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Engaged Couples Talk As long as the wedding cake lasts the man will be infatuated. But afterwards he will come to himself and say: “That foolish woman wishes to be the master.” And then the squabbling will begin at home. -Vincent Ferrer, sermon Thomas More's advice to those married or engaged Here Thomas More provides some excellent advice and guidance for holiness in love and marriage: “Saint Paul here exhorteth men to love their wives, so tenderly that they should be of the mind, that to bring them to heaven they could find in their hearts to die for them, as Christ hath died for Christian people to bring them to heaven, and that men, to that intent that they may bring their wives to the glorious bliss of heaven, should here bring them well up in faith, in hope, and charity, and in good works, like as God hath washed his Church of all Christian people.” (Complete works of St Thomas More, New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1973, bk, 8, pp 851-52). More tells us some advice for those interested in marriage: “And so, my friend, if you desire to marry, first observe what kind of parents the lady has. See to it that her mother is revered for the excellence of her character which is sucked in and expressed by her tender and impressionable little girl. Next, see to this: what sort of personality she has: how agreeable she is. Let her maidenly countenance be calm and without severity. But let her modesty bring blushes to her cheeks… Let her glances be restrained; let her have no roving eye… Let her be either just finishing her education or ready to begin it immediately… Armed with this learning, she would not yield to pride in prosperity, nor to grief in distress – even though misfortune strike her down.” (To Candidus: how to choose a wife, poem number 143. Complete works of St Thomas More, 3/2:185-7). The secret to a happy marriage A couple was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. Their domestic tranquillity had long been the talk of the town. "What a peaceful & loving couple!" A local newspaper reporter was inquiring as to the secret of their long and happy marriage. "Well, it dates back to our honeymoon," explained the man. "We visited the Grand Canyon and took a trip down to the bottom on the canyon by horse. We hadn't gone too far when my wife's horse stumbled. My wife quietly said, 'That's once'." "We proceeded a little further and the horse stumbled again. Once more my wife quietly said, 'That's twice.' "We hadn't gone a half-mile when the horse stumbled the third time. My wife quietly removed a revolver from her purse and shot the horse dead." I started an angry protest over her treatment to the horse, while I was shouting; She looked at me, and quietly said, 'That's once'. "And we lived happily ever after." The importance of family Family is important to God. He has a unique plan and purpose for every family. The best way to discover what that plan entails is to put Jesus at the centre of our family life. John Paul II said that “God’s purpose for family is that it be a school of love, it be an environment where different members of the family can love and be loved by another.”
Gary Chapman wrote a book called the 5 love languages. In this book it shows how there are 5 different ways of showing love. Each one of these ways is good in and of itself, but in order for a family to truly grow together, all five of them should be present in some form.These 5 ways are: 1. Quality family time. This is time for full and undivided attention. It can be both serious and fun. It might include meals, prayers and outings. 2. Positive speech such as verbal compliments, affirmations, appreciations are powerful communicators of love. These bring honour, respect and acceptance. Frequent putdowns such as sarcasm can bring pain and self doubt. Forgiveness helps to avoid tension. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ and I forgive you are very useful. Politeness is also very useful and indispensable for making living together easier. 3. Gifts are a visible symbols of love. The thought behind the gift is most important. The gift of faith is the greatest gift we can give one another. It is free and will last an eternity. The Magi bring Jesus gifts at his birth: Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Who knows what Jesus would have done with these gifts? Gifts are not a substitute or replacement for other ways of showing love. 4. Physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Hugs, pats on the back, hand on a shoulder or other more intimate expressions are ways to show that we care for each other. 