Wednesday, July 4

writing {sacred}

A show of hands, dear readers!

Put your hand in the air if you've ever been a guest at a wedding.

Keep your hand up if you made an effort with your clothes and hair.

What about a gift? Yep, hands are still waving!

Indulge me a little further, and keep that hand up if you complimented the bride on her outfit, ooohed and aaaahed at the decor, kicked up your heels on the dance floor and perhaps dabbed a tear at the speeches.

You're doing well, aren't you? I should have invited you to MY wedding! 

{It was lovely, by the way. A relaxed beach affair on Jervis Bay in the spring of 2000. But I digress...}

Okay. One last question: since that wedding for which you frocked up so beautifully, have you actively encouraged the bride and groom to uphold the vows they made to one another?

Oh. All the hands went down {including mine}.

Maybe I didn't ask the question properly... what about this:

Even though we're really good at going to weddings and hobnobbing with our pals and Facebooking the whole catastrophe afterwards, how good are we at protecting and revering the promises that are made so publicly and earnestly?

And what's with that?

As it turns out, it's not cool to "interfere" with other people's marriages in 21st century Australia. No, interfering is wrong and dreadful and just so wrong. Did I say wrong? 

But blatantly gawking at and tweeting about a train wreck in progress is A-OK. It's even better if you can paw through a revolting women's magazine at the checkout, lapping up the ugly pap shots and grimy quotes from those extremely well-connected but suspiciously-unnamed 'sources'.

Anyone not living under a brilliant-cut-five-carat rock would know that Katie Holmes just got the ball rolling on yet another celebrity divorce. And, according to those magazines (and Twitter, and Facebook) we are all breathing a sigh of relief now that she's escaped from ... I don't know what, exactly. 

And neither do you.

So he's a nutty Scientologist. So she wants some cash to buy Suri's shoes. So so so so SO WHAT?!

We can't have it both ways. We can't come over all dewy-eyed at the marriage of people we actually know and who we actually care about, but then smugly gloat over the failed marriage of an eccentric actor and the naive (?) mother of his youngest child. 

One moment we're all appalled at whichever Kardashian it was that made a mockery of marriage by dissolving hers within five minutes ... yet now we're positively salivating that Tom Cruise got the comeuppance he so richly deserves and slapping each other on the back in celebration of Katie's blessed freedom.

Um, what?

We either respect the institution of marriage, or we don't. Tom and Katie's marriage is no less valuable than mine. They made their vows in the same way we did - before God and before witnesses.

I'm sure most will agree that the birth of a child anywhere in the world is a wondrous event. Even so, we know that many kids are tragically destined to live in poverty, sickness or persecution. So do we hang it on parents who have children in heartbreaking circumstances? Of course not! Because every child is a blessing. Every. Child. And we mourn every child lost. Why? Because we believe in the sanctity of life.

Well, that's how I feel about marriage. Many marriages are formed in less than ideal circumstances. I'm sure you can think of a few engaged couples who - in your opinion - don't stand a chance. I bet you know at least one married couple who are unlikely to still be together by Christmas. But do we mourn these marriages when they end? Why not? The fallout from a failed marriage - especially if children are involved - is enormous. But as a society, we just seem to expect it.  We even laugh about it and create internet pages to squeeze every last comedic drop from it. What is that about, people?!

I didn't enjoy Cocktail. I never watched a single episode of Dawson's Creek. I don't know if I cringed more at Tom's couch-jumping or at Suri's high heels.

But my opinions on those things are a nonsense. They're worthless. Even more so when you compare them to the tragedy of a woman feeling compelled to break a sacred vow while the world sits back and congratulates itself on predicting the inevitability of the whole thing.

So next time you frock up for a wedding, spare a thought for what you are about to witness. It's much prettier than a birthing suite, but in the cosmic scale of things, it's no less meaningful. Not every couple chooses to be married, but for those who do I believe we owe it to them to be their champions. 

