Now I should be upfront and say that I’ve been happily married for 26 years to the same woman, and we have two lovely but terribly rotten children. So my bias leans toward a functional marriage, wherein the “vehicle” of marriage works, perhaps not like a Lamborghini, but more like a Volvo – safe, reliable, and not prone sudden acceleration, or brake failure. But now that I’ve murdered that train of similes, let me move on.
At church, I listened to Pastor Buddy talk about how marriage can be like Disneyland, or a prison, in that it sets boundaries for your life. So what about that? Disneyland like a marriage? As I mulled it over, the more apt I found the analogy to be.
Marriage, like Disneyland marriage ain’t cheap, and there is no guarantee that you will end up happy. But the potential exists, and certainly you will end up sharing EVERYTHING together, mainly a journey, through crowds, heat, noise, piss-poor food and screaming toddlers. Having said that, however, there will be rare moments of calm – where you go along for the ride, in climate controlled comfort, surrounded by those you love, and come out safely on the other side. Then there are the other times filled with alternating moments of abject terror and frustration, followed by boredom, aching limbs, and having to smell each others BO.
The ups and downs of marriage can be comparable to Disney rides, though the experience will vary like the rides do. For example, some experiences are like Space Mountain, a long slog in a darkened corridor filled with lots metallic noises and computer displays, only to shoe-horned into a narrow seat by yourself and hurtled with life threatening speed through the dark, with streaks of light (and perhaps your soul) passing before you. Kind of like buying a house, or hearing the words “Honey, I’m pregnant.” Hmmm, or maybe your experience is like the Tea Cups, a quaint, slightly old-fashioned combination of vertigo and nausea? You don’t go far, but your head is always spinning. Like being the fashion referee around the house – oh no, I really wanted to go through your entire wardrobe that you looked at half and hour ago, only to tell me you’ll wear something else. Or perhaps your experience is like the Haunted Mansion, scary when you were younger, somewhat amusing as you got older, but now tedious and old-fashioned as the special effects. Can anyone say, in-laws? Or maybe it is like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, where you hurdle out-of-control, forward and backward, across noisy tracks just to end up where you started. Can anyone say, adolescents?
Like Disney, some aspects are never a thrill, or even fun related. For example, both waste no time or effort to separate you from your wallet and fill available space with completely useless and trivial junk which you spend the rest of the day hauling from one location to another. Or having TSA search through the three suitcases your child has filled with souvenirs, dolls, stuffed animals, and socks in which she has hoarded and squirreled away milk chocolate candies, which have melted so the whole combination resembles furry dog turds.
Extending this concept further, the road to marriage can be like trying to get to Disneyland, in that it takes a lot of effort just to get to that entrance gate. Are you going to slog through an excruciatingly long car ride, with countless bathroom stops and meals in places where even the CDC wouldn’t go? Or perhaps hop on a plane and be quickly hurtled through the sky and dropped onto asphalt at high speeds after your shoes have been scanned for explosives. Either way, you’re in for an adventure before the journey even starts.
At least at Disney you are always surrounded by the relentlessly optimistic. Of course they are being paid to be optimistic, which is a big difference between being optimistic for free. Then again, if I waxed optimistic daily, my wife would probably have me committed, or at least examined for signs of a stroke. It’s the way God made me, OK!
Finally, there is the commitment. Going to Disneyland, requires money, planning and time. Without these, you can’t do it. And to get all these requires discipline, sacrifice, and dedication. And when you get there, you make the most of it, because you don’t know if you’ll ever get the chance to do it again. Same applies to marriage – but the sad thing about marriage is that so many people head for the exits before the park closes, and they can never capture the magic again – mouse or no mouse.
So marriage like Disneyland can be a one of a kind experience, full of joy, fun and laughter. For a time, reality and stress can disappear, and you can live the moment. The boundaries around you help keep chaos away, and everything you need is within reach. But unlike Disneyland, with marriage you can be much richer when you leave, filled with that most precious of commodities, love.
Perhaps it is better to say Disneyland is like marriage, without the goofy and dopey in-laws.