This story is dedicated to my children
Ray, Eric, Alanna, Jamie and Tammy
This is built on insights that have greatly added to our happiness
Chapter 1. The Excitement and Problem
Once there was an excited couple named Maria and John, very much in love, very much looking forward to their life together. But marriage?
There was a cloud hanging over them, holding them back. They knew so many people who seemed to fall in love and a few years later fall out of love. This led them to be concerned, even fearful of marriage. They wanted their love to last a lifetime and beyond.
They were looking for a model to imitate their success secret, a couple whose love lasted a lifetime. They were looking for a couple who had been together for years and who were still excited about their love and being together.
They did find some couples who had been together for a long time, but few seemed to be excited about still being together. The very few times they found a couple still excited about being together after many years, the couple didn’t know what their success secret was; or, if they did, they didn’t feel comfortable sharing it.
Since so many marriages end in divorce, Maria and John began discussing maybe just living together was the safest path.
Then they saw a picture in the paper of this couple that celebrated their fiftieth anniversary who were known as “The Young Couple” because those who knew them said they seemed like newlyweds, still excited to be growing their love. The article talked of The Secret of the Crystal Marriage that helped them continue to grow their love like a young couple. They were still very much in love.
Maria and John immediately made an appointment to visit “The Young Couple,” hoping to discover the Secret of the Crystal Marriage.
When Maria and John arrived at Will and Carry’s home, they were impressed; it was small, simple, and very neat. Certainly a huge checking account was not The Secret of the Crystal Marriage. After John and Maria were comfortably seated around the warm fireplace, they explained their challenge.
Maria then added, “We understand at your fiftieth anniversary you were celebrated as ‘The Young Couple.’ People say you act like a young couple because you used The Secret of the Crystal Marriage to make your love last so long. We would appreciate your sharing this Secret of the Crystal Marriage so when we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary we are still very much in love.”
Will answered, “Carry and I would be glad to share with you our secret, actually our four-part secret.
However, if you want us to help you live it, you need to understand what we went through to discover it and make it work. It will take you to places many people are not willing to go these days.
“Are you willing to look at the big picture – not just our successes, but our struggles? Are you willing to withhold judgment till you hear our whole story and why our four-part secret works so well for us?”
Maria and John looked a little mystified. Maria spoke, “We really are much in love and want to stay this way for a lifetime. If you and Carry are willing to share your whole story – yes, the big picture, struggles and successes – John and I will be honored to listen and seriously consider using it. John, I think I speak for both of us, right?
John said with some enthusiasm, “Absolutely. If it’s okay with you both, let’s get started.
Chapter 2. The First Mistake – Searching for the Wrong Thing
Will began with authority. “John, I like your ‘absolutely,’ because with the love of a lifetime and beyond, the only way to be is absolute. Let me begin by being equally ‘absolute.’ The first thing to absolutely change is what you are seeking. I hear you want – seek – to be in love for a lifetime.
“To be in love sounds like it is a status quo. You get there and you got it. That is a huge mistake many, many people make. Love is a dynamic process. Carry and I discovered early in our search for The Secret of the Crystal Marriage that it will make all the difference in the world if you seek to discover a method to ‘grow in love daily’ – dynamic – vs. being and staying in love – static.
“Grow in love daily! Daily?” John repeated. “Is that a lot to ask? Is that possible?”
Will again was very positive, “With the tools of the Crystal Marriage, it is! And I think we are proof. The Crystal Marriage is like all crystal. Think of a glass vase and a crystal vase. Both hold water and flowers. But the crystal vase is clearer and more radiant than the glass vase.”
He turned to his wife, “Carry, would you tell them how we met and began to discover the Secret of the Crystal Marriage?”
Carry began immediately showing she was delighted to share their story.
Chapter 3. The Second Mistake – Love is just a Feeling?
“We met our second year in college. Will majored in theology and I majored in psychology. When we fell in love, we faced and discussed many of the same problems you are facing. It was challenging, but terrific. The second semester of our junior year we decided to do a Semester-at-Sea together. In early February, we left Vancouver, British Columbia to return to Florida in May after circling the globe.