We can't sit in their lounge room and offer couples counselling. Believe me, I've tried.

But if we believe marriage is sacred, then let's treat it as sacred.

"It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

An aside... Just in case it's not clear, this is not a "please fix up your broken marriage" post or a "everyone should be married" post or even a "marriage is a religious institution" post. It's especially not a "stay in an abusive or unfaithful marriage" post - please jump ship if that's you! This is simply a "can we please be more supportive of the concept of marriage for those who choose to enter into it" post.


  1. Hello, new to your blog and I really like it :)
    I just think the whole TomKat thing is boring capital B, really. But I agree on the marriage thing too.......i often despair about just how nasty/negative/yukky we have become as a society and how there is a massive big dose of "I don't give a rats about anyone but myself" going around. Sad, really. Anyway, hi and looking forward to reading more.

    1. TomKat is MOST definitely boring! I'm amazed at how it choked up my Twitter feed on the weekend and it's on every glossy at Woolies! Surely there's more interesting things to read about?! Thanks for your lovely comment though, and I'm so glad to have you around :)

  2. Love is... an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

    Just glad my wife is less imperfect than me ;)

    1. Quit with the PDAs Bren! You'll scare the kids! heh heh xx

    2. i'm so imperfect i don't even know what PDAs are. Sorry kids!

    3. Bahahaha I'll show you what a PDA is next time we're at Woolies.

      Or not.

      After all, the kids will probably be there!

  3. Melc _19113:11 PM

    Karen, I couldn't agree more. I'm actually a real romantic. I cry in weddings, both friends and celebrities. I love a good love story. And I am always really sad when the love story doesn't have a happy ending - no natter who it is. I think it's sad when people have negative thoughts towards others marriages. Should only have good wishes for people. And if I think it's not a great choice, I wish extra hard that they beat the odds! Celeb, weirdo or not he is still a human being. I feel sorry for celebs Who have to put up with paparazzi, tabloids and gloating when things go wrong. It's not very becoming Human behaviour. I enjoyed your rant! More of it ranty pants! Xx

    1. You're so right Mel! How hard is it to wish the best for people? It certainly feels better than being nasty. And thanks xx

  4. AlysJ3:28 PM

    You know, I of course have no idea about what has happened behind closed doors with Tom & Katie, but if it was a loveless, hopeless and possibly abusive relationship then I think ending it was probably the right thing to do. But it is, as you say, not a moment for glory or schadenfraude. It's a genuinely sad thing, a time to feel empathy for the family involved.

    And for those of us not living in the spotlight, us regular people, I think we have to stop focussing so much on the wedding, and shift to focussing on the marriage.

    For a ranty post, Karen, it's a thoughtful one.

    1. I absolutely agree with the whole focus on the marriage and not the wedding argument! Maybe we need a Bridezilla cap on spending??? Haha that would be FUN to legislate!

      As for the "loveless and hopeless" angle, I actually think that those things are possible to be worked through. Abusive is different, absolutely. But I included the Bonhoeffer quote at the end of the article on purpose. When the "love" supposedly dries up, it's the belief in the vows that is supposed to carry people through. I firmly believe (through experience) that love can be recaptured and renewed if both parties are willing to work at it. I'm a bit hopeless like that ;-)

  5. Anonymous3:44 PM

    I did a post on TomKat, but mainly from the Scientology point of view.

    Anyway! The thing that I find sad about marriage is the comments like "Well if it doesn't work out we'll just get divorced". My return response is usually, "Well why get married in the first place?"

    I'm a believer in marriage. It can a beautiful thing when both parties work just as hard as the other person. Having someone there who loves you just as much as you love them. I'm hoping my next marriage will be just that.

    My two cents :)

    1. Cannot agree more! If you don't believe that marriage is permanent then please don't bother with it! By all means have a party, declare your love for each other, but don't make promises you don't intend to keep.

