The Dancing Puritan

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Someone to Talk To (Pt.2): Thoughts on Marriage

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A smile and a wave from his wife.  They were all Reagan needed.
Peter Robinson

"He has a new voice, a fresh look, a spring to his step and is doing old things new again."  That observation was recently made about a person that had been gripped by deep loneliness only to be blessed with a friend to talk with.

Having someone to talk to has a way of changing things.  A peanut butter sandwich at noon is suddenly transformed to a meal for the ages, simply by the presence of an engaging friend.

There are few things that portray more sadness than a person alone with only the walls to talk to. There is something counter to the very nature of what it means to be a human that is obvious in chronic aloneness.

There are certain places that are sacred because of years of shared experiences. Being alone in those places can be haunting.  A while back I stopped for the night at Daytona Beach, Florida on my way to a speaking engagement.  I was alone. There are few places that I have enjoyed more in my lifetime than Daytona. It was the vacation place of my family when I was a boy. It is a place that Lori and I have often taken our children. It is designed for the laughter of family with sand covering the feet of little ones. It seemed odd being at Daytona without my family. I was lonely. There was no one to turn to and say, "look at that dolphin."

Marriage is having someone to be with and talk to. All talking is not communication. Intimate communication (beyond the necessary utilitarian communication that is necessary to make life work) says, "I want to know you." And fearful as it may seem, it says, "I want you to know me." It speaks of things beyond the daily duties of life (grass to be mowed, clothes to be folded, diapers to be changed).  Regular duties are important and are opportunities to glorify God and to engage in delightful communication. However, I am speaking of something a bit different.  

At the heart of marriage is knowing. "To know" in Scripture means more than mere intellectual knowledge. It is the knowledge of intimacy. We get married so that we can know another person in a unique, reserved and intimate way. Marriage should be a joyful quest of discovery. To know, we must discover.  We get to discover the person we married. We discover that they are a person of dreams and opinions, strengths and weaknesses, through conversation that goes beyond utilitarian communication.

Having someone to talk to sometimes means more than using words.  

One of my favorite books on Ronald Reagan is How Ronald Reagan Changed by Life by Peter Robinson.  Robinson was a speechwriter for Reagan.  He recounts a day when President Reagan was giving a speech (that Robinson had drafted). The setting was the Rose Garden.  Robinson writes:

Although his performance was fluid enough, his pacing was off.  He seemed perfunctory and detached.  For once, I thought, Ronald Reagan was having a bad day.  Then a movement on the second floor of the residence caught his eye.  He glanced up.  Mrs. Reagan was standing at a window.  She smiled.  The President beamed.  She waved.  He waved--then had everyone in the Rose Garden turn around to wave, too. When he returned to his remarks, the President picked up his pace, appearing more involved and energetic. Even--well, younger. A smile and a wave from his wife.  They were all Reagan needed...She waved and smiled--and suddenly he was more alive.

The smile and wave of Mrs. Reagan was powerful communication that encouraged.  How could that non-verbal communication reach his heart and change his demeanor?  No doubt it was because Ronald had found in his wife Nancy, someone to talk to.