5. Service. Jesus said that he came to serve and not to be served. He washed the feet of his disciples to show how far he was willing to be a servant. Service is doing something you don’t want to do in order to make life easier for someone else. Good communication in relationships According to Father Father Michael Ryan the positive moments and comments in a relationship such as a marriage should outnumber the negative times by about 5 to 1. Our capacity to tolerate negativity has a very short fuse. In his book, “The last straw: ways to overcome the stumbling blocks in communication towards a stronger and happier marriage,” He states that we must avoid hurting others in every way such as with words or actions. Then we must also foster an atmosphere in which one can express the other what is hurting. Then we must also accept the fact that we can hurt others when we don’t intend to. He states that a happy marriage has the following character traits: the couple spends quality and quantity time together, they know how to express affection for each other, they show commitment to family life, they can discuss in a constructive way and they share spiritual values. Sometimes marriages can break up because of misunderstandings that could have been avoided. To look for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of wisdom. Saving your marriage before it starts Dr Les and Leslie Parrott have written a wonderful tiny book called saving your marriage before it starts. It contains some wonderful insights into marital relationships by experienced marriage counsellors. It challenges many myths about marriage such as expecting the same things from marriage, that everything good in the relationship will get better, everything bad will disappear and that a spouse will make you whole. It states how passion, intimacy and commitment create different forms of love styles such as romantic, foolish or companionable love. They describe different stages of a
relationship such as romance, power struggle, cooperation, mutuality and co-creativity. They also describe how it is important to cultivate passion, intimacy and commitment to create a habit of happiness. Self pity, blame and resentment can easily sabotage a happy marriage. Placating, blaming, computing and distracting are poor ways of communication. Good communication happens with warmth, genuineness and empathy. It is also necessary to apologize when necessary, listen with empathy, understand the differences between men and women and make 'I' statements instead of 'you' statements. Communication through touch is also useful. Criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling are ways in which relationships can be seriously damaged. What to do kit when marriage becomes difficult Inspired by Fulton Sheen's: What every couple should know about marriage and prayer. What do you do when marriage dulls or when the other partner becomes impossible? Everything in life dulls after a time. The eye becomes used to beauty, we become used to intimacy. The intimacy which at first was so desirable, can become at times a burden. When bills start coming into the kitchen, love can walk out of the parlour. The habit of love becomes boring, there is a yearning for a new partner, and children brings potential accidents and diseases. This brings down the vision of marriage and the affective life is faced with this question: Is love a snare: why is marriage not complete happiness? The heart is made for the infinite, only the infinite can satisfy. Love is a gift, and it comes from heaven. Only working towards heaven can it ever be discovered to be infinite. Emptiness does not come from the other partner . When marriage becomes dull, you have not hit the bottom of one's life: you have hit the bottom of your ego. This is not the bottom of the mind, but the bottom of the emotional life. This is love as the ego thinks it is, not love as it really is. Love is something that God gives us as a kind of bait so that we might seek the flame which is God. This life is only the bridge to eternity. Just as there is a dark night of the soul, there is a dark night of the body. This is when God is stirring the waters of the soul. He is reminding us about the perfect love for which we crave and are on the road to. The dryness of love without God is a dryness which ripens when one goes through the fire and heat of sacrifice. The cross is not a roadblock on the way to happiness, but a ladder one climbs to heaven itself. If you intensify your love of God, love will not be dull. Every human creature is bathed in the beauty of God's love. What are we to do when marriage (for better for worse) becomes with a chronic invalid, an antiscocial, cruel, unfaithful, tyrant or bossy spouse? Always view the other person as a gift of God. If we are selfish we get rid of the other person because they are a burden. But we should take on the burden as something coming from God himself. When we bear each other's failing then you are fulfilling the love of God. The man who loses his life will secure it. We would all like tailor made crosses, but when God chooses it, you cannot take that cross. What sickness is to an individual, an unhappy marriage is something that God might send to a couple meaning that marriage might be a martyrdom. This is not robbing the soul of peace, or a sentence to death as some believe. A soldier is not sentenced to death who goes to fight for his country. It is noble to be wounded for the love of God. St Paul's epistle to the Corinthians states that an unbelieving husband can be sanctified by the other. With suffering, patience and uniqueness one passes into the other. If there can be a transfusion of blood from the healthy to the sick, why not a transfer of sanctification? A wife can redeem the husband and vice versa. The merits of one can pass onto the merits of another. If one has a moral heart attack, should he be abandoned? Once upon a time, there was a good Catholic girl who married an unbelieving doctor, who was an
