As life passes and I become more and more married, I am coming to believe that two people ought to marry if they discover that they love the same things, carry the same burdens, and see the world in the same way. (Of course, I realize this is a simplistic vision and individual lives are far more detailed and involved than this, but I think the truth stands all the same.) And then, once marriage comes, the delight of the thing is that these loves and visions—already quite the same—become one and blossom and grow and deepen and strengthen. You also trust one another’s tastes and look to the other’s loves to form your own, so becoming one. I don’t mean tastes in clothes or cars, but the way they love other people, their love for beautiful things, their love for literature, or the way they see God and His world.
As I am discovering Madeleine L’Engle’s work, I find that she puts words to many of my thoughts. It sounds like she agrees with me—or perhaps, I learned this idea from her and from so many great writers that came before. In talking about her own marriage, she writes:
We have both, throughout the forty years of our marriage, continued to respond with excitement to the same beauty—for instance, to certain pieces of music. I remember driving up to Crosswicks one early spring day when we heard, over the car radio, the beautiful flute solo from Gluck’s Orfeo, and our response of delight was such that it has always been special music for us. On a cold and dank day we walked along a beach in southern Portugal, arm in arm, gazing with awe at the great eyes painted on the prows of the fishermen’s boats. One night we stood by the railing of a freighter and were dazzled by the glory of the Southern Cross against the blackness of an unpolluted sky. If this kind of simultaneous recognition of wonder diminishes, it is a sign of trouble. Thank God it has been a constant for us.
Love of music, of sunsets and sea; a liking for the same kind of people; political opinions that are not radically divergent; a similar stance as we look at the stars and think of the marvelous strangeness of the universe—these are what build a marriage. And it is never taken for granted.