One morning, my husband and I were getting ready to go about our daily routine. I decided to have a shower before the kids woke up. Unbeknownst to me, John was having a shower in the other bathroom at the same time. Now our house has a limited capacity for hot water, so you can guess the rest. Both of us got a dose of cold water that morning. What a way to start a morning! But, fortunately we got a good chuckle out of it.
This is simply a small example of what the lack of communication can do in a marriage. If one goes one way and the other goes the other without communicating with each other, we get hit with a cold shower almost every time no matter what form that takes in daily life.
The movie "Fireproof" portrays a marriage in desperate need of repair with the divorce papers in the works where the lack of communication is but one of the troubles taking the marriage to ruins. But amid the destructive fire within the marriage a flicker of hope remains. One partner decides to go against his will and begin the process to try to re-ignite their love again. It started with advice from his father to do one unexpected act of kindness every day over 40 days for his wife. The story builds on that principle from there with all of its struggles, pain, and healing.
The sacrament of marriage cannot take place unless the couple goes through the marriage consent (Catechism of the catholic church, 1625-1632). One form of the dialogue that happens is as follows:
"(Name) and (name), have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?"
"Will you honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?"
"Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?"
Priest (or deacon): Since it is your intention to enter into marriage, join your right hands, and declare your consent before God and his Church.
Groom: I, (name), take you, (name), for my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
Bride: I, (name), take you, (name), for my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
Groom (placing the wedding ring on his wife's ring finger): (Name), take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Bride (placing the wedding ring on her husband's ring finger): (Name), take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. http://www.catholicweddinghelp.com/topics/catholic-wedding-vows.htm
When one gets married, the love feels strong. That is why we get married right? We almost wear rose colored glasses in what is called the "romantic phase" (the first stage of marriage). I remember one of the best pieces of advice a newly ordained priest gave us when we were newly married that was, "Never forget the feelings you have now and keep them in your heart." At the time the comment was a little foreign of course, because how could this feeling disappear? I took the advice and remembered his statement. Now, after almost 7 years of marriage, I have never understood more the importance of these wise words.
Many know the saying that love is a choice and not always a feeling. When good times are replaced by tougher times, our love for each other is tested. Love is like a child. The child will test you and test you until you are black and blue in the face. The child wants to know how serious you are, as if saying, do you truly mean what you are saying? Love says, are you truly committed to the love you professed many years ago? The answer should consistently say, YES! I AM! I pledge my love for you for better OR for worse, till death do us part.
I recently listened to a CD recording of speakers Dr. Michael and Catherine Pakaluk. They spoke of an amazing testimony about how they came to where they were now with Catherine being Michael's 2nd wife. His first wife died of cancer at the tender age of 41 leaving him with 6 children. Dr. Michael Pakaluk mentioned how he was standing next to his wife's grave at the end of the funeral, saying, "It is finished".
It was very touching to hear, not only because it paralleled what Jesus said before he died on the cross fulfilling His promise, but because his marriage WAS finished. His vocation of marriage to Ruth, his first wife had been fulfilled and it was good. The promise fulfilled is the epitome of what love truly is.
I believe that the vows we take within marriage should be kept in a special place so we can meditate on them especially when times are bad. When one gets married we have a pretty clear image of what the "better" part of our vows were. But, it's the "worse" part where things get a little grey. We see the "better" because our marriage commitment when first married is so new.
Let's face it, the longer we are married the "more intense" the temptations can be. We can choose to let the temptations go or succumb to them and sin. If we choose to act on the temptation, we will suffer the consequences. Sin can become a cancer unless we cooperate with grace to stop it from growing by saying, "NO" to sin.
When temptations come, the following are four ways we can choose to deal with them:
- Meditate on the wedding vows, especially the "for worse" part.
- Meditate on the scripture passage, "What God has brought together, let no man put asunder" (Mark 10:2-16).
- Meditate while looking at a physical picture or a mental picture of our family as opposed to dwelling on our selfish needs. Our family is a gift to treasure: My husband who is not perfect, our kids and the joy, innocence, and energy that they exude are truly gifts.
- Do we really want to destroy what God has given or do we want to build our marriage and make it better and brighter no matter what the cost? We need to remind ourselves that what we have in front of us is beautiful and believe it.
- Last, but not least, we need to put out the flames of conflict with forgiveness and frequently receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Forgiveness, acts of kindness (in the movie, "Fireproof", they called the acts of kindness the 40 Day Love Dare), and a serious commitment to change will be the water the marriage needs to put out the flaming fires before they become out of control to the point of destroying the marriage.
Take time to watch the movie "Fireproof" and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. Whether your marriage is heading for divorce or not, you will reap benefits. Listen to the theme song, "Waiting". Let the song pour into your being and let it speak to your heart. This song brought goose bumps to my skin for the longest time while hearing it. This song is truly a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
* For more information re: the four stages of marriage visit www.HelpOurMarriage.com