Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Marriage as Culture Shock

My sister-in-law is a huge Leo Tolstoy fan. She’s into Tolstoy literature like Michael Jackson’s into plastic surgery – it has reshaped her. And apparently Tolstoy also influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. among others. That, in addition to the fact that he’s considered a literary genius is enough for me to listen to some of the things he had to say.

In the introduction to my blog I mentioned the fact that marriage can sometimes fall under the category of culture shock. It seems that there are others who agree, including Leo Tolstoy. So here’s Tolstoy on marriage from Anna Karenina:

Levin had been married three months. He was happy, but not at all in the way he had expected to be. At every step he found his former dreams disappointed, and new, unexpected surprises of happiness. He was happy; but on entering upon family life he saw at every step that it was utterly different from what he had imagined. At every step he experienced what a man would experience who, after admiring the smooth, happy course of a little boat on a lake, should get himself into that little boat. He saw that it was not all sitting still, floating smoothly; that one had to think too, not for an instant to forget where one was floating; and that there was water under one, and that one must row; and that his unaccustomed hands would be sore; and that it was only to look at it that was easy; but that doing it, though very delightful, was very difficult.

I think he’s right on. In fact, I’ve found that it’s often after some of the more difficult moments that the ‘unexpected surprises of happiness’ find their ways into our marriage. Sure, marriage can be culture shock, but I can’t imagine my life without the wonderfully committed relationship I have with my wife.

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