Except for our relationship with God, marriage is the most important relationship in all of human affairs.
Think of it. It is because of you and your spouse we have the human race at all. Sure, we know the various ways human conception can take place without a marriage union; but the “call of nature” put in us by God will always require a man and a woman to bring forth a child.
And . . . a human child (again by God’s design) requires at least 20 years of nurturing, education and character formation. So “making babies” is only the beginning of the work of making men and women.
And . . . the work of leading a child to adulthood needs, in the best environment, a mother and a father.
And . . . mothers and fathers, in order to be their best for the child, need the support of a spouse. A loving wife. A loving husband.
Now I don’t know, since I’m not married with children; which is deeper, the love of husband and wife OR the love of parent for child? I suppose it’s different for each family. I don’t think there are any rules here. One wife and mother corrects me by saying, “They’re each different. I love them all (spouse and children) totally. Each in their own way.”
What I do know is that the human heart wants to give both spousal love and parent love. They each have their own season. Most marriages reach a stage when personal fulfillment becomes secondary to the needs of the children. In this sense parental love can (for a while) come easier. The urgency of a child’s need can delay one’s response to their spouse.
Spousal love began a long time ago in a moment we call “falling in love”. Your Senior Prom (a New Year’s celebration, a moonlit night, whatever) brought a moment of choice for this person who overwhelmed you with their beauty or charm. (Engaged couples need to test the strength of this love. Are they kind, honest, hardworking, faith filled, gentle?)
Married life has a way of revealing what love really is. It grows because of the various struggles along the way.
The beauty or charm that drew you to each other has, over time, become a love of their character: their kindness, their generosity. The fire of “first love” has become a deep and abiding peace.
Moments of disappointment, misunderstanding, selfish- ness (they happen to all of us, don’t they?) bring the false message that you’ve made a mistake; that love is gone. Not true!! Don’t listen to that.
In fact here’s where love earns its wings. You are on the verge of discovering what it’s all about! It’s in the dying to yourself for your spouse that you prove your love for them. It’s when you say to your wife, “My Queen”. . . to your husband, “My King”. And then lay yourself down for them.
So how can you make this switch from “what about me?” to “I’m yours.” It happens because you realize you’re involved in something bigger than yourself and the hard feelings you’re having at this time. God is here. He gave you this partner. He wants you two to win.
It happens when you begin to realize that Christ IS your love for your spouse. That’s right. Your love for your husband, your wife, brings Christ to them. You are Holy Communion for your spouse!! That’s the power of the sacrament you received. You become God’s love for each other.
What does that love look like? Christ on the cross. The crucifix hanging in your bedroom . . . that’s your love for each other.
Don’t feel it? God will give it to you. It’s called prayer. And it’s critical. “Ask and you shall receive . . .”
Anyway we want to honor our married couples this winter with some fun and informative events. Save the date!! February 4. It’s a Saturday night in Murphy Hall. It’s a catered supper (need your reservation) with cocktails and music. We have a guest speaker that night that will teach and make us laugh about the “Art of Marriage”. Stay tuned married couples. More to come.
God bless your Advent. Go slow.