Yes, 35 years of marriage means something
It is not an accident that what happened to me tonight came to pass. I received a tremendous grace from God. I will try to explain it here ...
Last week I brought a book to my adoration hour. I was thoroughly engrossed in it enough to stay awake through my 11pm hour. This week, I planned to bring the same book. When I went to thumb through the books on the shelf I remembered that I had brought the book to work in order to read a few chapters during lunch. That left me feeling somewhat discouraged, but alas I have many books at home I have not read. I grabbed a random one off the shelf ... the topic happened to be marriage.
The book was "Male and Female He Created Them" by Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez. It starts off listing the many offenses against marriage: fornication, adultery, polygamy, sodomy etc. It was a thoroughly distasteful read. It was followed by a more pleasant exposition of the biblical support for the teaching of the Church on marriage. What I found was that I had forgotten there is so much in the Bible that refers to marriage, especially the Old Testament. It is so very clear the way God intended it -- that is, one man, one woman -- until death. My reading continued and as is often usual in my adoration hour, I fell asleep.
Midnight rolled around and I hopped in the car to head home. Immediately God revealed to me the gift of the wedding anniversary of my in-laws. Today is their 35th wedding anniversary. In their marriage I see an image of the faithfulness of God to the covenants He has made with us. For God, His covenant is forever. It is His people who have been unfaithful. His example, however, is one of faithfulness. For those who remain married are also committed to longevity. It is also a gift that my wife and I were able to celebrate it with them, including our children. In reality, the fruit of their marriage eventually resulted in the joy others saw in our children tonight.
The peace that my wife and I have received in our marriage is one that we received from the example of our parents, both having remained married. It is the basic gift of life my wife received from them, as I did from my parents to support the foundation for all that my children will know of life, love and even God. It is also the great gift of handing on the faith that my wife and I have been able to grow in the grace and love of our Lord forever learning new ways to serve each other and God. So while the world may see insanity in the longevity of marriage, what the Christian sees is a great triumph and even more importantly an image of fidelity that points directly to that even more perfect attribute of God towards each of us.
Sacraments, particularly marriage
OK, this is a big work in progress but I am posting the gist of it now anyway
On June 17, 2000 my wife and I were married in a small Episcopal Church. We did a lot of things pretty traditionally. Other standard American marriage traditions we didn't mind so much. One was the way we dealt with taking pictures. We did so before the ceremony. My wife showed up a few minutes after we did but a few hours before our early bird 9:30 am wedding. I still to this day can see her joyous smile peering from the back seat of her mothers car. Her smile was aimed only at me, as if I was the only thing in the world that existed. Another thing we decided to do was make it very clear that our marriage was focused on our relationship with Christ. He was going to be the center of our relationship. We took the opportunity to create a long program for our wedding knowing that many people would be coming from different backgrounds. The Catholics in our family would be familiar with the liturgical order of the service. The Protestants in our family would be familiar with some of the more contemporary Christian musical choices that we made. We also decided to print all of the scripture readings we selected and the responses that were expected from the attendees.
Our song choices were:
Classical tunes: "Clair de Lune" - Claude Debussy, "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" - J.S. Bach, "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" Ludwig von Beethoven, "Brother James Air" - Bain
Contemporary tunes: "Lord I Life Your Name on High", "You Are My All In All", and "Shout to the Lord"
Our Scripture readings were:
Song of Solomon 2:10-13; 8:6-7
1 John 4:7-16
From that point on, time flew. Before I knew it I was standing face to face with her and all I could see was gold illuminating her face. This woman was soon to be my wife and God was making it very apparent to me that this was a special moment in my life. The grace abound was astounding -- so thick nearly that I felt I could physically see what was happening in a way I knew no other person in the room could see. My wife told me afterwards that she saw the same thing. We both knew that something extraordinary had happened that morning. It was more than a social contract appeasing our parents. It was blessed by God to be something special.
