How My Marriage Informed My Religion

“Love You”

This is how my wife and I end every phone conversation.  Well, except when one of us is in a business situation, and saying those intimate words would be inappropriate in our current surroundings.  But, at all other times, we end the phone conversation with call-and-response “Love You’s”.

This, we do no matter how we actually feel about each other at the time.  There was a time, early in our marriage, at a more immature age, when one or the other of us would withhold the declaration of love for some perceived wrong.  But, without really talking about it, we’ve come to an unspoken agreement that such withholding will never happen again.

In fact, the salutation itself has never been discussed.  It’s just something that we do.  After all, we never know if this is the last time we will speak to one another. 

Now, here’s an interesting thing: obviously, a lifetime of “Love You’s” is going to mean that a more than few of them are going to be uttered by rote; in fact, some might even be insincere, if they are said in the middle of an argument.  (As an aside, we haven’t had a REAL, yelling, sleep-on-the-couch, last for days argument in about 10 years.)

Now, to an outsider, it might seem silly to repeat words one doesn’t feel fully at the time they are uttered.  But, I’ve come to learn that saying the words touches us in a place below consciousness; our internal hard drives save a record in personal database, setting the “Do I Love Her?” field to “TRUE”.  It comes back to you later in the day, and you actually feel the words you said earlier.  This is hard to explain, but it is as real as it is weird.

Our minds, over time, almost imperceptibly, teach our hearts what to feel.

What does this have to do with religion?

Well, I’ve changed my mind about something.  Being raised Baptist, and now being a Methodist, I joined the chorus of those who criticised the Catholic and “High Church Protestant” way of saying prayers by rote.  My inner Jerry Falwell asked, “What good is it saying prayers you don’t feel fully in your heart?”

But once I learned the secret power of “Love You’s”, I discovered my error.  I understand a little better now.

Would I change to primarily praying mantras?  Nope.  A lifetime of conditioning is hard to break.  They have an important place, but I also think God wants to have personal conversations with us as well.  I don’t think my wife would enjoy my company if all I ever said to her was a chant of “Love You’s”.  But, mantras have a place, an important place.  And, let’s face it, many times in “our world”, the person praying is using the prayer to make a point, or putting on a show, or any number of things that are definitely NOT having a conversation with God.  We protestants have our own log in our eye.

It’s funny, many people think we are Catholic, since we send our kids to Catholic school, Catholic Charities is at the top of my giving (outside of church), and that I often cite the Catholic position on “life” as the most consistent view out there.

But, no, we’re not Catholic.  I guess you could call us Catholic sympathisers, though. 🙂 

But anyway, y’all go find someone you love and say “Love You”.  It has an amazing power.


5 Responses to “How My Marriage Informed My Religion”

  1. Busy Mom Says:

    We’ll give you a token Catholic Auxiliary sweatshirt or something.

  2. jagadiah Says:

    I don’t remember people back home ever saying love yous like they do in the south – here people tack it on all the time and to everyone. Spouses, kids, parents, grandparents, good friends, etc. It took me a long time to acclimate to the southern loving (including hugging – another thing you save for special occasions up north), but now I embrace it. My husband and I are also ‘love you, bye’ conversationalists, and even though it’s not always necessarily heartfelt, I know that the last words I said to him were “I love you” and there’s no small comfort in that.

  3. Kleinheider Says:

    This is quite an excellent post.

  4. Nashville is Talking » Spit Takes Says:

    […] How My Marriage Informed My Religion […]

  5. john h Says:

    These are wise words, Slarti. One of my favorite authors, the guy who wrote ‘blink’ and ‘the tipping point’ (too lazy to google right now) talks about how a smile really does change our focus and sense of well-being..that the smile often comes before the humor. this post reminds me of that..

    Perhaps if I listened and followed your example, I wouldn’t have had the last big-time argument with Lynn somewhat less than 10 years ago!

    kudos for this.

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