There’s a real beauty to the cycle of life. Some are at the point where their friends are retiring, others, where they’re reaching the peaks of their professional careers. I’m in the time in my life when all my friends are getting married and having kids. It’s so common, that sometimes the excitement can be lost on me, but I’m working hard not to be complacent to this exciting time. When everything is exciting, it’s easy for my little heart to take it all for granted.
I remember how excited I was to get married. I remember how I felt like there was nothing else in the world that could make me happier than to spend the rest of my life with my wife. There is a passion and energy that is so unforgettable about those times.
Now that a few years have passed, there’s a depth and richness to our love that can only come with time. Although, if I’m being completely honest, there are many times that this love doesn’t feel nearly as exciting as that love felt when it was new. This is where it can become so tempting to become convinced that it’s not as good as it was before.
Marriage is not an end, and unlike many fairy tales, it is not a happily ever after. Marriage isn’t happiness, but happiness can come from living out marriage for a purpose beyond itself. From personal experience, I know how easy it is to feel like the relationship is broken when you stop trying and working at love. It takes constant reminders that love goes beyond ever-changing emotions.
There have been many times when I’ve been so distracted by the little annoyances or disagreements that it’s easy to become convinced that things are falling apart. Sometimes, there are those Jonah moments when everything blows up and suddenly you feel a heartbreak so deep that it’s hard to see how you can make it through. It feels like it is almost enough to temporarily forget the incredible highs and happiness we share.
It takes no effort to stay down in the valley of faith and love, but the climb up the mountain is what our hearts were created to do.
“Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light. We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love.” –Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
I’ve learned how much wisdom is in the wording of the Catholic wedding vows.
“I take you, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
When everything is good, surrounded by friends and family, and with representative of Christ present, we acknowledge that love will have its ups and downs, but through it all, we promise to be faithful. It would be a lot easier to ignore the vows if you do them in private, and even easier to walk away if there was never a vow to hold you accountable.
Marriage brings out the worst and the best in us because our spouse sees all of it, the good, the bad, the fun and the struggle. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but it’s also where the secret of the sauce can be found. A spouse is a partner in the pursuit of heaven. The intimate knowledge of each other helps to navigate the path to holiness, but it takes plenty of humility to be able to accept the help.
Talking about the suffering and sacrifice needed to love never sounds fun. Even more so when we talk about the needed death to self, but as Christians we remember that the death of Good Friday is the prerequisite of the glorious resurrection of Easter Sunday.
I know that I still have a lot of work to do at becoming a better husband, in fact there is a struggle somehow everyday. Thankfully my promise to be true didn’t include a clause requiring perfection. Like it is with my relationship with God, the struggles often come when I’m taking love for granted.
My forgetful heart may forget a lot of things, but I’m grateful for the vows that are there as a constant. A living reminder of the vows the Groom made to the Church as His bride. May the Lord strengthen all of us in our commitment and expression of those vows.