A few years later, our lives brought us to consideration of Catholicism. What was different between it and the Anglican communion of which the Episcopal church was a part? I found in the back of the Book of Common prayer some "historical documents" of which a declaration called the 39 Articles
XXV. Of the Sacraments.
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
This bothered me, partly from my experience at our wedding and further from my experience as a married man. I had already encountered more Catholic understandings of marriage through reading on birth control. I found it wholly repugnant to ignore that Christ's first miracle occurred at the wedding at Cana and further to ignore St. Paul's having compared it, in a very real way to the Church itself. The actual grace that comes from trying to be a faithful Christian husband to your wife is readily apparent to any and all who partake in marriage. How could the obvious fruits of marriage, including children be anything less than a sign of God's love and grace to all of us? The actual grace was undeniable. I have heard it said by some that the ordinary means of salvation for the majority is through the faithful service of ones spouse and the right upbringing of children in the faith. Of all the arrangements in my life, the most clear arrangement resulting in closeness with God is my marriage. To say it is not a sacrament was tantamount to insulting all that I held dear about marriage and to further relegate it to a mere social contract as if God had no intent in the right ordering of spouses towards sacrifice and sheer dependence on grace to even make it work. I decided to share my dismay with other Episcopalians. Upon this inquiry I found that whether or not we believed the contents of the "39 Articles" was really up to us. I could hold a sacramental belief about marriage. I further found this difference in belief also included our beliefs on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist which we found differed in the church from actual belief in the Catholic doctrine all the way to those who believed it no more than bread and wine.
To me this was even more bothersome. The Eucharist either IS or it IS NOT Christ. Marriage either IS or it IS NOT a sacrament. Those are pretty fundamental things to disagree on and here I was going to church with every manner of person believing as they wish. The relativistic aspect I was encountering on matters of doctrine was giving me strong cause to reconsider my affiliation with the church I was going to. The lack of real support for young married couples was even more pressing at that time in our lives. Our church was simply lacking in young families. We desired Christian friends with young children even if only for fellowship reasons. This collection of reasons gave us what we needed to justify church shopping.
It was a difficult path though. We loved the people we went to church with. What about those relationships?
Nice guys finish in heaven
found a couple of posts I wrote on DCF that I wanted to keep
Who cares what works NOW. Nice guys finish in heaven.
Love is about pursuit. Pursue Jesus and if it is His will, she will come ...
Consider the following idea:
Dating -- particularly the worldly idea "serial monogamy" vs.
Until death .... sacramental marriage
One idea is being fed to you constantly through standard media outlets and the other is likely not being talked about at your church. Serial monogamy (highly encouraged by the dating mentality) undermines the idea of "until death". It creates a mindset of disposable relationships. I have been fortunate to have a few friends who have prepared for marriage recently discuss with me with their pre-marriage issues. Its like a broken record. Both had cold feet. I had it as well. In every case it reeked of direct attack from Satan on a marriage that is likely to result in increasingly holy spouses and large numbers of children raised in the faith. It is the systematic undermining of "until death" by the idea that "well, there has to be someone better out there" ...
Men like to be logical. We think "There are 3 BILLION women in the world. Statistically speaking the perfect one must exist ... right?" The conclusion is that I must date as many women as possible to be able to discern the right one. Stop thinking in terms of better, more beautiful. You will hear the following phrases from many women -- "this guy is dating material" vs. "that guy is marriage material" ... Guess which one you want to be? The guy with no dating experience who is "marriage material".
IMHO, you should be preparing yourself to be a husband and not worrying about who she is. The rare woman, (read Proverbs 31 for a description) marries with her eternal destination in mind. She seeks the man whose headship she does not fear. She is looking for a man who will accelerate her path to holiness by his support and His strength. That type of woman is an asset to your journey towards Christ. I am not saying marry someone who is going to be a source of suffering. The one who is dissing you because you are nice is likely to bring plenty of that. I am saying marry someone who assists in fixating your every fiber towards Christ. She is rare and she might be right under your nose but you are not going to notice her Christ-like qualities in a dating mentality. Take some time away from that rat race and bury your face in total submission at the foot of the Cross ... All good relationships begin there.
Prepare for your role. God will know when you are ready. Let Him provide the final piece. The hard work isn't finding the right one. The hard work is being ready if and when the right one comes.
found a couple of posts I wrote on DCF that I wanted to keep
"Then she tells me that she doesn't think we're good for each other because we never fight."
I hesitate to post this but I think it needs to be said. What I bolded above is a great lie that undermines WAY too many relationships. I hear it all the time. I think people are confusing undisciplined anger with "passion".
It falls into the category of statements like "kids can't control themselves so we have to give them condoms". It seems sensible, however, as Christians, we are called to perfection and perfection doesn't have room for undisciplined sexual behavior just like it doesn't have room for undisciplined anger.
