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Articles from November 2009

November 30, 2009

An Unexpected Lesson in Making Love Last

My preschooler nephew provided an unexpected reminder on Thanksgiving of how to make love last. After dinner, he helped decorate the Christmas tree, then announced we should all gather around it to sing, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

He grabbed me and said, "Aunt Patty, let's get the books!" I was surprised anyone keeps a set of Christmas carol song books in their home, but I followed him. He began pulling not song books but finance texts off the shelf and handing them to me, one for each of the Thanksgiving guests, the rest of whom ranged in age from 39 to 82.

It took me a moment to realize that, seen through the eyes of a non-reader, the subject of the books was irrelevant to the holiday experience. Carolers hold books open while they sing, and we could, too. If I knew the books held something other than the words to songs we all knew, my knowledge was irrelevant. Sharing it right now would be mean.

Everyone else caught on quickly and opened a book while my brother-in-law captured all of us on video, singing around the Christmas tree, looking just like his son expected we ought to look. And you know what? It was a lot more fun with the props, once we turned off our own stories about what qualifies as a song book or how you ought to use one.

Sometimes we forget that all of us see the world through our own abilities and mental images. When asked to participate in any meaningful activity, we would do well to try to see what we're asked to do through the eyes of the person asking, and turn off our knee-jerk criticisms to focus on what's truly important.

Have you ever caught yourself just before sharing irrelevant information that might ruin an important moment with your spouse or child? I would love to hear your story.

November 3, 2009

Free Church Wedding

If you're engaged and waiting until you can afford a wedding, take this idea to the prettiest church you know. In today's news, beautiful Espoo Cathedral, in Finland, has scheduled Friday night of the Valentine's Day weekend as a "wedding night." They will open the church to perform up to 100 weddings at no charge.

Anyone with the Finnish equivalent of our marriage license can invite guests and show up to be married. They can book a time in advance or wait their turn. The weddings continue from 7 pm until 4 am.

Espoo got the idea from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Lawrence in Vantaa, who first did this last September. They wanted to encourage cohabiting couples to get married.

I have known many couples here in the U.S. who have slid into a life partnership and put off the work of planning a wedding or who have accidentally added a child to their relationship and found it impossible to afford the wedding they had hoped for.

I think there is a lot to be said for a formal ceremony and celebration of your commitment to each other (and to any kids you've created together). So, print this page and take it to the most elevating church, temple, or wedding hall in your area and suggest a local wedding night.

Then, because this is the U.S., see if you can't find a local bridal store or thrift shop with weddings gowns to loan those who want them, and a dry cleaner to get them back in shape for resale at the thrift shop, and a wholesale florist with bunches of cut flowers people can make into their own bouquets and return for others to use after them. Find a couple chamber music groups or folk guitarists to donate their services.

There must be so many more groups that could help support such an effort and perhaps benefit from the publicity surrounding the event. Who could entertain the kids while they wait to watch their parents walk down the aisle? What could be donated to help these couples remember their special evening? And what can we do to help these couples keep their commitments to each other after the wedding? Please post your ideas in the Comments section. I know I have some very creative readers.

Thanks to Diane Sollee of Smart Marriages for the heads-up on what's happening in Finland.

The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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