Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Mindful Monday: On Marriage

posted by Beyond Blue

wedding rings.jpg

On Mindful Monday, my readers and I practice the art of pausing, TRYING to be still, or considering, ever so briefly, the big picture. We’re hoping this soul time will provide enough peace of mind to get us through the week! I wanted to republish this piece today since it is Eric and my 13th wedding anniversary.

It’s that season of the year when the bridal magazines weigh more than the brides themselves, and four-year-olds like my daughter flip through the pages as they dream of their own Cinderella wedding.

Ironically, as a young girl I never dreamed of a Prince Charming sweeping me off my feet as he professed his undying love for me. I pictured myself more like Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music,” except that I wanted to stay in the convent, and preferred to keep a safe distance from a bunch of singing kids.

One of my first conversations with my husband, Eric, went like this:

Eric: “What do you see yourself doing in like five years?”

Me: “Feeding a bunch of hungry kids in a third-world country as a missionary. I want to join the convent.”

Eric: “Oh. That’s interesting.”

Why he asked me out after that still baffles me. All I can think of is that maybe he knew more about the vocation of marriage in his 20s than I did.

Because I mistakenly thought that in order to do good in this world you needed to join the religious orders. I categorized “marriage” in that secular place that everything average and dull and normal went, the classification of people who had no “real vocation.”

Now, having been married 12 years, I take back my black-and-white thinking regarding married life (and practically everything else) of my goody-two-shoes days. Because the vocation of marriage is anything but boring. And it is sacred. We are just as holy as the folks who have professed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In fact, “poverty, chastity, and obedience” is a fitting description for marriage on some days.

In his 1987 pastoral visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II said: “The bond that unites a family is not only a matter of natural kinship or a shared life and experience. It is essentially a holy and religious bond. Marriage and the family are sacred realities.”

Most of my married friends appreciate the truth of these words after they’ve been through a family crisis: when a family member is sick or dies, or something else substantial happens. In my life that happened three years ago when I fell very ill and stayed ill for close to two years. The stress in our household challenged our vows more so than at any other time. And I realized why the promises we exchanged on our wedding day were so holy: only God can keep together two persons torn in several different directions, who can so easily get distracted.

A friend of mine once told me that a marriage is like a braid of three strings. God is the third string, and without His presence in your marriage, the two strings can easily split.

That’s no fairy tale, unfortunately. It’s not as easy as Prince Charming showing up on his noble steed. There is no happily ever after without lots of work and even more prayer. And yet, when a couple involves God and stays committed to their nuptial vows, the vocation of marriage is, indeed, very sacred.

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  • Laura

    Therese –
    Thank you for your post today. May I add a thought? The sacredness of marriage truly made itself known to me when I divorced. I was only 27 and had only been married two years, but the sting was incredible. I had made a promise before god that I meant with every fiber of my being. To have the promise broken by one I trusted, who had also made his promise before god, was nearly a knockout punch. But perhaps more important for me was to see the ways that I did not treat my marriage as vocation. I learned a humbling, powerful lesson about marraiges that do work. I lost much of my faith as a result of that event. I have been working for the past year and a half to rebuild my faith, and have much more to learn. But I know that I wish to marry again, to take up that vocation with even more devotion and love, and hopefully, with the grace of god.

  • Dawnspromise

    I will be married this July for 23 years. No one thought we would make it. Looking back I can’t blame them. We were both in the military (constant stress and seperations) and both very young. I was 19 he was 22. We knew each other for 6 months and decided to get married. We would of waited longer but the army was sending him to one side of the globe and me to another. Marriage was our only way of staying together. We were both so poor we didnt have money for a car seat to take our first born home from the hospital. I asked the hospital social worker for help and she found one for us to borrow.
    We had no family for support so it was us against the world. Or so it felt in the begining.
    Never having being brought up in faith I found myself weeping overwhelmed with my second preganacy and 15 month old in the post chapel. It was the Holy Spirit who brought me there and ultimately to my conversion.
    My husband and I have no doubt whatsoever that God has been in our corner during these many years of both joy and struggle. We shouldn’t of made it considering the odds however Our Lord, luckily for us, doesn’t play the odds. =) I still smile in awe everytime my now retired husband comes home…I am still in love with my best friend!

  • Barbara Bowman

    Happy anniversary Therese and Eric! May you have many more to celebrate!