“In late-February in Tokyo, Will proposed.”
Will jumped in with a smiling complaint, “And it took her till Sydney, Australia to say yes.”
Carry was quick to fire back. “Like I said, we had many of the same questions you had. I wanted to be sure. I finally learned ‘you are never totally sure.’ However, with thought and prayer, by Sydney I was willing to trust our love, our knowledge of each other; and with God’s help we could figure it out.”
Will continued, “Between Toyko and Sydney, Carry and I pondered the problem you understand so well, ‘how do we make love last?’ We agreed that we would use Carry’s degree in Psychology to define love and search for what we could do to make it last.”
Carry continued, “By Rome we agreed we would get married right after graduation. Immediately we started working on how to make love last. First we needed a good operational definition of love, a huge order because there were so many ways to look at love. My senior thesis – done with much of Will’s help was: ‘What is love? What it is not, and how to make it last.’”
“With the multitude of ways to look at and define love, we lucked out. That ‘How to make it last’ became our guiding light. How does love begin and what can you do to build it daily? John, your question is as brilliant as it is huge; is it possible to consciously grow love daily? Here is what we discovered and – with some difficulty – has worked for us most of these fifty plus years. I say ‘most’ because as we’ll share with you in a minute, we did have a year or so when the Crystal seemed to be tarnished.
“When you are in love, you have many feelings. Most of which are very good. But love has to be more than a feeling because feelings come and go. If you see love as just a feeling, it becomes almost impossible – if not impossible – to answer our guiding light, ‘How to make love last?”
“Love starts when you know someone and begin to appreciate and value that person. We realized this appreciating and valuing can happen on many levels: their beauty, their wit, the things they do, the way they make you feel. It is endless, which is important as you will see in a minute.
“Then love goes in two ways at once, agape and eros as the Greeks call it. Agape means you want to do good for that person, just because you love them, i.e. appreciate and value them in a special way.
“The eros means you want to be with the one you love especially because you value and appreciate them so much. Some people think that agape is the true love, the eros is weakness. But as Pope Benefit XVI clarified, agape without eros, love would not be full. And Carry and I were looking – as you are – for the fullest most fulfilling love possible.”
Chapter 4. Mistake Three – Growing Love Daily Is Too Much To Ask?
John was feeling comfortable because the “The Young Couple” understood their problem. Will even said his question was brilliant. And he appreciated both their honest sharing and insight, but was thinking, ‘How can this help Maria and me?’ Maria put his anxiety into words, “This is very interesting, but how can we use this daily to grow our love so in fifty years we will be The Young Couple you are and we want to be?”
Will again said, “Another brilliant question. Shortly after Christmas – with our wedding within six months – Carry and I went skiing. Time was running out. Maria, we were asking almost the exact question you just asked, how can we use our definition of love to grow our love daily? On the way to the ski hill I ask Carry this exact question: “We’ve had a workable definition of love for months now. But how can we use our definition of love to help us grow love daily? ‘What do you know from your psychology training that could guide and grow a behavior or attitude in a simple, easily and permanent way?
Will continued with obvious disappointment. “All I got from Carry was, ‘That’s a great question!’”
“It was a perfect day for skiing. But the ride home was the best. Carry said, ‘I think I have the answer to your question, ‘what’s a simple, easy way to change and grow a behavior or attitude daily?’
I immediately said with some excitement, “Carry, can you explain?”
Carry jumped in. “On the last run of the day – in some mysterious way – Will’s question reminded me of the Empowering Secret that Ford, Edison and Dell all used to make their great breakthrough.
Edison used it to invent the light bulb. Dell used it to start a billion dollar industry from his college dorm room.
