Sunday, August 26, 2007

Marriage: Labor of Love

Marriage: Labor of Love

Labor Day is a time to honor those who labor and are not necessarily compensated accordingly. It is a time for gratitude and a calling as well, to consider that labor, the kind that makes this large industrial machine work, is often the burden of the faceless and the powerless. The blood and sweat of our fathers and uncles who stepped off a boat or an airplane, who crossed a river at night – not as terrorists or thieves – but simply as hopefuls, longed for a life in which their labor could support their families, provide education even perhaps reliable health care.

Labor Day honors the struggle of men and women for fair treatment, for their right to representation in the huge and powerful money exchanges of industry. Labor Day throws a light on injustice, exploitation, discrimination and the self righteous attitudes of those who feel entitled. It means we are invited to pause in appreciation for the work days invested in building bridges, buildings, roads, dams – in short, the infrastructure we take for granted. The men and women who so labor have families, dreams, visions of a better life every bit as much as the ‘leveraged’ many who have assumed they deserve a pathway to abundance.

In marriage it may be as simple as honoring work for which there is no pay, gratitude for the simple barely noticed attentiveness that keeps children healthy or safe or learning. The With These Rings model of marriage teaches a paradigm that supports partnership. It notices that love is conscious appreciation for the subtle gifts – tenderness, vigilance, and the giving of time.

The old paradigm was patriarchal. It fostered a hierarchy of valuing which could easily distort into valuing metrics only. “Time is money.” “The cash value of an idea.” “Status is what we work for,” – all of these easily translating into under- appreciating those who cared for and fostered healthy family life.

Partnership within families honors the individual gifts of each and all family members. Partnership looks for the creation of a new language in which men and women can talk about shared vision, common aspirations, the beauty of conflict and the labor of love. Love is a lot of things, but we must notice that labor is involved. We ‘work’ at being consciously loving of our partners, and that means that we decide to look at our own attitudes towards the non or not so powerful, the work of the one who doesn’t directly produce income, the gifts of those who contribute heart knowledge.

We work too at manifesting our own love, to leave our narcissistic self involvement behind and instead measure our lives by the impact our loving makes in the lives of those we say we love. Being a grown up is not an easy path. Money may make it easier but also it may obscure the pathway to true and effective partnering between men and women, parents and children and of course, leaders and those they lead.

So I invite you to expand your vision of this Labor Day weekend as I invite you to reconsider the power bases within your family. True partnership honors justice, equality, and freedom. It is a gift we only realize through the conscious application of our labor.

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