Friday, November 21, 2008

Marriage, Money and Mayhem

A crisis in most cases depends for its severity on your own perception. Some people lose a job and see it as a catastrophe, others might see it as an opportunity. I know a very wealthy man who owns and operates restaurants. I once asked him what he'd do if his (first) restaurant burned down. He said "I'd throw a party! It would give me the freedom to try something new."

The spreading financial crisis we are in today also offers multiple points of view. If you're heavy into stocks, it's pretty serious. If you are a financial crisis counselor, this is your moment. Within marriage, challenges can drive a sense of panic which can drive a couple apart. We forget to hug.

It's important to remember the formula for hysteria: two parts fear, one part anger plus a whole lot of projection (we like to think we know the future). We don't know as much as we think we know and, if you're addicted to media versions of life chances are your fear will be fed until your psyche is obese with it. Relationally, fear plus anger equals distance.

For a moment, turn away from the sources of information you rely on. Turn towards your partner and in the quietest possible way share your fears. Don't try, at that moment, to analyze them, and don't try to solve them. Simply share them with each other. When you're done, repeat this simple sentence to each other: "I do not know what anything (including this current situation) means. And I will not use my past experience to guide me now." (this is from The Course on Miracles and is a good meditative sentence)

Another good meditative sentence comes from the New Testament. I have taken the liberty to write the apostle Paul's words in my own language. Here it is: "There are no challenges confronting you but those that are common to men. God, however, is right here and able to help. He will not challenge you beyond your abilities but will, with the challenge, offer a pathway through that you may be able to succeed." (I Corinthians 10:13)

Money is a 'shape shifter' and can easily seduce us into feeling like we're orphans. When mayhem beckons, move towards each other. Embrace your love. Live in the present and remember 'you are not alone.'

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Holiday Parties

News item: Thursday, November 13, 2008 CNN

Large companies canceling their Christmas parties. Reason: the tanked economy.

I heard this and thought this: Why have Christmas parties anyway? Many of the employees interviewed were not disappointed at all. Most would prefer a gift of money in place of a lavish party.

Made me think about weddings. Average cost in the U.S. around $60,000. That's a pretty substantial party. But what benefit is it to the young couple starting out? Weddings have morphed from a fairly simply religious ceremony to expensive displays. There has been little evolution in thought or consideration of what a marrying couple needs most.

We think there are a few fundamentals missing. One is the idea of community. A wedding could be the occasion for inviting the various 'sub' communities of a couple (church/synagogue/town/extended family/work friends, etc) to give their gifts of wisdom, advice, stories - enabling the couple to begin with a sense of the deep respect and love of those around them. A wedding could express the generational wisdom, customs and stories of each partner's ancestors.

Weddings could also be an occasion for giving - not only gifts of money to the couple as they launch their life together - but giving to disadvantaged families. It could be an opportunity to express community by sharing the generosity of the celebration with one or two families who struggle.

We think weddings can be an individual and community turning point in which the celebration of new partnership draws the community into deeper commitment to one another, raises awareness of the needs of others and helps communities focus on its own possibilities for service, sharing and growth.

The lavish company Christmas parties being canceled right now might do well to re-evaluate their purpose and to use the opportunity to ask 'what is the most useful way to spend this energy, time and money for the good of all involved?'

For more on how to create a wedding that celebrates the heart, contact Stephen W. Frueh M.Div, PhD at 805 338 4286 or Stephen@WithTheseRings.com