Talks and Reflections by Brian Boobbyer

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Marriage is Sacred - Singleness Too

Brian and Juliet pictured after their engagement
(photo: Bob Fleming)

My wife, Juliet, and I were married in 1957. I had a fairly ascetic approach to life, with my feelings strongly under control. Falling in love was not for me. It seemed like a sign of weakness. But somehow it happened!

John Buchan, in his autobiography Memory-Hold-The-Door, wrote: 'I have been happy in many things but all my good fortune has been as dust compared with the blessing of an incomparable wife.' How much I echo that.

Charles Dickens wrote in David Copperfield: 'There can be no disparity in marriage like the unsuitability of mind and purpose.'

One of his characters says: 'It will be your duty to estimate your wife by the qualities she has, not by the qualities she may not have. The latter you must develop in her if you can. But, if you can't, you must accustom yourself to do without them.'

St John wrote: 'If you live in the light, as He is in the light, you have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.' (1 John 1:7) If you live in the light in marriage, love is all the time renewed. A sense of romance need never be lost.

Alcide de Gasperi, Prime Minister of Italy and one of the great leaders of post-war Europe wrote to his future wife, proposing marriage, in these words: 'The personality of the living Christ pulls me, enslaves me, comforts me, as though I were a child. Come, I want you to be with me, to be drawn to that same attraction, as though to an abyss of light.'

R L Stevenson wrote: 'Marriage is a field of battle not a bed of roses.' It is an obvious point, but easily missed, that marriage always has to be worked at. I would suggest that wooing is a lifelong part of it and not just the beginning!

Paul Tournier, Swiss psychologist and writer, wrote in his last book, The Listening Ear: 'I was always lecturing my wife but I never actually listened to her. I began listening to her when we meditated together.' Elsewhere he wrote: 'A marriage that is a real union is always a miracle.' And further: 'Men without women live in monasteries, barracks or slums.'

Agatha Christie, in her fascinating autobiography, wrote: 'My parents achieved a happy marriage. Up-to-date I have seen four completely successful marriages.'

Nicholas Zernov, Russian Orthodox priest and author, dedicated his classic, The Russian Religious Renaissance of the 20th Century, to 'my wife, supporter, critic and inspirer', and added in the text: 'I'm grateful to my wife for the joy of shared convictions which shaped this book.'

The joy of shared convictions. Marriage without it easily dries up.

Every marriage is uniquely personal.

Gandhi's grandson, Rajmohan Gandhi, in his outstanding biography of his grandfather writes that his vow of chastity, taken in South Africa in 1888, gave him a 'great sense of power, with limitless vistas of service'. This led, Rajmohan writes, 'to a widening of his horizon beyond race and country'.

Tolstoy, despite his own turbulent marriage, wrote this: 'The goal of our life should not be to find joy in marriage but to bring more life and truth into the world. We marry to assist each other in this task. The highest challenge is that of the man who has dedicated his life to serving God and doing good and unites with a woman to further that purpose.'

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