“One of the hardest things in marriage is the feeling of being watched. It is the constant surveillance that can get to one, that can wear one down like a bright light shining in the eyes, and that leads inevitably to the crumbling of all defenses, all facades, all the customary shams and masquerades of the personality. Does this make marriage sound like some ordeal of brainwashing? But actually that is very much the sort of effect it has, with the single exception that the one doing the brainwashing, the one holding the bright light, is not some ruthless prosecutor or torturer, but love. It I love that pins us to the wall and makes us answer, and makes us keep on answering until the answer that comes out is the one that love wants to hear.
So it can be hard to be watched, to have one’s whole life put under surveillance, and for the person who does not want to be spied upon, it makes scant difference whether the watcher be love or something more sinister. What is hard is the watchfulness. For we are opaque, solid creatures; we resist being transparent. And yet that is what love asks for: transparency.
Matrimony, then, through this devastating strategy of watching, launches a fierce and unrelenting attack upon the fortress of the ego, upon that place in a person that craves privacy, independence, self-sufficiency, lack of interference. Nevertheless, for the couple able to withstand this assault and who mature together in love, there is a great surprise in store, for there is a gradual discovery that marriage at its best possesses an uncanny power for deeply gratifying this very ego, this peculiar separateness of each person, even as it chastens it. Marriage, in other words, turns out to be the best of two worlds, satisfying all of the needs relating to separateness and solitude, together with those of companionship. Think what it is like, for example, to be alone with one’s beloved, to be silent and still and enthralled, with no other purpose than that of being together, being alone with love. It is, oddly enough, an experience of being neither alone nor not-alone, but rather about midway between the two, and somehow involving the very best of both experiences. It means that one can totally relax, but with a relaxation that nevertheless has an edge to it, for there is always the awareness that one is being watched. And yet, being watched by one who loves is not like being watched by anyone else on earth! No, to be loved as one is being watched is like one thing only: It is like the watchfulness of the Lord God Himself, the sense that the believer has of living out his life in the invisible presence of the living God, and of being so loved that it is as if an aura or halo had already been conferred upon him, a spiritual electricity that surrounds and fills all of his words and actions, for suddenly all that he is and does is not only accepted and respected, but marveled at. More than just being appreciated, he is treated as being awesome, beautiful. He is cherished.
Under such treatment, of course, a person is given the opportunity of opening like a flower and becoming perfectly natural, perfectly himself. And yet this true self of his turns out, surprisingly, to be someone he himself has never met before, someone just mysteriously different enough from the real self he thought he was that it can only be described, finally, as someone entirely new. Or someone who has been there all along, perhaps, but who has finally become self-confident enough, through the grace of love, to step out of the shadows. For that is what love does: It brings people out into the light, no matter how painful that transition might prove to be. Love aims at revelation, at a clarifying and defining of our true natures. It is a sort of sharpening process, a paring away of dull and lifeless exteriors so that the keen new edge of a person’s true self can begin to flash and gleam in the light of day.
A diamond cannot be cut with a tin saw, and neither can a hawk fly with a butterfly. A person, to grow keen and shining and real, needs love, which is to say, needs another person: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). And sharpening is a painful process: Extract the pain from love, and there is nothing left.” The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason pgs. 24-26