  • http://blog.maryandme.org Ginny

    Amen to all of this.
    Two days before our wedding (almost seven years ago now), my husband was playing pool with his best man, who already had several years of marriage under his belt. My husband asked him for advice about marriage, and John said, “Just remember that love isn’t always a feeling. Sometimes, it’s a verb. You make the decision to act in a loving way even if you aren’t FEELING love at that particular moment.”
    Honestly, I think that’s some of the best advice I’ve ever heard.
    Congratulations on your wedding anniversary!

  • Delores

    marriage instituted by God IS A BLESSED union

  • Your Name

    My wedding was held in a Municipal Hall on a neighbor town from my
    place,it was instituted by a City judge in that area.It was the most
    simple and humble wedding anyone may have.Simple and humble as it was
    on those times,i still felt the same joy and happiness as any bride
    can feel,and to add the event happiness, i am two more weeks due to our first child.It was January of 2002 when i had my wedding day,and
    i can say that it’s been lean years since i’ve been married until now.
    We were blessed 4 girls and as a mother,i am doing my best to raise
    them as God will be my provider to all of their needs,my husband is
    helping me out taking care of them.No matter how hard is a marriage life,God provided all the strength and grace to carry on,especially
    when it comes to children raising.I always cling to prayers everyday of my life to God for my petition and thanksgiving.

  • Butterfly

    I’ve been married 14months now and it has been such a struggle. I feel like the lack of support and hope from others is a sign that this won’t last. My husband is just not interested in me. I love him and I do everything I can to be noticed and loved by him. I’ve been rejected by others in my past so often that I was excited someone finally loved me enough to marry me. But now I wish I knew what I could do better.

  • Marie

    make yourself happy first, don’t look for his approval or attention, he may or may not come around, but be less needy and see what happens, show interest in him but if it’s not mutual, what’s the use of being married? That’s why people stray, they think the “other” person is all that, it’s not, life is good, it’s regular, fireworks don’t last forever, get over the fantasy, be happy with simple pleasures. Good luck

  • Tonya

    My husband and I have always believed that God put us together and we put Him first for that. We both met at extreme times in our lives when we were really trying to move on from difficult times. Odd, but it certainly was God. We’ve been together for nine years now, of that, eight married and boy, is it a journey. Like you, Therese, I was never one of those girls gushing over bride magazines and in college, looking for a husband was one of the furthest things from my mind. I just wanted to make my mark in the world. Well, with two kids and my partner, I’m doing it with them. Best wishes on your anniversary!

  • Your Name

    I have been married for 23 years now and for the past five years we have been struggling and just the past two years i have caught him and forgave him for having an affair thru email with 3 women what am i to do

  • SuzanneWA

    HAPPY 13TH ANNIVERSARY, Therese!! You are half-way to the number of years I would have been married to my beloved first husband – 26!! He died after 5 years of marriage, and he tried to make a “farm wife” out of this “city girl!” I can remember clearly, my Mom saying to me as I left for my honeymoon: “Be kind to each other.” And that STAYED with me. My husband, who was a lay leader in our Church, and I, prayed together daily; I guess with love and the Lord, you can overcome any obstacle.

  • LORETTA KEETON

    WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW TO SPICE UP MY MARRIAGE

  • V

    I read your words feeling hopeful. My husband and I have been married less than a year. While we are facing financial difficulty, without each other both of us would have lost our minds (and perhaps more) by now. In truth, together it’s easier to know that there are more important things in life.
    Keeping our marriage together has been the least challenging of our trials.
    It is interesting that you mentioned the holy orders; my husband was giving that direction serious consideration not long before we got together.
    I did not know this, but was having dreams about him in a church, wearing a clerical collar and crying in despair when he saw me. I had apparently just told him that I was available.
    That dream prompted me to ask him out…
    …and we’ve been happy ever sense. I do feel guilty sometimes because I know that he would have done very well as a priest. I’m selfish enough to be glad I have him all to my self. :)

  • Danielle Cavallucci

    Good morning & thank you, Therese. Having returned to church recently after a long hiatus and much struggle with the church itself, I began to realize that the loss and pain associated with my divorce several years ago was partially rooted in the fact that we never actually received the blessings of a religious marriage. Both Catholic, we married in an unconventional ceremony on some Hawaiian beach, and expected to make it without God at an age that was far too young…
    Next time, if there is one, we’ll invite God into the mix!!
    Thanks so much for sharing your heart-baring bits with us.
    Danielle

  • SicPlurisPoenaPrastantia

    Yeah, too bad God doesn’t tell men up front about “trash night”. Might be a lot fewer marriages that way.

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