“Ford’s an excellent example. His question went from ‘how to make a luxurious auto’ to ‘how to make a car that even my own workers can buy.’ Guided by this simple, even easy to ask question, he put in the assembly line. In answering this simple question he lowered the price of a car by 65% and made the car so popular that even his workers could buy one. Because of that simple question, buying a car went from costing his workers almost two years pay – making it impossible for workers to buy – to just two months’ pay. The auto industry exploded.
“The Empowering Secret is ‘Ask the right questions at the right time.’ What questions can we ask and what is the right time so we can grow our love daily?”
Will continued. “After several more weeks of pondering and simplifying we came up with, since love begins by knowing and appreciating the other, we agreed to ask: ‘How can I value and appreciate my spouse more today?’
“And in order to make it simple, we agreed to focus on just one question a day. This became our Monday and Thursday question.
“Moving to the agape which means doing good for the other just because you love, value and appreciate them so much, we agreed to ask, ‘How can I please and surprise my spouse today?’ This became our Tuesday and Friday question.
“Finally with the eros, which means wanting to be close to the other because they are so wonderful, we decide to ask, ‘How can I be closer to my spouse today?’ This rounded out the week with Wednesday and Saturday.
Both John and Maria took notes and pondered the simplicity of the daily question. Then John asked, “A bit ago you said The Secret of the Crystal Marriage was four-fold. What is the part we are missing?”
Carry – now playing the psychologist – answered, “After a couple years we realized that each of these questions depends on the individual guestimating what would please or delight the other. So we added a Sunday question that gave the other person the opportunity to answer for themselves.
“Eventually at Sunday supper we added, ‘What can I do for you next week so you become even more satisfied?”
Carry continued with a huge smile, “This helped me get Will to do something that annoyed me. Several weeks in a row I would answer Will, ‘would you please remember to unlock all the car doors when you get out?’”
Will took the high road, “At times, the answer to this question is very positive and insightful, like ‘I love the way you sign our Christmas Card, ‘Love, forever and ever and then some.’ This seemed to me Carry was saying she loves me so much, part of her joy was seeing us together even in the next life. Partners need a way to share not only what they need from each other. They also need a way to share what they like from or about each other so the others does not change.”
“Wow!” John said with surprise, seeing the light, “In just these four simple questions you promoted and grew you’re three-part love daily and provided a way to ask for what you needed from the partner. What a great very simple total solution!”
“Promoted, yes! And grew our love, yes!” Will replied. “A total solved, no!”
Chapter 5. Mistake Four: The Part We Overlooked
Will continued. “This worked very well for the first eight or nine years of our marriage as we grew closer and closer with excitement. As our tenth year began, it seemed some of the old brilliance of the Crystal Marriage was fading. The Crystal began to tarnish.
Carry followed with. “We both began to feel something was missing. It saddened us.
“When we received the invitation to our tenth reunion of our alma mater, we decided to go back. Maybe we could find something we’ve lost.
“Meeting old friends and a few favorite professors was great. But it was the invitation to Will’s Theology Department reunion event where everything changed. Most of the departments had a special event and Will’s Theology Event was built around a presentation, ‘The God We Overlooked – Perichoresis’
“The first part of the title attracted us. The second part, this Perichoresis – we did not recall ever hearing that – was more than a bit mysterious. Will, since this is your field, I think you can explain this most simply!”
Will paused a bit to collect his thoughts; then continued slowly. “My favorite professor first reminded us – especially me – of some of my impressions of God – especially of God the Father:
A wise old man who, when we sin, gets angry. I didn’t picture that Wise Old Man as the lover of fun and games – especially dancing.
“The professor first pointed out that my sins don’t change God. God still loves us/me weather we sin or not. When we sin, we are the ones that back away from God, like Adam and Eve hiding from God after they sinned. God still loved them and came looking for them.
“Then, using the same definition of love Carry and I built our questions on, he asked: If you have an infinite being like the Father knowing two other infinite beings like his Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t it be reasonable that there was great joy when He loved each one? Couldn’t you say the same for the infinite Jesus knowing and wanting to please His infinite Father that he lovingly calls Abba or Daddy?
“Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect more than great joy, maybe even infinite joy when the Holy Spirit loves both Jesus and the Father? Beyond great joy to infinite joy.
“And wouldn’t it be reasonable that the joy was so great and lasting that it called for an infinite Divine Dance? Then the professor stopped and let this idea of the infinite divine dance sink in.
“He continue, ‘If you want more about it look up Perichoresis – many interpreted as The Divine Dance. I titled this event as – The God We Overlooked – because this Perichoresis or indwelling comes from the Fathers of the Church starting about 300 AD. This is not something new or radical. It is just something we have overlooked for so long.
“’But for us the best is yet to come when you go to Jesus’ prayer to his Father in the last supper. He said of us, ‘…that the love with which you (Abba) love me may be in them and I in them. Jn 17; 26.’
“’This deserves time to ponder. This infinite Jesus – and integral part of the Divine Dance – wants all the love he received from his Father (Abba) to be in us and He be in us.’ What more could he give or we ask for?
“Then my old professor ended his talk with these his exact words ‘If we are created in the image and likeness of God, we need to get dancing – we need to get celebrating – we need to join the Divine Dance.’ Then Will paused.
The silence gave Maria and John time to ponder Will’s three exciting points:
– The Joy of the love in the Trinity can be represented as the Divine Dance of Love.
– Since we are created in their image we are encouraged to join the Divine Dance of Love.
– Jesus at the most solemn moment of the last supper confirmed it, “The love with which you (Father) loved me may be in them and I in them.”
Carry broke the thoughtful silence. “This event confirmed some things for us and maybe more important showed us two things we were missing. It confirmed our analysis of love was on target and building it with questions was the simple way to go. And we can go there daily.
“The first thing we missed was, we tried to do it alone. We needed God’s help to grow our love for a lifetime.
We needed God’s help to optimize our being images of his divine nature.
“Secondly, we overlook the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of our creator. We needed to upgrade our Crystal Marriage to imitate our creators.
“The first way we wanted to imitate our creator was not keeping our love between the two of us.
We were a bit selfish just focusing on building the love between the two of us.
“It wasn’t just the Father loving the Son and vice versa. They both loved beyond themselves to include the third, the Holy Spirit. To imitate the Trinity, we needed to include others – our kids and the rest of our family and friends.
“And probably the biggest thing – in the past we saw ourselves as just doing something between Will and me. We needed to see Will and I building our love of ourselves and others as we were not alone. In asking our four questions we needed to join this Divine Dance that has been going on and will go on for all eternity.
“It make our daily efforts so much more meaningful as part of the eternal Divine Dance.”
“On the way home from the reunion we made three refinements to the simple question of the day:
– Abba, help me join your divine dance by valuing and appreciating my spouse more today.
– Jesus, help me join your divine dance by surprising and pleasing my spouse more today.
– Holy Spirit, help me join your divine dance by being closer to my spouse more today.
– We need to focus daily on our spouse, but also include others like kids, family and friends.
– We asked each other: What can I do for you next week so you become even more satisfied and be more a part of the Divine Dance?
Again there was a long silence. Then John said, “This is a lot to consider to make our marriage a Crystal Marriage. Of course it will be worth it. Any hints to make it easier and doable?”
Will replied, “We have the questions written in the place where we begin our day. The first thing when we start our day is to ask the question of the day.”
Then Carry added, “We also keep it very simple. We are commited to just one action a day.”
With much to ponder John and Maria thanked Carry and Will with the assurance they will give the four questions of the Crystal Marriage serious consideration.
Chapter 6. The Invitation to the Crystal Marriage
Six months later an invitation to John and Maria’s wedding arrived. When Carry handed the invitation to Will she said, “This is a marriage I don’t want to miss.”
On the happy day it was typical of most marriages. Everyone is in their – go to a wedding – best. The ceremony went along as expected, with one exception.
At the end of the vows with John going first they both said:
“… And I promise to ask our one daily Crystal Marriage question
and take just one action daily
so we can celebrate/dance together forever and ever and then some.”