Write Team: A good marriage inspires

Todd Volker was named executive director of Habitat for Humanity La Salle, Bureau and Putnam Counties.

Trees in the forest, under a stiff wind, end up with their branches supporting each other. Marriages are like that. A good marriage inspires and sustains other marriages. It is a joy to see good marriages. Marriage tends to improve us.

I should know. I’ve got a good marriage. This month we’ll be celebrating 25 years. Our celebration will include planting 25 tree saplings as a planting of burr oaks. I’m hoping in years to come, we may visit and watch these grow.

I first met Linda my wife in a forest and in that forest we were married. I asked her to go to a Peoria Rivermen hockey game and we had a great time and it was the first of everything else. We dated and did fun things – ice skating, antiquing, hiking and biking. I ended up asking her father for her hand in marriage ... to my surprise he said yes! ... and I then took two weeks to muster up the gumption to ask her if she would marry me.

I proposed at the top of Lover’s Leap at Starved Rock. We married under an apple tree and then jetted to Paris.

Marriage brings psychic security. It is a permanent relationship, done well. You become invested in each other – her life is your life, and your life is her life. Marriage is more than two people living together and being good company for each other. It’s building the future – making a family – and really the very greatest joy in my life is our son. Children are a gift from God, a wellspring of joy.

And building great children is a great goal in life. To nurture a child to adulthood is an impressive feat – in many ways more valuable all around than just making profit for a company.

In a way, marriage really is a builder of good living. You get good families, good neighborhoods, good communities.

I see long-married couples as gaining in life maturity. They’ve seen the game from many of the angles. They can tell you what men are about, what women may actually want, and what happens with kids and their growth.

Like many, I studied some basic human psychology, the psychology of the individual. I also studied social psychology. But I did not study Couples Psychology – which is the psychology we all should seriously know – how two people recognize valuable traits and potentials in each other ... how they both together grow and develop ... how their pairing begins and develops and how they affect each other. There are many ways of doing couplehood. It’s a fascinating subject.

The mindless joking about marriage is so extensive that we forget the many human goods that come through marriage. Is there some mastermind evil agenda behind all the negative joking about marriage? Are we really supposed to live happily alone? It’s pretty clear that happiness increases with marriage.

So our rehearsal dinner was at Mona’s in Toluca. And we’ll be headed back to the same spot later this month –+ and perhaps the very same table – that our families ate at so long ago. So much has changed, but much remains the same. So much has passed, but there is so much more to go. May God bless our next 25 years as he has blessed our past 25 years.

Todd Volker lives in Ottawa with his wife and son, and they enjoy reading, kayaking, hiking, tennis and camping. He’s a lifelong learner with books in his hands.