My wife and I hardly fight. In fact, we only fought a tiny bit before we got married but the vast majority of that was pride and hard-headedness on my part. Once I learned that sacrifice trumps selfishness in a relationship things started to get a lot more peaceful. The first year had some occasional quibbles but years 2-5, save a couple of minor disagreements was almost event free. I think people who fight all the time seem to think that it is a measure of some level of honesty that those of us who don't fight are missing. I hear more than my share of seemingly happy married couples who tell us they worry about us because we don't fight. I think they need to worry more about why they DO fight than why we don't. Fighting doesn't have to be a persistent condition of marriage. Its something you can choose to virtually eliminate but you have to be prepared to sacrifice in order to have it, which means swallowing your pride when you know you are wrong.
There is something to be said for knowing that disagreements will happen. They will. Whether or not what results of the disagreement is labelled a fight or not depends on how you deal with it.
My parents just made their 50th anniversary and are still pleased as punch to be married. They fought once when I was about 8 and from talking to my mom, there were some troubles at the start and then things ironed out for 49 years with a few speed bumps Smile.
True love ... happily ever after
I had some thoughts tonight that I wanted to capture....
Catholics are free to believe in true love. You know the kind that movies are made about that always end with the line "and they lived happily ever after". The reason this is so is because Catholics realize that in Christ one can attain perfection. Not a covering of a permanent imperfection but perfection made complete in Christ. One realizes that as each year of marriage ticks by you always have a choice. You can listen to what the world says is going to happen tomorrow in your marriage or you can listen to what your heart really tells you about marriage. Happily ever after is attainable. The answer, as it is to every important question in life, is Jesus Christ.
The path however is a most unexpected one to the young "happily ever after" mindset. Sacrifice. It is what Christ did for us and it is His greatest example as to what extent our love must take for others. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13). I heard the following this week when I mentioned that I get up at night frequently to help the kids get back to sleep: "You work long hours and your wife stays at home all day. Why should you get up with the kids?" ... at the time I was lost for words. Since then I have had a little time to reflect upon it.
I hear about how men are supposed to have their thumb on the relationship. Its about control. Failing to exhibit "authority" is failing in your marriage as "the man". This is an incomplete viewpoint. To these real men, I simply respond that rightful authority is granted by love. Submission in spiritual matters is much easier when the man has demonstrated a firm grasp of sacrificial love to his wife. It has nothing to do with a "right" that men should or shouldn't have in a relationship. That right would not exist if not granted by God Himself and demonstrated most perfectly in the sacrifice of Christ Himself. Men love to trot out Ephesians 5 with pride and flamboyance: "wives submit to your husbands" (v22) yet it amazes me to regularly hear the quotations stop there. Why are so many men failing to read the words aimed directly at them? "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her". (v25) -- GAVE HIMSELF UP -- It is about sacrifice. I get up with the kids because in the language of love an action of sacrifice says "I love you" louder than any box of candy, flowers or late night stroll ever will. It is the least I can do for the sacrifice my wife makes in performing the jobs of day care, cleaning and cafeteria personnel on a daily basis. It certainly isn't in the category of giving up my life which is the extent to which a Christian husband is expected to love his wife.
It seems exceptional marriages consist of couples who believe that there is a happily ever after. The difference is that they understand that its meaning is wholly contrary to that which is peddled in our culture. So men, read the parts directed at you. Make the real effort. Love your wife.
Taming your desires in order to achieve contentment.
For the first time since I became a Catholic I am starting to really understand the concept of making yourself less dependent on things and on the daily routine being the way it usually is. The idea isn't just to make you miserable but to INCREASE your dependence on God and make you less dependant on the things of the world. I used to be dependant on a good Krispy Kreme in the morning before work. Not only was that making me gain weight, it was putting me in a bad mood later in the day. I removed it from the daily lineup and the weeks immediately following it were hard. Now it is a rare treat as opposed to an expectation of something I deserve. I have learned to be content without.
My way of fasting tended to focus on the misery rather on the contentment to be acquired by dependence on God. That misses the point. "Be joyful" Paul commands.
I think the idea that we deserve anything on a daily basis is a thought process that most of us have to get over. Sometimes I get frustrated when I don't get a "precious" few moments to blog in the late evening or morning. Usually the interference involves the needs of one of my family members. How selfish am I to get frustrated about something far less significant than the needs of my wife or kids?
In the next few weeks I plan to identify the things I am used to having on a daily basis; the things I think I CANNOT do without and I am going to better discipline myself in regards to them in order to learn contentment without them. I resolve to work harder to serve my family in joy, even when I am tired or at my wits end.
