Just recently, against the background of declining numbers wishing to marry and the UK parliament having a kick-about on the subject, I had a remarkable conversation with Life coach, oxygenation expert and musician, Ruth Gilmore, who firmly believes in the power of marriage and she told me why.
Ruth has had an extraordinary life - certainly by my measure - with more tragedy and trauma than most of us have to bear. She has also provided me with the most compelling reason to enter into marriage.
She's an extraordinary lady, but to her absolute credit, she doesn't quite see it like that. As is often the case with people who have experienced the sort of shocks in life that would have many of us curled up in a ball for weeks, months, if not years, she seems to have developed a beautiful, philosophical outlook based on the "tragic" events of her life.
One of the things that really got my attention in our, at times intense exchange, was her assertion that she "loved everyone". More than getting my attention, I have to say this comment got right under my rather uncharitable skin. How on earth can anyone love everyone?
Believe her or not, looks like Ruth is getting there.
"I believe love is a gift from God, unconditional and always there - ready to flow in abundance - to and through us," she told me. "I do not believe we have the right to limit its flow towards others and I do not think it is up to us to decide if someone deserves it or not. What right have we got to play God?"
Interesting. But, as we all know, life isn't quite like that. You may, by now, not be surprised to hear that Ruth has got that figured too:
"We may have issues with others which prevent us from being able to pass that love around freely and abundantly," Ruth continued, adding: "yet are those issues really with others or with our self?"
"Have we allowed circumstances from the past to dictate how we feel about someone now? Why bring the past to the party?" she asks.
Ruth has realised that this rationing of love allows her to now understand what her mother was often saying to her as a child: "I will always love you but I may not always like you."
With regard to relationships, Ruth has realised that this awareness is not always used by the significant others in her life. They, (and to my shame, I realised I do this too – could be a man-thing) use a very different principle of withdrawing love if they do not like her in a given moment.
"For me," says Ruth, "this makes it very hard to understand what makes the other tick because if I have to censor what I question or what I feel in case the other does not like it, and withdraws love immediately as a consequence, then how can these issues be explored and how can we grow?"
Good question. See what I mean about her extraordinary view of life?
"That is why I am in favour of marriage rather than living with someone. To me marriage is a commitment to constantly 'love' one's partner and knowing that the love is constant. You have the freedom of being able to 'question' anything without having to phrase it in a certain way or reduce the feeling as you have to do with others," says this loving life-coach who tackles these big issues in the songs she writes too.
"I have experienced such a marriage and it is fab," she heart-rendingly added.
Ruth realises that this understanding is not one shared by many and may account for why so many want to live together instead. But here's one woman who won't be throwing out the baby of eternal truth with the bathwater of social trends.
Postscript: I have since heard that Ruth is getting married on July 7th. Congratulations!