editor of an anticlerical athiestic magazine in Paris. She built up a library of apologetics, while he built up an athiestic library in the house. The wife said, “Felix, when I am dead, you will become a Catholic and Dominican Priest.” He stated that he had always lived in hatred of the Church, and would die in hatred of it. She passed away and he discovered some of her writings. He found her will. In 1905, she asked God to send her sufficient sufferings to purchase her soul, so that on the day she died, he would be bought and paid for. Greater love have no one that they lie down their life for their spouse. What is the point of marriage? In his great book, Marriage and the mystery of faithful love, Von Hildebrand discusses the nature of conjugal love. He believes it requires a decision, a risk and self giving. The lover cares more for his beloved than for his own life. A marriage is made in the decision of the two persons. The only authentic reason for this is mutual love and a belief that the commitment will lead to the eternal welfare of both spouses. Marriage invites us to fight selfishness. Couples are called to save the precious gift of their love by victory over self. He who refuses to commit fools himself. A trial marriage is a stupidity of ‘unspeakable shabbiness.’ Dietrich von Hildebrand stated that procreation was the primary end of marriage, while love was its meaning. Wedded love, he says, is what ‘ennobles sex,’ which seems to be saying that, if procreation is the final cause of marriage, married love is its formal cause. To be in a marriage is to be a guardian of the other person's solitude. When a couple marries they find that, although they may not be aware of them, there is a series of sequential psychological tasks to address together. Achieving these tasks helps the couple to deal with the inevitable major changes - accidental or developmental - that will occur and that have the potential for weakening or re-enforcing the relationship throughout the marriage. Marriage helps us to overcome being selfish, self absorbed hedonists by opening us to others by mutual aid and self giving. Erotic love poetry in the Bible: Song of songs St Thomas Aquinas asked to have the book of song of songs read to him on his death bed. It is a book which contains erotic love poetry. Many rabbis in years past were not allowed to read the material in fear that it might offend their ears. The book starts with a yearning for an embrace: “O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!” (1:1). The writing oozes with scintillating analogies, similes and cravings as the author is ‘sick with love.’ (2:5). The imagery of love is vivid and alive as the writer proclaims: “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag,” (2:9) and “Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead.” (4:1). The author’s heart is ravished (4:9) for the sake of his beloved, whom he also calls a sister and bride. The author lovingly describes his lover’s anatomy in a litany of praise, “Your neck is like an ivory tower, your rounded thighs are like jewels.” (7:4, 1). For those who are reluctant to read the Bible because they perceive it to be boring, this book is the perfect introduction! Man's sperm good for a woman's body One of the best arguments against barrier forms of contraception is a man’s semen offers protection against preeclampsia. This is the third leading cause of woman dying during childbirth. Preeclampsia affects about 7% of pregnant women. Women who are not exposed to a partner’s sperm prior to pregnancy because the couple used condoms risk this problem. When the uterus is repeatedly exposed to sperm, a woman’s immune system gets used to this “foreign” genetic
material. Women can have an immune reaction if they do not have prior exposure. Women who used barrier methods who had been having sex with their partners for less than 4 months prior to getting pregnant had a 6.5 fold increased risk of getting preeclampsia, compared with those who did not use barrier methods and who had been in a sexual relationship for more than 12 months. Jesus said in the Gospel that in marriage the two become on flesh (Mark 10:6-9). Hormones from the man can be detected in a woman’s blood stream within hours of intercourse (Archives of sexual behaviour, Volume 31, Number 3, pp 289-293, by G.G. Gallup Jr: R.L. Burch; S.M. Patek). According to Reuters in London (2002), hormones in semen have been shown to make women feel good. Women whose partners don’t use condoms are less likely to feel down. Hormones in semen may help to ease female depression. Scientists at the State University of New York suspect that the mood altering hormones are absorbed through the vagina and make women feel good. Sperm is good for a woman’s body. Man’s seminal fluid has at least two dozen ingredients, such as estrogens, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone, transforming growth beta-factor, and several different prostaglandins. During intercourse, the woman's body absorbs these. Researchers have shown how they help the health of the woman, help mature her uterus and even protect the mammary gland from cancer. A woman’s body becomes used to the man’s sperm. What John Paul Said about marriage JP2 said that it was possible for a man to commit adultery against his own wife. This was far outside the traditional understanding of adultery. This is in line with Jesus, who said that anyone who looked at a woman lustfully committed adultery