St Stephen Lewisham
2nd August 2013
Building a successful marriage is like building a successful house. Both begin, or should begin, with a plan. It’s no use piling one brick on another in the hope that the result will be a good house. Likewise a marriage which is just allowed ‘to happen’ is likely to be just as unsuccessful.
An architect’s plan has of two different types of drawing. Most of them will show the plan for individual rooms, bedrooms, the lounge, the kitchen as ‘seen from above’. They will be full of measurements and lines which show what shape they will be, how large, and where the windows corridors, doors and staircases will be, and how high from ceiling to floor.
That’s not the sort of drawing most people want to look at. We want to imagine how the house will look when completed. So on every plan there’s always one small drawing which is a sketch. This sketch, called an ‘isometric’ view, has no measurements in it: so it’s completely useless to those who are doing the building. It’s the other drawings which enable the house to be built to everyone’s satisfaction..
There are also two ways of looking at Marriage. One is like the isometric view: a pretty artist’s impression of what the finished article will look like from the outside. That’s the view most people like to take; but it doesn’t tell us very much except that it ‘looks ever do lovely’. What it’ll be like living on the inside is quite a different matter!
The other way is to look at it from ‘above’, from God’s point of view as it were; and, like the architect’s drawing, that’s the only view that really matters. For God, through marriage, turns Lavinia and Patrick from being two individuals, into a union designed to last for the rest of their lives.
And just as the architects drawing treats every room separately, and yet turns them into one house, those who ask God to bring them together into a single family must expect that this will involve ‘getting the measure’ of each other. ‘Can two walk together unless they be agreed?’ asks the old proverb – and the answer is almost certainly ‘No’ unless they have first decided how they are going to fit together all the emotional furniture which each of them brings to the marriage. For instance some people like being sociable whilst others like privacy. And so the house they build should allow for both these choices.
But perhaps the most important thing is to recognize that, in God’s eyes, there are neither ceilings nor roofs. Like the architect’s drawings, He looks down straight into them ‘from above’. All hearts are open, all desires known, and from Him no secrets are hidden. He has a Plan for Patrick, a Plan for Lavinia, and a Plan for their whole family. It’s the family who realizes this, and lives accordingly that will be the one of whom people will say, as they do of the isometric drawing, ‘How beautiful it looks!’