by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel
As we ride our bicycles over the road
She points and says, “Bittersweet.”
“What? I can’t hear you.”
She points again.
I look and see the beauty of Bittersweet;
I feel the peace its beauty brings.
Bittersweet, I am struck by the taste of her words.
They do not make sense,
But they explain our life together
And point out the road to peace.
Bitter, lights left on,
Counter covered with things not put away,
Laundry not folded,
Tired, forgetful, and more.
Sweet, her love, smile, laughter,
Touch, caring, beauty.
Bittersweet, but I hardly taste the bitter
She is so sweet.
Life is Bittersweet
Thank God for you, Honey,
I hope you flavor my life forever.
What is a good marriage? There is evidence from respected studies that show longer, healthier lives resulting from good marriages. The keyword, of course, is good. Does that mean perfect—no. People can only strive to be better communicators, able to engage in a loving, respectful give-and-take with a spouse, listening and most importantly, not putting conditions on your love for one another.
Each of us is responsible for improving our own ability to express love and support for our spouse. A marriage can start on a path to becoming stronger if one partner looks within and finds her/his authentic self and then confidently reaches out with love to the other partner. Marriage is about the relationship and not the individual’s desires. As my wife says, “Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” and “Never argue with a woman when she is tired…or rested.” So accept criticism as polishing your mirror and keep your sense of humor.
In my book, 101 Exercises for the Soul, I describe workouts like Team Spirit: Create your team and participate in the World Series of Life; Emotional: Dealing with stress—survivor behavior; and The Obstacle Course of Life: There are no mistakes. In the Final Exam for successfully completely all of the exercises in the book, I cover a series of symptoms that might also help you evaluate how you are experiencing your marriage—here are just a few:
- An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment
- A loss of interest in conflict
- A loss of the ability to worry
- Frequent attacks of smiling
- An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it
These are also the symptoms for the inner peace which is the goal for 101 Exercises for the Soul. I believe that a good marriage is one that ultimately provides both partners, as well as the family they may build together, with a sense of inner peace that transcends Life’s difficulties. I am blessed with such a marriage, and I encourage you to celebrate if you, too, are so blessed. If your goal is to share in such a marriage, please resolve to use all the resources available to you—as another of the 101 Exercises for the Soul tells you, Be an Activist: Get involved—do it now!