with his own heart. JP2 decided with the restoration of the Sistine Chapel that the original version of naked Adam should be shown as Michelangelo intended. Several hundred years ago a Vatican official had decided to cover up Adam’s nakedness with by the use of a painted leaf. JP2 decided to return to the original as purity is the glory of the human body before God. Before he was Pope, the then Karol Wojtyla said in the book, Love and responsibility that men must take into account that sexual climax should be reached in harmony, rather than just the man alone. As arousal in a woman rises and falls more slowly, a man must take this into account to avoid selfishness Pope John Paul II said that if a husband is to truly love his wife, he should not allow intercourse merely allow to serve his climax. He must take the difference between the sexes into account. He should attempt the climax to occur simultaneously. This should not be for hedonistic reasons, but for altruistic reasons. Men have a shorter and more violent arousal, for this reason an act of virtue is required for patience and self giving in the sexual act. Sexual arousal in a woman is more slow. It is a virtuous act to contain your own climax to help bring your own wife to a simultaneous climax. It is possible to seek pleasure of the other for altruistic reasons in service. This is a more and more accurate symbol of the eternal joys that are to come in heaven. Marriage: Marriage is about wanting heaven for those that we love. God showers his graces upon us in marriage. Go to sacrament of reconciliation before marriage. The vows of marriage are free, total,
faithful and fruitful. Body speaks of the mystery of God. St Paul tells us to, “Gird your loins with the truth.” “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” John Paul II said, “God's purpose for the family is that it be a school of love, it be an environment where different members of the family can love and be loved by others.” God wants to be number one in our lives. Wife is number two. I am number three. Some spend 500 hours on preparing the day of the wedding, and just 4 marriage preparation sessions. Divorce rate: 40% for couples using contraception, 2% for couples using Natural Fertility Awareness. The sacramentality of marriage Marriage is a covenant of grace. We can see in the sacramentality of marriage a total vision of the human being. Ephesians 5 is a key and classic text where the meaning of universe is contained. We see the greatness and dignity that God has bestowed on our bodies. This passage is a crowning theme of themes. There is a clash between how the world sees Ephesians 5 and how the Church sees Ephesians 5. The passage is a great mystery of spiritual warfare. It is a call to take up arms in a great spiritual battle. St Paul calls us to gird your loins with the truth. God has a salvific plan for humanity. Ephesian 5 is a compendium or summa in the teaching about God and man brought to fulfilment in Christ. It makes man aware of his supreme calling. It is a central theme in the whole of reality. Ephesians 5 reminds us that Christ fully reveals man to himself. We can try to understand how much richness in truth is contained in the scope of this wonderful passage. It is the meeting of divine mystery with the vocation to marriage. The logic of this marvellous text frees our way of thinking, and it does not devalue the thinking of the body or sex. Carnal love is meant to express the language of Agape. So many people contrast the language of Eros and agape. The nuptial meaning of the body is also the meaning of God's love. Eros is meant to be transformed by the carnal love of agape. The carnal union of spouses leads to agape. In Ephesians 5 we have a head and body analogy. A husband is the head of the wife. Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself. In heaven there is one Christ loving himself. We are Christ's body. Christ is the head and we are the body. The husband is the image of the head and the wife the body. Headship is not about domination as this is not what St Paul was getting at. Headship must not be like the gentiles who Lord it over their subjects. The master must be servant of all. Only the husband who is servant of his wife can claim authority. The husband and wife become one person, one subject without blurring individuality. There is perfect unity and perfect distinction. The husband and wife are lost and absorbed in another. The head and body analogy is of the bride and groom. The wife is a symbol of the Church. God loves us first. Our love of God is always a response to his love. But no husband is perfect like Christ. The nature of marriage makes it similar to the marriage of Christ and the Church. The analogy of an earthly spousal analogy is inadequate, but perhaps it is the least inadequate analogy we have. It helps us to penetrate the very essence of the mystery. Some people are critical of Pope John Paul's hypernuptialism. There are other ways to explain how God loves us. But Christ did not become incarnate as a vine or shepherd but as a bridegroom. The relationship between shepherd and sheep is not a sacrament. The spousal analogy is very efficacious in putting us in reality with the splendour of God's love. Ephesians 5 is illuminated by the supernatural life. It helps us to understand the meaning of the body, masculinity and femininity.
