'I kicked the stuffing out of the Spoiler'

A conversation with marriage counselor and author Ann Tremaine Linthorst

Try asking Ann Linthorst, a family counselor for more than 35 years, "Why get married?" and her answer skims back like a well-controlled frisbee. "Marriage is not a should," she tells me. "And it's not a place to start. It's better to begin with the quality of life and relationship to which you aspire—with understanding what life's all about, what you're here for, what really satisfies and fulfills. Most of us want to live loving, creative, vital, playful, joyful, and peaceful lives.

"Marriage needs to be based upon a desire to participate with someone in living a life and building a home around these values—with or without children," says Ann. "And it's a worthy aspiration, to go for a lasting companionship that embodies love, intelligence, and fidelity. What many people forget, though, is that a marriage certificate doesn't guarantee these qualities. If you want a quality marriage, you have to be more interested in qualities than in marriage. Marriage is a joint participation in God's goodness, not ego-gratification."

Ann says the significance of joint participation emerged in a minor incident in their family when she, her husband, Jan, and their son Tommy were spending a weekend away at a hotel in Connecticut. It was a bit of a stretch for their budget, so Ann got very busy with her self-appointed task of managing the situation with too few resources.

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May 24, 2004

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