The first casuality of the truth is the obvious

By Shawn van der Linden

“The first casuality of the truth is the obvious”

Someone mentioned this quote to me recently in the context of a discussion about the value of marriage for our society.   It struck a cord for me and got me thinking.

It is true that marriage is a fundamentally good thing for the world. Even a cursory glance at the research reveals this truth in an overwhelming manner. However, because marriage has been around for millennia it has that kind of “obviousness” which means it can be easily taken for granted.

When I was working in family therapy I would sometimes provide counselling to couples whose marriages where in crisis, or had sadly ended. In the vast majority of these situations a very similar experience was described.

While not in any way minimising the impact of major incidents of betrayal or abuse, which are sometimes a part of the experience, clients would almost always still talk about the incremental, slow and almost hidden way in which their marriages got into trouble.

It was the everyday decisions that seemed inconsequential at the time, forming a part of a steady trajectory of not protecting or nurturing the marriage relationship. Over years, this resulted in the relationship becoming starved of life or the resilience it needed to survive a major incident.

After 15 years of marriage I know it to be the greatest treasure in my life. However, I also know my own capacity to take my marriage for granted.

I am blessed with a wonderful relationship with Branka, and we get on well and enjoy each other’s company, however, I am aware that this can lead to a false sense of security.

While I am intentional about investing in having house insurance, car insurance and health insurance, how am I intentional about investing in insurance for my marriage? Recently I had a wonderful opportunity to be reminded about this in a very unique context.

This year Branka and I represented the Canberra and Goulburn Archdiocese at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September. While we were deeply honoured and delighted to participate, we realised that it meant being away from our four young children for two weeks. We wrestled with the emotional and practical requirements of this, and with lots of encouragement from family and friends we left them behind and joined with other families representing other Australian Catholic Diocese’ for a two-week pilgrimage, which culminated in a weekend with Pope Francis.

While we would have loved for our children to have had the pilgrimage experience with the other families, we also quickly realised the incredible gift we had with being on pilgrimage together, just as a couple, for two weeks. Suddenly in our crazy busy lives we had these two weeks where we were able to pray together, experience pilgrimage, see the Pope and just spend time reconnecting in our marriage.

What a unique gift at this stage of life for us. And what a powerful reminder about our need to find ways to keep this type of investment up in our day-to-day lives.

If you are interested in exploring some powerful ideas for how to go about doing this in your marriage then I would highly recommend the resource from the Marriage Resource Centre called “The Ambitious Couple”