It has always been my experience that if I don't discipline myself, God always has a way of shifting life around to ensure that I am more dependant on Him. I am always thankful for the shakeup because it points out my clear weaknesses and need to turn YET AGAIN to Him. Hindsight of course always reveals that there was a much easier path if I had made the decision to seek Him a lot sooner.
I might as well make the connection to joy a lot easier by taking the steps myself rather than relying on Him to gently nudge me ... or even rudely thrust me ... into understanding.
NFP, the place of sex in marriage and the role of sacrificing husbands
Below is a cut and paste fest of some things that I have written in recent weeks about attitudes towards sex. It also gives a little
background into how I have come to the conclusions I have come to. I may clean this up later and link to some references on the matter. For now, this is what you have ...
Read the letter in CCLI where a man has some choice words about NFP
Now, re-read the letter above with the thought "sex is my god" and see how it comes across. I hate to sound like a jerk, but I am not sympathetic at all. If you are using NFP for 18 years then I think "openness to life" is not high on the priority list.
Lets face it, we live in a society where SEX is God and if it is infrequent or not present at all, that
is hell. I think the average man needs to get in the mindset of asking himself if he would love and cherish his wife if one day she were to get into an accident and sex wasn't possible? Thats a tough one, yeah, but the answer should be so obvious
This is hard to say on my blog, but I have made it known elsewhere and for the purposes of this post it is relevant information. My wife and I recently abstained for 8 months after the birth of our daughter. I used it as an opportunity to express my love for my wife in different ways. I feel closer to her now than I ever have. The time period ENHANCED our relationship. It felt like we were dating again. I cannot express to you how much of a gift that time has been. I also used the time to learn better how to TAME my desires in a healthy way. I personally think getting the flesh under control in this manner is a difficult but good discipline to put yourself through. Besides, every sacrifice is an opportunity to allow Him to INCREASE.
(John 3:30) It also gave me time to learn more about my faith. Most importantly, the time period in itself was an immeasurable indication to my wife just exactly how much I love her.
The purpose of marriage isn't rampant sex. Unfortunately we live in a world where that is the norm in a relationship. I have seen one too many truncated interpretations of Ephesians 5 resulting in men asserting their "biblical right" to indulge themselves at will, and with contraception that means without any consequence. If she is physcially capable then she is fair game. I then hear of women talking about their necessity to think about "doing it for the Queen". Total unitive and procreative love is damaged when the woman is submitting out of fear or indifference as opposed to surrendering herself out of love. Actual sacrificing love on the part of the husband, however, harbors a stronger desire to share in intimate moments in the context of true headship and submission. The corrupt version is a sexual attitude which COULD result in what Pope Paul VI referred to as men seeing their wives as a "mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires". (Humane Vitae 17) It can even happen in traditional Catholic marriages where men have no care for the physical and mental well-being of their wives. People focus to much on asking their wives to "suck it up" and "sacrifice" opposed to asking themselves to maintain a basic level of self-control for periods of time for the benefit of the wife. Ephesians 5 specifically indicates that men are to love their wifes as Christ loves the Church. Consider His sacrifice? To what level should we, as men, be prepared to give? The submission of a Christian wife in any matter is greatly compromised by husbands who demand submission without offering any amount of reasonable sacrifice themselves. Self control and sacrifice on the part of husbands is necessary. Without them, you are teetering on a dangerous edge of treating your wife no differently than the way men treat lap dancers in a strip club.
It is high time people kick sex off the pedestal they have it on and get some perspective. People who have tons of children have long periods of time where they cannot have sex spaced nice and evenly throughout their marriages. It is hard for them too ... and they have a bunch of kids running around to make it even more difficult to find time to get away and be intimate in any manner, much less sexually. Some couples struggle having children and they have sex frequently. I am guessing it is tempting to think those men have it great. All sex ... all the time. Ask those couples what they would give for the opportunity to have a child, which is a gift so many people squander away in order to pursue other things.
If the frequency of sex is a problem, open yourself to having a child. After all, that is far more in line with His purpose than your being sexually satisfied all the time.
Response to Sex and Divorce
Response to Sex and divorce
... I should have qualified at least the words "partially" with my cause being a modern day extension of the root cause. Call it the surface cause ...
The basic gist of my point is that with contraception came, likely, the final blow ... the division of sex from marriage. The temptation to be as we are today has always existed. There is, after all, nothing new under the sun. The technological advances in "family planning" have made it easy to not get caught. The risk of getting pregnant is reduced significantly. It used to be that before you had sex with someone the question "Do I want to have children with this person" had to come to mind. That thought alone would deter the actions of most sane single men. With ABC, there is no need to give that thought much weight. After all, we have "protection" these days and giving in is seen as part of the normal exuberance of youth and as you say, forgiven.
