I’m getting married this Saturday to Donna Mason. It’s the second marriage for both of us. We each have two children, so it will be a blended family. We are both fairly independent and free-spirited, as she’s a bronze sculptor/art teacher/animal lover/horse woman, and I make my living as a business manager/accountant/financial advisor/planner who enjoys golf, drumming circles and new adventures/learnings near and far.
When I announced my upcoming nuptials to my Vistage CEO Board group, the guest speaker—an older, white, conservative man from the Midwest—told me that remarriage is the triumph of hope over experience. Needless to say, he and I did not bond initially. However, we did eventually find some common ground to share.
How do people of diverse backgrounds, ideologies, genders, etc., find common ground these days? It seems like many of us are reassessing relationships in general, from marriage, to political and professional affiliations, to social media applications (Facebook vs. Instagram, etc.). Where do we belong and why? What relationships are important to us?
The Benefits of Relationship
An old friend of mine, who is an artist/graphic designer/independent film producer/urban shaman with whom I participated in the powerful and life-changing Men’s Conferences in the ’90s with Robert Bly, James Hillman and Michael Meade, is presiding over Donna’s and my nuptials. When we asked Fu-Ding to marry us, he accepted immediately and soon began probing into our raison d’être: who are we individually and in relationship to each other. I loved our exploration of this line of inquiry and wish to share some of these insights.
One of the first questions Fu-Ding asked was why were we getting married when we could continue living together as we had been doing for the past several years. Upon exploration, Donna and I realized that by increasing the commitment in our relationship, we would create more possibilities for discipline.
Discipline? Why discipline? Because as many artists, athletes and yogis know, the greatest disciplines yield the greatest freedoms. And marriage is a commitment that requires discipline. Through marriage, one commits to the well-being of another and thus becomes free from the bounds of one’s own ego concerns to care for another. Quite liberating when you think about it! This freedom and expansion is one of the benefits of discipline/commitment/marriage.
Another benefit: Community. Any union—personal or professional—has the opportunity to bring together a new conglomeration of family, friends and communities that may not otherwise have come together, all brought together by the mutual commitment, cross-pollination, exchange of ideas, dreams and culture. That’s how societies grow and become enriched. A family (including almost any organization/team) is a society in embryo.
Spiritual growth: On a deeper level, marriage/intimate relationships are the coming together of the masculine and feminine energies already within each individual. Like the Taoist symbol of yin and yang, marriage/intimate relationships help to cultivate the balance of opposites within each partner so each can become whole, self-fulfilled beings. Thus a powerful third benefit of marriage/intimate relationships is that they can provide as great an opportunity as any for spiritual unfoldment and self-realization. As within, so without: The outer marriage is a reflection of the inner union.
The Power of Relationships
Relationships can be powerful containers for growth, community-building and learning to find freedom through discipline. No wonder one of our original core values at Singer Burke intuitively emphasizes enhancing our fulfillment by creating and sustaining authentic, personal and proactive relationships with colleagues, clients and the greater community.
As I look forward to exchanging vows with Donna this Saturday, in front of our friends and family, I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to strengthen our mutual commitments to each other, our shared community and our spiritual growth.