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Holy Spirit Interactive: Fr. Peter deSousa: A marriage is for a lifetime

A wedding is for a day, but a marriage is for a lifetime

by Fr. Peter deSousa

Most people put a lot of time, money and energy into preparing for a wedding. What will we wear? What will we eat? What music will we play? Where will we hold the reception? The day comes and goes. What remains? Only beautiful memories and photographs.

Marriage however is for a life time of wedding days. Man and woman are called to be bride and bridegroom to each other everyday until death do them part. They enter into a solemn covenant on their wedding day to love and respect each other, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, in riches and poverty. Will they honour it?

It is God who calls and chooses them for this holy vocation of matrimony and provides them the grace to be channels of his love and life to each other, in word and deed. He is the silent third party in this covenant relationship. If couples are aware of his presence and grace, whatever the circumstances they face, they will receive the necessary help to love and cherish each other.

Through living God's plan for their marriage, couples become holy and witness as disciples of Jesus to their children and neighbours. Holiness however is not by throwing holy water on each other to exorcise the other's weaknesses. Witnessing is not shown through preaching or moralising. Discipleship is not to prove one's spiritual superiority. Nor does one have to act the martyr. A couple does not always have to agree about everything. Spouses may often feel upset, hurt, angry or impatient with each other? Surely Jesus himself being human, did not always find it easy to love his own disciples.

After a few weeks or months of living together, when their expectations are not met and a husband and wife become aware of each other's failings and weaknesses, they may feel disillusioned. You may be upset at your own lack of patience or tolerance. What was attractive in your spouse, now gets on your nerves. Work, friends, children, even prayer meetings can be good escapes from each other. Can I find satisfaction by myself without my spouse, as a married single? Disillusionment leads to misery. Well meaning family and friends help to put asunder what God has joined together by siding with their child against the spouse.

Some spouses do not even quarrel but act cold and distant, living like strangers in the same house. When they stop touching, they get out of touch with each other.

Spouses need to make time to listen and to share deeply with each other. They need to resolve conflicts and be enriched by their differences. They need to pray together for the grace to love.

Man and Woman are different and compliment each other by their differences. Differences in age, culture, family backgrounds, life experiences, customs, expectations and values could enrich or could drive a couple further apart. The more different two people are, the greater the degree of flexibility required to adjust.

A person who is rigid, closed and unwilling to change should marry someone from a similar background. There will be less adjustments. Every marriage has to face ups and downs ... sickness, financial problems, unexpected pregnancies, unemployment, hurts, losses, misunderstandings, failures, transfers are part and parcel of everyone' life. When a couple stop praying together and lose sight of Jesus' presence in their relationship, they begin to nag, manipulate, blame, act defensive, superior, cold or indifferent to each other.

But Jesus invites them to forgive each other, to enter into each other's world to listen, understand, comfort, appreciate and heal each other. Beginning again after a quarrel, refreshes the marriage and helps them to be channels of his love to one another.

A man and woman are sexual in their relationship. They are male or female in every aspect of their personality and behaviour, which is why they got married. Through word and touch, they reach out to express their love and need for each other. This is the way God created them so that they would be help-mates and companions to each other. Even after the child -bearing age, after menopause and in old age, they still need to express their conjugal love for each other. This is the way God comes to love, understand, comfort, forgive, heal and unite them.

Man and woman are called to be in communion with each other and to be life giving to each other. They could also be death dealing when they act sarcastic, rude, violent, abusive, cold, suspicious, jealous and indifferent to each other. God's call is for the two to become one flesh. A loving couple is the best antidote to a broken and divided world. Love is at the service of life and the love of husband and wife is personified and expressed in a child, conceived and nurtured through the conjugal love.

God gives couples the privilege to be co-creators with him. He respects their decision to plan a family consciously. When couples become aware of their fertility cycle, they can choose to space a family. But even in times of abstinence, they are called to love and reach out to each other, as couples do before marriage.

It is not always easy to be a disciple of Jesus for single or married folk. Joy is not an absence of suffering but the presence of God. A couple may experience suffering and sacrifice and can still be joyful as they share God' love with each other and their children.

Marriage is a school of discipleship. Jesus invites married couples to love one another as he loves them. He asks them to take up their cross daily and follow him. He walks with them and is always there to strengthen, comfort, forgive and heal them through each other.

So it is important to walk humbly with Jesus and to allow him to make yours his hands and voice to each other. He has no other hands but yours to touch, heal and bring each other to life. He has no other voice to love, affirm and comfort each other. Yes he is with you on your journey through a life time of wedding days.

Fr. Peter deSousa (May 16, 2004)

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