The passage that claims that wives should submit to their husbands has sometimes led to a feminist revolt. This is entirely understandable if we deny the git. This would make God a tyrant. If man, who is meant to image God, is also a tyrant, women are justified in saying I will not be dominated by your sin. Male domination is something that has marked human history with sin. St Paul is in no way justifying sin. He is calling men in particular to ensure the balance of the gift. He is calling man back to be the original man. St Paul calls married couples to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. To be subject to one's spouse means to be mutually given. It means mutual subjection. It is the reciprocal donation of self. Christ is the profound and mature model of subjection. St Paul outlines how there is a difference between male and female. Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. This means they cannot treat them like doormats! Christ came not to be served but to serve, and lay his life down for his bridegroom. Wives should allow their husbands to serve them. The deepest desire of the human heart is to be loved in this way. To be afraid of the word submission is to miss its evangelical genius. Submission means to be under the mission sent with authority to give a particular service. St Paul called for Christians not to live as the Gentiles do. He called for Christians to be renewed in the spirit of their minds, calling them back to the original image. He was trying to restore original man. The husband is above all he who loves, the image of he who loves. The wife is she who is loved. Men can come to see their wives as an image of the Church. The attraction for a woman should be not to grasp her, possess her but to bless her. This blessing is not to lust after her, but to genuflect before her. A woman is part of the living God, the Church. Every woman is a living Church, who can have a living Church dwelling within her body. Whenever you are tempted to lust, remind yourselves that women are made in the image of God and pray to see a woman as an image of the Church. Pope John Paul II said that if a husband is to truly love his wife, he should not allow intercourse merely allow to serve his climax. He must take the difference between the sexes into account. He should attempt the climax to occur simultaneously. This should not be for hedonistic reasons, but for altruistic reasons. Men have a shorter and more violent arousal, for this reason an act of virtue is required for patience and self giving in the sexual act. Sexual arousal in a woman is more slow. It is a virtuous act to contain your own climax to help bring your own wife to a simultaneous climax. It is possible to seek pleasure of the other for altruistic reasons in service. This is a more and more accurate symbol of the eternal joys that are to come in heaven. Physical beauty is a metaphor for holiness. The Church should be holy and without blemish. In today's obsessive search for physical beauty, what we are really looking for is holiness. We must beg God to see other people purely. If husbands cannot see the beauty of their wife, in the midst of her blemishes, you cannot be said to love your wife as Christ loved the Church. Men should not make women try to attain some impossible standard of beauty. A woman's stretchmarks are beautiful because that is where she has said yes to you. We have been lied to time and time again about the meaning of the body in our culture. How many men prefer the fantasy of porn to their own wives, because they have bought into those lies. Christ's redeeming love can go deeper than any of this. We must beg God to see other people purely. Husbands have the challenge to see the beauty of their wives, in the midst of her blemishes, if you cannot see the beauty of the wife, you cannot be said to love your wife as Christ loved the Church. Some people are attached to an impossible striving towards beauty. The great mystery of God is the mystery of the inner trinitarian life. God desires to share his mystery. How does God do it? He does this under the veil of signs and symbols. A sacrament is that
