Love Beyond I Do

This was a talk I gave to mothers in a monthly recollection.

Shots taken from our last date of the year @ Essenza.


We all got married because we want to be happy, we want to make our husbands happy. Without a doubt, we had the best intentions. We wanted to be the best wife for our husband.

Then life happens.

Children start coming in along with the associated difficulties and demands with raising them. There are no affordable helpers here. There is never enough money. Tuition fees are rising. Technology is driving the family apart. Work is so stressful. Your boss is a pain. Winter can be so depressing. Mothers in law thicken the plot even more.

You get tired and irritable being with your children most of the day who never seemed to stop complaining or bickering with each other while you struggle to just get some housework done or do an overdue nappy change or dinner ready. Your husband comes home with the pressure and burden of his job plus the frustration of driving home through the M1 jam.

Then you see your husband at the door. What happens? More often than not, this key meeting with our spouse is a defining moment not only of our day, but also of our marriage because it happens so regularly and inevitably.

Unity in marriage doesn’t mean there are no disagreements. Even Mary and Joseph had their share and it almost caused them a divorce. Unity in marriage doesn’t mean you just always give-in to what your husband wants to avoid any kind of conflict and achieve a false kind of peace. Unity in marriage doesn’t happen only to two perfect spouses. Such couples don’t exist.

What is unity in marriage?

It is about dreaming, looking together in the same direction, sharing and working together for the same values and goals.

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“What do we want our children to become? Do we want them to practice and love our Christian faith? How do we do that?”

“Do you really have to work or maybe we can cut our cost so you can stay at home with the children?”

“Can we really afford another child and give up whatever comfort we have now or maybe we should live our life with greater faith in God and let Him give us the number of children He wants us to have?”

God wants husbands and wives to become only one heart and only one soul and together attain their human perfection.

Marriage is not just a social institution. It is a real supernatural calling. It is a vocation, our path to holiness. Your ticket to heaven has your husband’s name on it.

How do we achieve this ever elusive physical and spiritual oneness, this joy of love?

  1. Humility is imperative. Real love has to cost.

Our interior attitude towards our better half is of utmost importance. We can learn all about the communication skills and master the psychological differences between man and woman but if we always think that we are right, our marriage won’t go far.

At the root of all marital strife is pride.

We have to watch out for its many subtle symptoms.

From Furrow 263, St Josemaria said:

Allow me to remind you that among other evident signs of a lack of humility are:

  • Thinking that what you do or say is better than what others do or say;
  • Always wanting to get your own way;
  • Arguing when you are not right or – when you are- insisting stubbornly or with bad manners;
  • Giving your opinion without being asked for it, when charity does not demand you to do so;
  • Despising the point of view of others;

A humble person does not take herself or her opinions too seriously. In an argument or in discussions, she never presumes that she’s always right and is open to advice and suggestions.

Humility takes a lifetime to learn.  St Josemaria advised: “To acquire it, we must regularly pull self-love out by the roots and plant in its place love for Christ. This is the secret to happiness.”

If you can’t say anything good, it is best to keep quiet.

We have to sift our thoughts and desires first in prayer.

Oh God why did he say that I always want to get my way? Can’t he see that I am so overwhelmed with the ever growing responsibilities here at home? He doesn’t have a clue how hard it is to take care of our children? Or maybe he has a point. I do give him a long list of things to do once he reaches home. I get crossed if he doesn’t do it. The poor guy probably needs some time to relax first. Oh God what should I do?”

Love is not so much in giving as in understanding.

Do we listen to him so we can give a rebuttal to his argument or do we seek to understand where he is coming from?

Love is patient and kind.

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  1. Forgive and forget.

It is not enough to be right. Love requires more. Love calls us to forgive. Love is a curative balm for our soul and our husbands. Hatred is a poison.” Love Refined: Letters to Young Bride by Alice von Hildebrand.

We have to love our husband with his defects because we also have defects, probably more and they are trying their best to live with that.

We can’t always put the blame on our husbands. “If only he earned more, I can afford to stop working to be with the children”. “If only he stops watching TV instead of helping me. I would then stop nagging”. “If only he talks to me more than his mother, I will stop being jealous”.

Look for the good qualities in him not the bad. Most of us find what we look for.

Change has to start from us. To be less complaining, to be more patient, to be more cheerful.

Pope Francis advised “There are always arguments in marriages, and at times even plates are thrown. But we must not be sad about this: this is the human condition. And the secret is that love is stronger than the moments in which we argue, and I therefore always advise married couples never to let the day draw to an end without making peace. There is no need to call in the United Nations peacekeepers. A little gesture is enough: a caress, see you tomorrow, and tomorrow we start afresh. This is life, and we must face it in this way, with the courage of living it together. Married life is beautiful, and must be protected.”

If God has forgiven us, how can we not forgive our husband?

If we don’t forgive, we only leave one person hurt. That is ourselves.

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  1. Learn the art of giving.

Christian marriage is not just a contract.

Christian marriage is a covenant. A covenant that forms a solemn agreement between the couple and God.

A COVENANT is a matter of self-gift, entails unqualified obligations and responsibilities and is for unlimited amount of time.

Married life is not for the selfish, comfort seekers. It demands a constant self-giving, more than anything else.

This love is total.

After the love that unites us to God, conjugal love is the greatest form of friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything without undue reservations or selfish calculations.

The best gift we can give is ourselves, those countless, heroic and unnoticed sacrifices. We do it for the love of God through our husband.

  1. Make it grow

Great marriages are like wine, it become better in time.

It is not enough to get by. Our love for each other has to grow, has to set us on fire. We have to love each other with the love of our youth. We have to live our engagement period well into our married life.

How?

Date.

Rekindle the romance. Set a time just for each other. To do what? To have a walk, a movie, a good meal without any interruptions. To talk about each other’s plans and dreams. And yes, to laugh about your children. To enjoy each other’s company just how it was like before everything got so complicated. To fall in love over and over again.

Make sure he knows that you will prioritize your relationship with him over your children, your career or your parents.

Happy marriages = Happy children.

We have to take care of our looks. Men are visual beings and we have to learn to charm them through their weakness.

The best form of make up, the most attractive of all is a SMILE.

We have to keep our husbands from going to other doors.

Refinement

Love is not rude.

We have to show every mark of kindness and respect. Be sensitive to their needs. Don’t nag. Never shout at them in front of the children. It will undermine their authority.

Don’t demand. Request.

Don’t command. Suggest.

Love is in the finer thing. It is in the details.

How many times do we say thank you, sorry, please.

Always remember: Marriage is a sacrament

Christ instituted and elevated marriage as a sacrament to make saints out of us. Marriage is a fountain of grace. We will receive the grace as and we need and ask for it.

“My grace will be sufficient for you.”

God didn’t say “Rely on your husband for all that you need”. This mentality causes many unmet expectations and often leaves us frustrated.

He said ” Apart from me, you can do nothing. With me all things are possible.” In our marriage, does God play a lead part or is He just ones of the extras? Do we really rely on Him to give us strength, to make us feel loved?

So how do we greet our husband once they come in that door after a long day at work?

Do we need to call the UN Peacekeeping Forces? Or will we give him that warm look or gentle smile at the end of his long day?

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