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Read Letter

Marriage Lessons from The Simpsons

Dear Jack,

Homer Simpson is a very famous man. As famous as any man can be. He, of the television cartoon series The Simpsons, has been described as one of the most influential TV characters. We hear women use the expression, “D’oh” but we don’t realize it’s from Homer. The word is now in Oxford Dictionary.

The creator of Homer is Matt Groening. He actually created him in a waiting room while waiting to pitch some shorts. He named Homer after his father and Homer’s hairstyle is curiously an “M”. It’s fashioned after the initial of Matt. Just for information purposes, the voice of Homer is Dan Castellaneta, an American voice actor.

Homer is described on Wikipedia as “crude, bald, overweight, incompetent, clumsy, lazy, a heavy drinker and ignorant.” And that’s just half of it. It’s amazing therefore that he works as safety inspector at Springfield Power Plant!

Homer is the most selfish family man you ever met, though one must wonder if the expression is oxymoronic. How can a family man be selfish, you ask but Homer embodies the contradiction with aplomb. Truth is Homer is a decent man. He’s fiercely devoted to his family. He has three kids. He can’t do without Marge, his loving and absorbent wife. He loves her dearly. It’s just that selfishness thing. Marge is the antithesis of her husband. She’s simple in nature, accommodating. Has incredible strength of character. But even the Marges of this world do get tired sometimes.

On one of those holidays Marge left home with the children. Homer had taken his selfishness too far. She made a tape explaining why she put up with him. She philosophised her accommodation of her husband’s faults. She likened appreciating him to viewing a work of art. You’ve got to step back to appreciate a great work of art. In other words, when we’re too close to someone, we see the warts and rough edges. But if we step back we’ll see beauty. And that’s how Marge accommodates the impossible excesses of her husband. She steps back. Love always takes a step back to appreciate the other person. Love always takes a philosophical view of things.

There are so many marriage lessons from the life and times of Homer and Marge. For one they truly love each other. Marge deeply loves Homer. You can’t marry Homer otherwise. And Homer loves Marge. Nobody can take that from him. It’s just that he’s so self absorbed. The chief lesson is accommodation. No marriage can work without accommodation. Couples must have absorbent capacity. Without accommodation there will be recriminations in a marriage. Patience too. It’s closely related to accommodation. Love is patient. We all have faults. We just forget to use the mirror sometimes. And most things we fight over don’t really matter. Does it REALLY matter he presses the toothpaste in the middle?

If you list all the issues in a marriage you will discover that most don’t matter. We just make them matter. In other words, most of the time it’s our REACTION to issues that amplifies the problem. There is something about a loving home that muffles the condemnation of human imperfection. But what is most touching about Marge is that she allows Homer be. Homer is the most imperfect of men. Yes, but Marge lets Homer be. She loves him that much. Letting each other be creates an air of freedom in a marriage. Otherwise someone’s going to feel circumscribed. And when the suffocation reaches a head the pressurized pipe bursts. That’s when expletives of emotion are used. The parties dredge up words that seek to wound like the scorpion locusts in the Book of Revelation. Marriage is not a cage though both end with “age”.

Marge is an extremely forgiving person. Some people don’t forgive. They have filing cabinets in their hearts. Offences are properly indexed and filed. When a similar issue crops up it’s cross-referenced. Yet love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love forgives. Love forgets. Were Marge keeping a record of Homer’s wrongs she’ll need a library. The man is impossible. But she knows his heart is okay. He loves his family. That’s a fundamental.

What’s the fundamental about your spouse? It’s important to know. Allows you to philosophize away faults. But it’s also important to really want a marriage. Homer wants his marriage. When couples really want to be together the marriage endures.

Marriage is a co-dependence ecosystem of the heart. And Marge never says anything bad about Homer. Not even to the kids. It’s not that the kids can’t see the glaring faults of their father. But in Marge’s court no jury can convict Homer. Couples must defend each other before third parties, and third parties include the kids. You don’t do yourself any good rubbishing your spouse to third parties, or the children. When you deny or under-report her efforts, or even appropriate them, you do yourself a disservice. Ditto the woman.

One thing about Homer though is that Homer tries to improve Homer. Marriage is a continuous self-improvement course. It’s a lifetime school. There’s nothing like, “This is the way I am!” or, “This is how you met me!” Not if you want a successful marriage. The key is to at least try. Just trying provokes love in a spouse. Marge knows Homer tries! And when your spouse “tries”, encourage her. I’d say the same thing to the wife.

These are the few marriage lessons from the Simpsons. When next you see Homer on TV, please say Hi! As for Marge, if ever there was an embodiment of the love described in 1 Corinthians 13, it has to be Marge! Homer is one lucky dude! D’oh!

© Leke Alder |

Tags : Marriage, Forgive, Accommodate

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