which makes visible the invisible. That which is revealed in Christ was hidden in God in all eternity. The body enters the definition of being a sacrament. God uses the sign to communicate signs. The Catechism says that we need signs to communicate with God. A sacrament consists in the manifesting of signs. We need to proclaim the mystery but also to accomplish the efficacious gift of self. The body is capable of making visible the invisible love of God. We must proclaim the mystery but also accomplish the efficacious gift of self. God helps us to participate in the invisible mystery of love. The incarnation was not merely a response to sin. The incarnation is in the centre of history. We can only understand history and the future in light of the incarnation. Christ is the key and centre of the universe. He is the centre of everything and we are blessed with every spiritual blessing. In the supernatural world of the Father, these plans precede the original plan of man. The Father has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. Marriage is a necessary precursor for us to live in communion with God. The redemption is the source of man's supernatural endowment. The mystery of Christ casts light on creation. From the beginning, God envisages the glory of a new creation in Christ. The incarnation was always part of God's plan. We live in a fallen world. What would happen if we didn't live in a fallen world? This is in the realm of speculative theology. Marriage is an efficacious sign of God's saving plan for us. We see a foreshadowing of Christ's union with the Church. The reality of married life is a sign that sums up the whole mystery of creation. The one flesh union is the oldest sign of the love of God. Ephesians 5 is a summa of the mystery of God and man. The passage is keystone to the meaning of life. The union of man and woman and the union of Christ and the Church is one great sign and one great sacrament. This is the divine plan in the creative world. God's plan of life and love continues despite the effects of sin. The one flesh union is a sign that points towards the meaning of life. It is the mystery of God in all of eternity. God's eternal plan becomes a visible reality through the nuptial union of the spouses. We should not make an icon out of this idol. We are so interested in sex, this is what we see when we untwist the lies about sex. This is why the devil attacks right here. The original grace was lost through original sin. Now we need Sacraments to restore what was lost. All of the sacraments remit sin. Every single human being is longing for union. We have always been looking for something. The sacrament of creation prepares us for union with Christ. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Grace is not only remission for sin, but allows us to have a real relationship with God. All of the sacraments are like marriage, because they are all nuptial and allow us to join to the bridegroom. The entire Christian life, unite us with the nuptial mystery in love of Christ. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the bridegroom and the bride. The man images Christ with his body. This is why only a man can be ordained a priest. The physical confers spiritual reality. The spousal significance of the body is that true authentic nuptial love redeems and heals us. Christ not only redeems us with his body. We share in the work of creation and the work of procreation. The nuptial love share in the work of redemption. A wife's love heals me. It taps into the exacting of who I am. Her love is so genuine she heals me. All woundedness comes from lack of genuine love. Healing can come from a real experience of real authentic love. Marital love is redemptive in Jesus Christ. The goal of married love is to get one another to heaven. We are called to love as God loves. We are wounded because of original sin. Christ is coming into life as bodies. In marriage as for others becomes redemptive. The sign of married life does not happen at the exchange of vows, but at the moment of consummation. The Pope says that really the sign is both. It begins with the exchange of the vows. In conjugal intercourse, marriage then passes into reality what was meant with those vows. Intercourse is where the words of marriage become flesh. All of married life is a sign of Christ's love for the Church. Consummation is an expression of the sign. It is a sign that consummates the sign. Intercourse is the sign of the sign of marriage. All of married life is a gift. This becomes most
evident with the union of one flesh. Sexual intercourse is the very particular expression of this sign. The body is the manifestation of the spirit. This means unity and assumes the reality of the sign. The language of the body means that the body speaks of the mystery of God. Man in his mystery and vocation is called to love as God loves. We cannot express this without God's love. Man and woman are ministers of the sacrament of marriage. They are called to express the meaning of their bodies. The language of the body is meant to proclaim agape: the mystery of God's love. The language of the body is prophetic, because a prophet is one who speaks for God. When the spouses proclaim the language of the body they participate in the prophetic mission of Christ. We must be careful to distinguish between true and false prophets. If we can speak the truth of the body, we can also speak a lie. One can speak lies with the body. Judas gives Jesus a kiss in the garden. Satan is the father