“I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.”
— Mary Ann Shaffer
Probably the most global vision of happiness in adults is to be happily married—not that every adult is called to such visions of mutuality; some prefer to remain single.
But the struggle most people have is establishing themselves happily in marriage. There are always peculiarities of personality and priority that seem to threaten and ultimately despoil the romantic vision individuals in the marriage have initially of it.
Sooner or later, all marriages get grounded.
Beyond the conflict that mars many marriages, there is the essential component of connectedness that provides much happiness where it exists: 1) where there is sufficient quality conversation, and 2) where there is sufficient room of mutually comfortable silence between the two.
A communicative marriage is a mature relationship with every hope for survival, where partners may thrive individually and together.
What hope does a marriage have if it doesn’t have an outlet for one or both to share what they are thinking and feeling? Few marriages, I suspect, could be happy where silence speaks about the primary character of the marriage. Of course, there are possibilities of exception, but we can safely assume that people get married to live together, both harmoniously and mutually, through their communication.
If partners can be there for each other, by varying methods of conversation, where they may share their lives with the other, there is an outlet for the emotions—to the ends of hope.
Maybe it’s characteristically women who need such an outlet, but women also desperately seek for their men to be real before them—by conversing. The best conversational marriage is where both men and women are free to share what is really going on inside.
Allowing Space for Silence
If conversation is important, the importance of silence characterises the comfort level of the marriage. Where both partners can freely be together, both happy in their mutual silence, happy in their own thoughts and activities, much freedom for individual identity exists in the marriage. Marriage is a seedbed for individual creativity and expression just as much as it’s an exercise in mutuality.
Beyond love, it seems, is the test of comfortability—can we be comfortable in the silent spaces with this person we love? Can we rest happily in our aloneness? Can we be ourselves in this marriage?
A communicative marriage is the best of marriage. When we can freely talk with our partners as well as be happily comfortable in the silences, we enjoy mutual freedom and freedom of individual identity—the relational blessings of God.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.