An Open Circle of Love

One can only marvel at couples who successfully manage life in community alongside their own needs as spouses. Communities by definition place demands on their members which sometimes feel overwhelming. The daily give and take in the household, meals in common, regular prayers, chores and other responsibilities, financial discussions, weekly meetings, communal ministries, routine daily requests for time and attention, tensions, and personal problems within the group-all of these add up to what someone has described as the "constant pull" of community on the individual. Sometimes it feels as if there is absolutely no time for oneself.

Of course, precisely herein lies the success or failure of any given community-the willingness of its members to get pulled out of themselves into the common life. The community that survives will have several in its number who can do this in rather extraordinary ways on behalf of the collective. In fact, every successful community we know has at least one pivotal person who, without setting him/herself over or above the rest, serves as the "mother/father." (From time to time, it's important to acknowledge these selfless community members, because they are the glue that holds the whole project together.)

Enter the married couple with their admitted need for physical and psychological space-for time apart, for intimacy, where they can argue and resolve disagreements-where they work out the never-ending requirements of a growing, healthy marriage. Viewed from the outside you ask: How in the world could the constant demands of community possibly mesh with the constant demands of the married relationship?

Yet there are married couples who manage gracefully their lives together and in community. We have seen a number of them do it. Not only that, but community members who are married become treasured gifts in the group. Their example points to a giving of themselves which, as we know, builds community.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1996
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