I remember my first love well. I was a virgin of seventeen when I said yes to him. He was an artist and he saw me with an artist's eye. I mistook for undying love, the focus of his hunt for the capture of my modest beauty. Once I had foolishly accepted him as my lover his interest dramatically waned. The week before our wedding, he decamped. I was 19 and felt like a widow.

My second serious try at mated bliss was marred by my own motives and ambitions. My first husband married me because we had gotten a good job, opening for Peter, Paul and Mary, then a popular signing trio, in a national tour. He and I had been singing our folk music in the Louisville area for three years. We had sixty original songs to offer the world in an idealistic outpouring of love and beauty. We married because my fundamentalist singing partner would not tour with me unless we were married.

Again, I was foolish to bow to this pressure. After our wedding day, my husband turned down the tour, dropped out of school, quit his job and sulked for the four years of our marriage while leaving me seven times. The seventh try stuck and he asked me for a divorce. How relieved I was! I had been determined to keep this awkward promise I had made "for better or for worse." I felt as though I had been set free from prison.

One would think that by now I would be cynical and bitter. However I am a born optimist. I gathered my feet under me and focused on my work. At the time I was a librarian for a small private girl's school. I immersed myself in the work, the children, my church and my singing.

New love came. It was eccentric and wonderful. For the next sixteen years of my life, I enjoyed a celibate partnership with the most powerfully brilliant man I had ever met. With him I founded L/L Research, which still occupies my every waking thought — well, almost! With him I began the study of channeling, which I have continued to this hour. Our "marriage" was never formalized. We jumped over a broomstick in the hallway and became "handfasted." We dreamed, did research into everything from ghosts to UFOs, crop circles to psychic surgery. We worked hard together and produced books. My beloved companion died in 1984, leaving me in my thirties and still innocent of any knowledge of what a good marriage could be.

Then my present husband, Jim, came into my life. At first he was my student, learning channeling from me. Then he became my partner in L/L Research. In 1987 we married. And my present adventure began. 19 years later this May 30, I am still utterly engrossed in discovering the depths and riches of the abundant pleasures and treasures of marriage.

When I look at the marriage ceremony I can see that it is a covenant, a promise. What we do not see, and what my channeling source tells me, is that this covenant is between three entities rather than two: "In any metaphysical covenant there is a third party which overshadows both entities. You may call that being the Creator in whatever face you see. Perhaps we would do best to call it living love."

With my first love I had no awareness of anything but him. I idolized him. The Creator was not to be found there. With my singing, wandering husband, I had entered marriage focusing on sacred work, on offering my gift of voice and heart to the world, not at all on either him or on the Creator.

With my celibate teacher and partner I experienced a powerful sixteen years of learning and service that had no resemblance to marriage. There was great love and dedication there. The Creator was prominent in our covenant, such as it was. But it was not a marriage. I had no right to work with him when I was upset. He maintained a strict distance.

Jim was ready to do the work of marriage. And so was I.

Sacred marriage is an ordeal, as Joseph Campbell says. It is hard work. Any two people rasp from time to time. Small hurts can become high walls. Grudges can erode the pleasure of each other's company until there is nothing left of the good times. And that is where the Creator comes in.

Jim and I were both willing to take the time to ask the Creator and each other for patience and compassion. If there was the slightest problem between us, we would take what time we needed to come back into harmony. To this day we do that. It used to be difficult. Now it is as easy as breathing. One of us will say, "We need to talk." And we're off for a few minutes of honesty and humility.

It is no chore to do this, because we have now experienced the peace and relaxation that comes from working things out. Once that "Bingo" feeling of righting the relationship and finding even better harmony than before has been experienced, one wants nothing less.

Sexuality also benefits greatly from the inclusion of the Creator. The awareness of our sacred bond makes sex into godly play and we romp, even now as old age creeps steadily towards us, with undiminished pleasure, thanking and praising the Creator as we go. We have this fanciful but perhaps not so inaccurate idea that as we explode with joy and thanksgiving in our private sun, we add to the light that radiates around our planet and our universe.

I love what the Q'uo (my channel sources) have to say about the possibilities of marriage. Talking about the advantages of marriage over an uncommitted, more informal partnership, they say that in marriage, "The conditions are more clear, the responsibilities are greater and the end result is a crystalline structure that may become part of the higher self of both in the marriage, not only within the life experience, but in the cosmic or eternal portion of the self, until such time as personhood is no longer. Those who have created the jewel of a promise fulfilled create a light source that, like all other light sources of love in the creation, are available whatever the time, whatever the space."

I open my arms and embrace your spirit. If you are married, know that your promise — kept, honored and cherished — shines like a beacon. Yours is the Noah's Ark that carries you both safely through the flood of life, to the Ararat of eternity. What a blessing marriage is!