is after having a child, the woman realizes that she wants to concentrate on raising that child and gives up her career or at least a career centric life.


These all seem like somewhat common things that your typical marriage should be able to weather. Also, none of those things involve betrayal or danger to the family, so I don't see why anyone would get divorced over them. (I suppose some do.)

peter hoh said...

The ideas in the linked column remind me of Harville Hendrix's book, Getting the Love You Want.

Maguro said...

How does this this guy find the time to dispense maital advice and run The Moderate Voice at the same time? What a renaissance man.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

"No two people have ever met." -- Byron Katie