by Fr. Peter deSousa
A practical way of sustaining a healthy, intimate relationship is to "think team." Before marriage, even though you were part of the family you grew up in, you were finding your own identity as a single man or woman. Your job, your friends, your future, your entertainment, your clothes, your looks, your single satisfaction was to a large extent the criterion by which you made decisions.
When you got married, you entered into an equal, complimentary relationship with your spouse. The two of you became one flesh and started your own family. No doubt, your parents and siblings still need your love and help. But now after God, the two of you are to be first in each other's lives. So all the decisions that you make about your self, your job, your transfer, your promotion, your involvement in sports or parish, should never divide what God has joined together. Your unity as a couple can never be given second place, because that is God's plan for you. "The two shall become one"
Your parents are now his/her parents too after marriage. Show them love and respect. Listen to their advice. But then make your own joint decisions as a couple, after due prayer and consultation. It is hard for some parents to allow their children to leave the nest or be weaned. Some children still want their parents to reassure them and do not give themselves fully to their spouse. "Let no one put asunder what God has joined together" goes for parents too!!
Marriage is a new beginning for a couple. The two of you have to learn how to live in respectful intimacy. This requires great unselfishness and openness. Awareness of the other's need to love and be loved, for respect, autonomy, belonging and a sense of achievement in one's work are not easy lessons to learn. You may hold a responsible position at work and be used to ordering, controlling or manipulating others who have no say and have to submit to your tyranny. But if you bring this attitude home with you, watch out!! Are you influenced by what you read or see on T.V.?
Many magazine articles, novels and movies promote individual satisfaction, at other's expense. "Take charge of your own life. Do not allow others to use you. Pamper your own ego. Be someone important." Advertisements affect the sub conscious through neuro-linguistic programming. How much is all this affecting your relationship at home?
We are living in a world of tremendous change. Promotions, job opportunities, migration, putting children in day care centres because both have to earn to pay the mortgage, one or both partners travelling on duty, can take a heavy toll on marital intimacy and relationships. It is not possible for most people to turn the clock back to the simplicity of life in a village. But at times, one gets sick or there is a serious accident or a loss of employment. There has to be a change of plans. What is best for our relationship as a couple and family now? What is God asking of us in our marriage? What values are important for us now? What values do we want to hand over to our children that will keep them following Jesus?
God has called the two of you to be one. He has a plan for every couple. Will you allow Him to be part of your decision making? He who looks after the lilies of the field and the birds of the air is not going to let you down and treat you shabbily. Maybe your plans are not working out and you are confused because you want to be in control of the situation. I was reading a couple of books : "Amazing Grace" is the title. Matthew Pinto was one of the co-authors. They consist of stories of couples just like you who have had to face trials and difficulties. They were really put to the test. We cannot foresee the future. But their trust in God opened up new vistas they never even dreamed of before.
There are many marriages, where spouses are separated for 11 months of the year because of work. One spouse has to look after the children. The children miss one parent in their growing up years. They miss the intimacy and interaction of their parents. This is not good for them in their own marriages later on. Your unity as a couple is your children's security.
There are many negative forces at work to destroy a marriage and family. Materialism, consumerism, unbridled desire for wealth, status and power, individualism, denial of the existence and need for God, for prayer and sacrifice in order to love, are some of these. A team has to work together and each one must not want the limelight or to use the other as a stooge. Read Philippians 2 vv 1-11.Prayerfully, reflect on this word of God often. What is the Lord asking of you as an individual?
When crowds came around John the Baptist, he told them that Jesus must increase and he must decrease. He was preparing the way for Jesus. Humility in a marriage is essential for it to survive as an equal relationship. Pride, self-sufficiency, a lack of respect for one's spouse, a lack of good communication and co-operation in the home drives people apart.
So dear Couples, please give your unity as a couple utmost priority. Do not settle for a boarding house existence. Be lovers. Touch often because it is so easy to get out of touch with each other. A back rub can be very healing, comforting and healing in a marriage. Try it out. It is so easy for couples of any age. It is a simple way of caressing, comforting, healing, loving, showing your spouse that he/she is very important to you. Offer God your hands to be instruments of his healing love to your spouse.
Pray together as a couple in your own words. Be aware of Abba Father carrying you in his arms. Speak to this loving Father. Praise and thank him. Pour out your hearts to him and ask him to help you. Believe that he will. Take him at his word. Allow him to be part of your marriage. Speak to Jesus who lives in you and unites you through his covenant relationship. He blesses your covenant relationship that mirrors his to the world. Speak to the Holy Spirit who is your indwelling God and is your comforter, healer and teacher. He uses you as husband and wife and as parents to bring his love to one another, in a flesh and blood way.
The Holy Trinity is a team of three persons and you are a team of two persons reflecting their love to the world. THINK TEAM
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