of lies. He wants us to speak lies with our bodies. This is precisely the goal of the anti word. He wants us to speak lies with our bodies. We no longer speak lies with our bodies. This is what is at stake with sexual morality. Sexual union is meant to express the words of the body. How healthy would a marriage be if one is continually unfaithful in the marriage vows. If concupiscence causes many errors in the reading of the language of the body, in the sphere of the ethos of redemption there always remains a possibility of changing from converting error to truth. We rediscover true meaning of body and existence. Do not be afraid to leave the lies you have lived. Put them aside. You will be living your true nuptial gift. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Nine tasks of marriage: 1. To detach emotionally from the families of childhood, commit to the relationship, and build new connections with the extended families. 2. To build togetherness through intimacy and to expand the sense of self to include the other, while each individual carves out an area of autonomy. Identification with the other provides the basis for bonding but within the new unity, there must be room for autonomy; otherwise there is no true equality. 3. To expand the circle to include children, taking on the roles of parenthood from infancy to adulthood, while maintaining the emotional richness of the marriage and keeping a balance between raising the children and nurturing the couple's relationship. 4. To confront the inevitable developmental challenges and the unpredictable adversities of life, including illness, death, and natural disasters, in ways that enhance the relationship despite stress and suffering. Every crisis carries within it the seeds of destruction as well as the possibility of renewed strength. 5. To make the relationship safe for expressing difference, anger and conflict, all of which are inevitable in any marriage. All marriages involve love and anger, connectedness and disruption. The task is to find ways to resolve the differences without exploiting each other, being violent, or giving away one's heart's desire. 6. To establish an imaginative and pleasurable sex life. Creating a sexual relationship that meets the needs and fantasies of both people requires time and love and sensitivity. The stresses of work and family life, changes in sexual desire over time, mean that this aspect of the marriage requires special protection in order to flourish. 7. To share laughter and humour and to keep interests outside the marriage alive in the relationship. A good marriage is alternately playful and serious, sometimes flirtatious, sometimes difficult and cranky, but always full of life.
8. To provide the emotional nurturance and encouragement that all adults need throughout their lives, love, sympathy, restoration of battered self-esteem, especially in today's isolating urban communities and high-pressure workplaces, is hugely important to the relationship. 9. To sustain the innermost core of the relationship by holding on to the early idealisations while realising one is growing older, remembering the images and fantasies of courtship and early marriage and maintaining that joyful glow over a lifetime. From 'The Good Marriage' by Judith Wallerstein. What are some of the questions you might ask before getting married? 1. Have we discussed whether we would like a large family or not? 2. Do we have a clear idea of each other’s financial obligations and goals, and do we communicate about spending and saving? 3. Have we discussed our expectations for how the household will be maintained, and are we in agreement how will manage the chores? 4. Have we fully disclosed our health histories, both physical and mental? 5. Is my partner affectionate to the degree I expect? 6. Can we comfortably and openly discuss our sexual needs, preferences and fears? 7. Will there be a television in the bedroom? 8. Do we truly listen to each other and fairly consider one another’s ideas and complaints? 9.Have we reached a clear understanding of each other’s spiritual beliefs and needs, and have we discussed when and how our children will be exposed to religious/moral education? 10. Do we like and respect each other’s friends? 11. Do we value and respect each other’s parents, and is either of us concerned about whether the parents will interfere with the relationship? 12. What does my family do that annoys you? 13. Are there some things that you and I are NOT prepared to give up in the marriage? 