The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

February 5, 2013

State Legislature cannot make marriages stronger

ENID, Okla. — With the 54th Oklahoma Legislature now in session, the men and women we have sent to Oklahoma City to represent us have plenty on their plate.

Among the 2,400 bills the state house and senate will consider this session involve firearms regulations, health care, workers’ compensation, texting and driving, voting rights and the use of remotely piloted aircraft for surveillance.

There’s even one that would call for a contest to name the state’s official “cowboy song.”

Our lawmakers even plan to tackle marriage.

On Tuesday, a Senate committee unanimously approved a bill that would give state couples the option to choose covenant marriages when they tie the knot in Oklahoma.

Covenant marriage agreements require counseling before a couple can be wed, and lessen the number of acceptable reasons for divorce.

Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, introduced the bill, saying marriages in Oklahoma must be made stronger and more thoughtful.

I agree, but I don’t think it is the government’s place to tell us marriage is a sacred bond, one not to be taken lightly.

Covenant marriages are currently available only in Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona.

To date, less than 5 percent of couples in those states have chosen to marry under a covenant agreement.

A piece of paper can’t make a good marriage. Good marriages come only when both partners put the other person first, and when neither one can even begin to imagine life without the other.

Love is a prerequisite, of course. Love, that is, not lust — though that’s a part of the equation as well, to be sure, but the latter without the former hardly is the formula for a lasting relationship.

Lust won’t hold your hand when you are sick, feed you when you are hungry, forgive you when you are wrong, lift you up when you fall, boost your spirits when the world tears you down, kick you a good swift kick in the butt when you need it, but love will.

Lust won’t feel your pain, dry your tears, sympathize, empathize or constructively criticize.

Lust is there on the good days, but generally goes AWOL on the bad.

A good marriage is one prolonged dance in which first one partner leads, then the other.

The music speeds up and slows down, ranging from lively reels to solemn dirges, but the steps of the committed couple are sure and light.

A good marriage is one in which neither partner takes themselves too seriously, in which both are prone to laugh at themselves and with their partners, never the other way around.

In a good marriage, the two partners don’t have to agree on everything, or anything, for that matter, except their commitment to one another.

They can agree to disagree on all the other stuff, like politics or athletic allegiances.

Getting married is not like joining a club, taking a job or finding a new church.

In those lesser endeavors, changing one’s mind is permissible, almost expected, in fact, but not in marriage.

Don’t be afraid of marriage, but don’t enter into it without a healthy fear of failing.

If you can’t imagine still being together 50 years from now, walk away, this isn’t the one. The same is true if you can imagine someday being divorced.

Don’t wed expecting married life to be perfect. It won’t be. Far from it, in fact.

Stuff happens, there will be tough times, you will hurt each other, and anger one another, and be childish, or churlish, or downright pig-headed toward one another.

Each partner will, at various times, be thoughtless, clueless and thick-headed, and each may finding themselves the same question, “Why did I ever marry him/her?”

But in good marriages, both partners always come back to the same answer — love.

In good marriages, neither partner raises a hand to the other except to caress a cheek, to fix a rumpled collar, to caress away a tear.

If you have a desire to beat your spouse, make sure you are talking about golf, Scrabble or bridge, and nothing else.

A marriage covenant law won’t make for stronger marriages, any more than obtaining a driver’s license makes you safe behind the wheel.

Love can’t be legislated, and thank God for that.

Our legislators should spend their time on more important topics, like that whole cowboy song controversy.

By the way, I vote for “Back In the Saddle Again.”

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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