Marriage Thoughts From the Cutting Room Floor

by danlord4444 on October 22, 2013

Link CuttingSometimes things just don’t make the final cut of a project.

There is a book on marriage coming out at some point in the not-too-distant future, published by OSV, to which Hallie and I have contributed a chapter. The following is a section that ended up on the chopping block, and I thought you might either 1) enjoy it, or, 2) exclaim loudly: “Thanks be to Almighty God they didn’t print THAT gangrenous blob of mummery!”

So, here it is, fresh out of my computer’s trash bin:

The assignment for this chapter was to provide some hope for married people. One cause for hopelessness may lie in these facts: the supernatural grace given in the Sacrament of Marriage exists in union with everyday life; the latter is visible, the former is invisible; the latter is prosaic, the former is profound; the latter is frustrating and cruel, the former is the life of God breathing peace and charity. These are opposite things. Only God knows how to weave them together so that the latter is taken up into the former and perfected—how can we regular folk, who are year in and year out writhing in pain to bring forth children or toiling with sweaty faces to coax thorn-covered crops from the cursed ground, be expected to worthily live the vocation of marriage that God gives to us?

There are great practical how-to tips out there. There is good advice galore. There are wise friends and relatives to lean on. There are brilliant books, savvy articles, prayers, popes and saints, all of who and of which we should avail ourselves until death do we part. But here is what really makes a Christian marriage work: Christ. Jesus must be the center.

There really is no substitute for Him. “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk  14).

Jesus clearly appreciated the hyperbolic idioms of his people. He didn’t mean literally ‘hate’ anyone, the way a person hates Nazism. He just means put him in the center. Love him more than anything. Even when you are holding your newborn baby in your arms, give him back to God: “Lord, I thank you for giving me this amazing gift…” He will give that baby right back to you, because that’s where he intends for him to be, but if you try to claim your children entirely as your own, and then think that they can satisfy your soul entirely—as wonderful and precious as they are—you will end up unhappy. If I say, “I will give everything I have to my family,” in the end, I won’t. I can’t. Jesus must be the center, first, and then I will be able to be the spouse and parent God wants me to be.

That’s the primary ingredient in a successful Christian marriage: Jesus. We are made for him. There are no substitutes.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Hallie @ Moxie Wife October 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

You mean I’m not the primary ingredient in our successful marriage?

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Mrs. K October 22, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Great article. I couldn’t agree more. We are having a parish marriage retreat in December so in preparation for the priests’ talks, I’m going to send this post to them.

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Samantha October 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm

You have such a way with words. Thank you for this!

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Bernard November 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm

umm.. At what point do you discern that your marriage is legitimately “non-sacramental”; and therefore lacking the actual grace required for it to survive? Some people enter marriage for very poor reasons. I had a girlfriend die in an auto accident, and married a women who “looked” like she did, but had OCD, among other things. My now ex-wife, whom I haven’t lived with for 19 years, is on a psychological disability pension.

I’ll spare you the details, but I have an annulment.

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danlord4444 November 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Hello Bernard! Man, sounds like a very tough time. It sounds like ultimately you handled things very well, though. The assumption should be that a marriage is valid and sacramental, of course, but thank God we can submit judgment to the Church when that validity needs to be examined. Lots and LOTS of people out there today end up entering into marriages for flawed reasons, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the marriage was never truly valid but can possibly mean that. For anybody going through something like what Bernard went through, I say: just submit everything to the will of the Holy Spirit as expressed through the Church, however difficult it may be. God bless, – Dan

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