I recently ran across Seth Adam Smith's post Marriage Isn't For You. Thinking that this was another of those worldly denouncements of all that is good in life I almost didn't read it. Well, I'm glad I did. Especially when I read a response article on another website. This other post sits on the edge of what I had feared the first to be. The author takes Seth's realization to an extreme and basically calls it detrimental to marriage.
So, what am I getting at with this post?
First, ideals are worth living for whether they are obtainable in this life or not. And I believe that the best ideals are more realistic and more obtainable than society gives them credit for being. Our society is losing the vision of living for ideals and the grace of allowing others to do the same.
Second, marriage is a thing of faith and work. No, you will not have all the answers before you get married, even if you wait until you're 99. And, no, you will not magically understand everything about marriage and families once you are married. You've got to move forward despite this lack of knowledge. It'll take work, hard work, but it'll be worth it.
Lastly, living for ideals in your marriage is not stupid or blind or any of those things that the world will tell you. Why can't family life be happy? Why can't couples never argue? Why can't each spouse place the other's concerns at the forefront of their lives? Why shouldn't spouses sacrifice to be at home more? Really, what is wrong with any of this? Just because it is hard, doesn't make it impossible. Just because too many families in the world are marred by sadness, abuse, contention, or selfishness, doesn't mean that the family you raise has to be. Happiness is a choice. All people can choose happiness or misery: life or captivity.
I cannot believe in any other way of living. If I don't have hopes, dreams, and ideals, then why would I work every day to be a better man than I was the day before? Why bother? Without vision, life isn't worth living.
So find a vision, however dim, of what you want your life to be like. Then never, never, give up on that vision. You may make mistakes along the way. It might be three steps forward and two steps back. You might be on top of the world one day and in the dumps the next. WHATEVER happens, always turn back towards your goal and try again. Because in the end you either make the effort or you don't. It's your choice.