The following is based on the introduction to my upcoming book, FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage.
Wading waist-deep down Missouri’s Fox River on a hot summer day, I learned to hunt for geodes. These semi-round sedimentary rocks, said to be 350 million years old, contain hidden crystals. The casual hiker sees rocks, but geode hunters notice their cauliflower-shaped exterior and envision gem-like interiors.
At the sweet, shallow spot of “The Fox,” abundant geodes range in size from a newborn’s fist to more than 100 pounds, discovered under the water and lying nearby in the grass, as if tossed there during an Easter egg hunt for us to find. We also found them lodged in the riverbanks with ten feet of earth pressing down on them—half circles poking out of the earthen wall, waiting for erosion to release them into the river.
Geodes’ sparkling interiors are generally white or clear, but some are colored, depending on mineral content. The product of a combination of water, natural chemicals, pressure, and heat, each porous geode is unique. There is no way to tell which will open to reveal a crystal treasure and which will reveal a solid mass or a greasy ball of sediment.
We’re a lot like geodes, and so are our marriages. Without exception, we feel pressure from all sides, which can at times feel like the weight of the world. There is no shortage of muck dredged up in our society and no way to prevent seepage of this sediment into our lives. Some people, like geodes, use stressful situations to help shape, improve, and crystallize themselves. Others crumble under the pressure, store the muck for someone else to discover, or become hardened masses—of no real value to others.
For my upcoming book, FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration For Your Marriage, I interviewed happily married couples across the country, some who have faced intense adversity—the kind that would pummel most marriages—yet became closer as a result. I tried to discover what made some marriages succeed despite hardship, while others wash away with the first storm. Successful couples don’t just “overcome” adversity; instead, they become changed by it and incorporate what they have learned into a more perfect union.
We’re all hunting for perfection—in ourselves, in others, and in our relationships. We won’t find it by looking at the outer shell. Just as there isn’t just one path for creating an ideal geode (volcanic geodes differ greatly in composition and form from Mexican “coconut” geodes, for example), there certainly isn’t one recipe for an extraordinary marriage, although there are some common ingredients. Since we have different needs and personalities, no magic technique will work for all marriages. Still, despite our range of challenges, we humans share similar fears, desires, and longings. So when some couples uncover what makes a marriage—even one fraught with major obstacles—work well, we want to hear their story, to draw our own conclusions and to add them to our own life experiences. Success stories are all around us if we listen.
At some point, all marriages will face intense pressure. Will the pressure change you? Undoubtedly. Will it break you apart? Maybe. It may also create something entirely new and better than expected, like the twin-chambered geode, a merger of two hollow geodes. Learning how others have handled crises can help you prepare for your own.
Lest we think true love is a one-in-a-million find, consider that each spring, countless geodes are released from the earth, a seemingly impossible product of millions of years of time and energy. Be open to the possibility that your hunt for perfection is over, that your marriage is perfect but unfinished, being honed by outside forces, in the same way that a child is a perfect but incomplete person—no less perfect because of he or she is in the early stages in life.
The couples profiled in this book are from different generations and walks of life, but they all became united in their difficulties. Those who faced multiple tests found their marriage became stronger with each one. Each couple found joy together, even amidst chaotic lives. These are not couples who merely “stuck it out”; theirs are great love stories whose commitment is not dependent on their circumstances. I hope they contribute to your own love story.
First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage will be available December 8th on Amazon.com. To learn more, go to www.LoriDLowe.com. The book’s Facebook page is www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss.
Photo by Lori Lowe