      I look forward to seeing you married again, Cuppy. And I'm sure it'll be forever xx

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks :) I almost didn't publish this but it seems to be just what a few people wanted to hear!

  7. I have always struggled with everyone's unhealthy obsession with 'celebrity' in all it's guises - and even more so with the interest in celebrity marriages.
    The thing here is that people seem to take more interest in their downfall than their success.
    That to me is just so so sad.
    Surely we have absolutely NO idea about the truth of even our closest friends marriages - so why then do we feel we have free reign to make assumptions about the snippets we hear about the celebrity ones?
    And to be taking such joy in the demise of what was no doubt someone's dream of what we all hope for- to spend their days with a loving partner- just makes me feel uneasy.
    Sure....these people are easy targets. Add for many of us I guess it is not surprising ....but they are also human beings & mother & father to a young child who will no doubt be suffering now and I imagine for a lifetime because of this.
    The whole thing just makes me sad.
    As a society we have become judgmental & unkind & that in itself is the thing that worries me the most.

    1. Oh you're so right! Thank you so much for that thoughtful comment.

      You know, there's two ways to make yourself feel like you're "getting ahead". The first way is to work hard and reap the rewards. The other way is just to push others down and delude yourself that you're then better than they are.

      I know which way I plan to go. Thankfully there are so many people that are along for the ride and spend their time inspiring others to do the same!

  8. wotisunique10:37 PM

    Thanks for the thoughtful post - I didn't find it 'ranty' at all. I can't look at the weekly magazines - I find it challenging that people's lives are just fodder for others to talk over. Because the rest of us are so perfect!

    I had a similar conversation to your post with a good friend (M), who came to our wedding. She believed - strongly - that with attending our wedding came a duty to help us uphold our marriage vows. This idea surprised me at first, but as I thought about it, I took comfort in it, particularly over the years as we started to get beyond that 'honeymoon' phase. I have somewhere (else) to go, someone who will support me, but who isn't about taking sides, but is about supporting the "us".

    Last year a mutual friend separated from his wife - a sordid, sad story. M and I were talking about the sadness of it - I felt so heavy hearted. We talked about how much energy can be poured into an affair, or into 'finding yourself'. What if we put as much energy into our marriage?

    Powerful stuff. Thanks for the thinking.


    1. Your friend M sounds like a wise woman! It occurred to me when I was writing this that there's a reason people used to elope. It's because their family and/or community wouldn't agree to support their marriage. It might have been about money or religion or social class, but ultimately the couple knew they'd be having to rely on only themselves. It really says something when you agree to witness people exchange their vows. Nowadays, of course, people elope because they don't want the expense of a wedding - which kind of hints at how superficial many weddings have become!

      And I'm sorry to hear about your friend who was separated. You're so right, if only he'd put his energy into the one he had chosen first. Very sad.

  9. I agree with the crowd on this Karen, thanks for writing this. I certainly have been obsessed with gossip during parts of my life but gave it up when I realised that they're all people too and I don't need to clog my life with what may or may not be true about them.

    I certainly agree that we should be more considerate as a society on attempting to preserve the sanctity of marriage and give it, and all parties involved, the respect it deserves. I am even more passionate about expressing that in others and hopefully having that again myself one day after having to end a failed marriage once in my life. It is not fun, and gawking at others going through the same is appalling because I know how much heartache it creates.

    Marriage should be taken seriously, considered in a sombre and sober state and respected by the community. The marriage of two people should seen as a strengthening force in a community rather than an island, and if anything that is the biggest lesson that I have learnt from my first marriage.

    Thanks again, you are a very wise woman

    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your failed marriage. It sounds like a painful time indeed. And I completely agree with the sentiment that marriage is a strengthening force in the community. I quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer in my post, and his words were taken from a longer 'marriage sermon' that he wrote for his niece's wedding.

      He describes marriage as an Office: "In your love, you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man."

      Very sobering thoughts indeed.

      Thanks for your really thoughtful comment, I loved reading it.


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