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.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Pre Marital Coaching and the issue of Contempt

Mark Goodyear has left a new comment on your post "Pre Marriage
> Coaching":
> This reminds me of John Gottman's Love Lab. John Medina, a scientist
> who worked with Gottman, told me that the number one predictor of
> marriage failure is contempt.When partners show contempt for each
> other, the marriage will fail 95% of the time. Or something like
> that.So here's the question. Can you teach people not to show contempt
> through pre-marital counseling?
> Moderate comments for this blog:
> http://www.blogger.com/moderate-comment.g?blogID=27202569
> Posted by Mark Goodyear to The Marriage Conversation Blog at 11:32 AM
"Some say the world will end in fire and some say in ice.." Contempt is ice. Also it may be petrified anger. I'm a coach and teach people to identify and transform deeply held wounds that manifest as calcified or petrified anger - in other words, contempt. The transformation usually comes out looking like passion - a deep discovery of their own right to love and be loved. It's a function of Grace.
So we don't teach people not to show contempt but instead we teach them how to transform their wounds (the roots of contempt) into their passion.
Pre marital counseling helps them identify where their own work is and where the potential booby traps in relationship are for them.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sweet breezes of August

Back in Hoboken where I was born, August was associated with humid and hot days. Fireplug days for kids. The ice man delivered ice to our apartment, a huge block of ice on his shoulder held by iron tongs. We'd ask for chips out at his wagon and grinning his missing teeth smile he'd oblige.

Around the corner a small Italian man made Italian ices and sold them out of his garage. One nickle. Fresh lemon, custard, strawberry, cherry, rootbeer - all made fresh. We ran around with shirts off playing kick the can on city streets, and listened for the melancholy howls of the rag man, the fruits and vegetable wagon, bell tinkling on a string across the front seat. My father was a milk man and as an occassional treat would bring home fresh choclate milk that we drank from the bottle.

Here is Southern California, August has surprised us with balmy weather, sweet breezes and cool nights. There are few children playing in the streets, parks or front lawns. We miss the sounds of the city, the vitality of community before television took away our neighborhoods and we miss the characters who delivered our milk, bread, vegetables, ice, coal and accepted our rags.

Marriage flourishes within community. In our time we have to create it. It will not happen through nostalgia, or indifference. How about making August a time to create a block party or a neighbors in the park day. You couldn't spend your time more fruitfully and you'll be changing the course of civilization.