14. If one of us were to be offered a career opportunity in a location far from the others’ family, are we prepared to move? 15. Does each of us feel fully confident in the other’s commitment to the marriage and believe that the bond can survive whatever challenges we face? Marriage Quotes Rosemary Ellen Guiley in The Quotable Saint mentions great words of wisdom about marriage from the Saints. Here is some thoughtful words from the tradition of the last twenty centuries. It looks like John Chrysostom and Francis de Sales had considerably deep reflections on marriage. Priests, though not married themselves, can have insights into thousands of marriages and therefore their wisdom and advice on the matter is considerable. John Paul II in the beginning of Love and responsibility mentions this. Husbands and wives should live peacefully in their union of marriage; they should be mutually edifying to each other, pray for one another, bear patiently with one another’s faults, encourage virtue in one another by good example, and follow the holy and sacred rules of their state, remembering that they are the children of the saints and that, consequently, they ought not to behave like pagans, who have not the happiness of knowing the one true God. - John Baptiste marie Vianney, sermon
The wife must love her husband as if there were no other man in the world, in much the same way as the husband should love her as if no other woman existed. - Robert Bellarmine, letter to his niece, 1614 Your wife is God’s creation. If you reproach her, you are not condemning her but Him who made her. - John Chrysostom, homily Husband and wife are equally responsible for the honour of their marriage bed. - John Chrysostom, homily A wife should respect her husband even when he shows her no love, and a husband should love his wife even when she shows him no respect. Then they will both be found to lack nothing, since each has fulfilled the commandment given to him. - John Chrysostom, homily But one’s partner for life, the mother of one’s children, the source of one’s every joy, should never be fettered with fear and threats, but with love and patience. What kid of marriage can there be when the wife is afraid of her husband? What sort of satisfaction could a husband himself have if he lives with his wife as if she were a slave, and not with a woman by her own free will? - John Chrysostom, homily Where chastity and holiness are at stake the husband has no greater privilege than the wife. He is punished equally with her if he breaks the laws of marriage, and with good reason. - John Chrysostom, homily In particular, you must not seek money when you are about to take a bride. You must consider that marriage is not a business venture but a fellowship for life. - John Chrysostom, homily A wife should never nag her husband: “You lazy coward, you have no ambition! Look at our relatives and neighbours; they have plenty of money. Their wives have far more than I do. “Let no wife say any such thing; she is her husband’s body, and it is not for her to dictate to her head, but to submit and obey. -John Chrysostom, homily As long as the wedding cake lasts the man will be infatuated. But afterwards he will come to himself and say: “That foolish woman wishes to be the master.” And then the squabbling will begin at home. -Vincent Ferrer, sermon Marriage is the key to the control of the desires; it is the seal of unshakeable friendship; it is drink from a hidden spring; strangers cannot taste it; it bubbles up yet cannot be drawn from the outside. Those who are united in the flesh form one soul and purify their religion by their reciprocal love. - Gregory of Nazianzus, First poem. It was God who brought Eve to Adam and gave her to him as his wife, and it is God, my friends, who with his invisible hand bound the know which united you and gave you to one another; therefore give good heed that you cherish a love which is holy, sacred and divine. - Francis de Sales, the Devout Life Let married people remain on their cross of obedience, which is in marriage. It is the best and most
practical cross of them and one of the most demanding, in that there is almost continual activity – and occasions of suffering are more frequent in this state than in any other. Do not desire, therefore, to descend from this cross under any pretext whatever. Since God has placed you there, remain there always. - Francis de Sales, Oeuvres If two pieces of wood are carefully glued together, their union will be so close that it is easier to break them in some fresh place than where they were joined; and God so united man and wife, that it is easier to sever soul and body than those two. - Francis de Sales, the Devout Life. For since the bringing of children into the world is the principal end of marriage, to do anything in order to prevent the accomplishment of this end is always mortal sin. - Francis de Sales, the Devout Life There is no union so precious and so fruitful between husband and wife as that of holy devotion, in which they should mutually lead and sustain each other. - Francis de Sales, the Devout Life
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