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We are for the most part failures at the thing we crave most-love and intimacy. If you’re married like I am, you are reminded of this fact almost daily. You find yourself locked daily in a battle with someone who reminds you that, despite all your education and savvy , you don’t have a clue about love and intimacy. Neither does the person who claims to love you. The constant, daily effort to be present, open, honest, transparent, defenseless before another stirs up the urge in all of us to withdraw and hide. Strange, the push and pull of intimacy, the wanting to be close but not that close, needing to be near but not so near, praying for companionship but not wanting constant company. It makes sense now why the Old Testament prophets used marriage as a metaphor to capture poetically the joys and struggles of the union between God and human beings.

Nevertheless, loving and being loved by someone enhances your life. As difficult as marriage is, I’m better for having risked throwing myself headlong in this cliff-hanger called marital union. It’s emotionally and spiritually bloody, bruising, often humiliating work, the way it calls upon you to negotiate, compromise, roll with the punches, climb and hold on by your fingernails, and build and rebuild from scratch a partnership that works for the two of you. Not even true love, if such a thing exists, can rescue you from yourself. But finding love and fighting to keep good love can open up wonderfully new vistas for anyone committed to a lifetime of personal growth and self-discovery.

How many times have you fallen in love? What were those experiences alike? What did each experience teach you about yourself and your ability to be intimate? How did each experience force you to grow and to open up? Recount at least one story of love.

–Renita Weems

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