I have heard, from as far back as I can remember, that marriage is hard work. I always wondered how married people managed to have such full lives, especially after having children, if marriage was so much work. I had this conception of working on one’s marriage as being in a vacuum.
Marriage is not living with someone; it’s integrating two very different lives into a cohesive, harmonious whole—which doesn’t mean agreeing on everything. Rather, it means being able to build a home of love because of these differences, using them as much as the things the couple have in common.
I see now how learning to live harmoniously with someone fits so seamlessly into community-building. Because if my husband and I can’t agree on everything, most certainly my neighbours and I won’t. But if I learn to work it out with my husband, I can most certainly use these tools to work it out with pretty much anybody willing to do the work.
Which is why I think commitment is so important when it comes to community-building: commitment to working it out with our neighbours, even if we can choose to barely know them, or even barely see them. Commitment to deepening friendships, choosing not to be distracted by the many forms of entertainment luring our attention and energy.
Because I don’t think we need to be friends with everyone—it’s not possible, quite honestly—but if each one of us learns to be true friends with a small circles, all our circles will overlap, all around the world, and every one of them can be harmonious.
It’s a matter of hard work and commitment—a lot like marriage.