While adultery is still considered grave by most, I would say that is not the case for pre-marital sex. Cohabitation is almost universal now and with that near certainty that sex is occurring (**1
). I can off hand cite that 21/23 couples were living together at our EE
. The numbers suggest the stigma of pre-marital sex is nonexistant ... in fact, quite the opposite for all the virgins out there who have been hassled for their most Holy state by their friends.
In the logic of the "single" sexually satisfied man, for what purpose is marriage other than to make him responsible to the wife and accountable to a legal system that might rob him blind in the almost likely situation of a future divorce? I have seen that argument made on more than one occasion.
I highly recommend reading Contraception: Why Not? by Janet Smith
and also get a copy of Humanae Vitae
. I note specifically what Paul VI predicted would happen with the ready availibility of contraception. Section 17 Consequences of Artificial Methods
Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.**1:
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
"It is estimated that 60% to 80% of the couples coming to be married are cohabiting." -- from USCCB - Marriage Preparation and Cohabiting Couples
No kissing before you get married
From the how far is too far files:
I hear young people ask the "how far is too far" question a lot yet I never hear any adults given them a straight shooting answer. Here is what I wrote about it on DCF
OK, I am going to sound like a total prude here, but I think this is something that should wait for a very long time, like the wedding. The physical aspect of marraige is the ICING on the cake. I know the temptation to lick the bowl, or swash your finger in the icing is pretty high, but lets get things straight, we all know that waiting to eat the completed cake is preferable to any alternative.
Besides, I think we are treading on thin ground here, as we all know that kissing leads to other things and there is little doubt that it gets you physically aroused. My understnading of 'openness' to life is that once the process has begun, we should give ourselves totally to our spouse. That isn't fully possible until you are married. Don't even take the risk at being in a compromising situation where the area is gray. Besides, you certainly shouldn't be considering how well someone kisses as a factor in choosing a spouse. .
All of it can wait and in my opinon, that is the optimal way to do it. Give yourself TOTALLY to your spouse and only your spouse.
I wrote this over a year ago and after hacking and various other things should have caused it to fall away into the abyss of old forum posts, there it was preserved in its original state. It caused a mild stir ... it is pretty radical after all. Now you have read it too and I still stand by it.
The best of my unsolicited advice about getting married
Every marriage is different
The goal of marriage is the salvation of your spouse and children.
Marriage is a sacrament. Through it you receive an abundant and constant source of grace. I have heard it said that it is the primary means of salvation for the majority.
That grace frequently call us to intense sacrifice.
You must understand that love is a choice.
Guys, you must be prepared to give yourself up for her per Ephesians 5.
You must give up being single.
You must understand that getting married is rightly ordered towards procreation -- or, you had better understand that being a parent in short order is a very real possibility.
Read Psalm 127
Marriage vs. career goals .. marriage ALWAYS comes first.
The fruits of your career are temporal ...
You cannot take the fruits of your career with you.
The fruits of your marriage are eternal ...
the easiest attack point for Satan on a solid Catholic marriage is BEFORE IT STARTS
the warm fuzzies come and go
you will make each other mad on occasion
when dealing with "intense fellowship" STOP ARGUING and pray together first, no matter how much it hurts
Oh, and one last thing ...
Marriage rocks ... Learn everything you can about sacramental theology. Nothing makes your spouse more beautiful than understanding their purpose and your purpose. Understanding the link between the physical you and the spiritual you is paramount to having the type of love that is like a fine wine as opposed to the type of love that is like a birthday cake.
As time goes by ... which would you prefer?
ABC and the division of sex from marriage
I am certainly not the first one to realize the possible link between the availability of artificial birth control and an increase in the divorce rate. In fact, it is mere speculation on my part BUT I do want you to consider one significant thing. In 1800, when a couple decided to engage in sexual relations a monumental decision had to be made. You had to ask yourself the question "Do I want to have children with this person?" That question alone offers even the one INTENDING to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage the strong incentive to reconsider and value the ideal of sexual relations ONLY within the proper context of marriage.
Now fast forward 200 years. That significant incentive has been removed and the net result is a disconnect between marriage and sex. Larger and larger percentages of people do not see a purpose for marriage because sex and procreation are far less a part of it than in past centuries. I recently read something about men and their ideas on marriage that sadly underscores my point here. Men are not getting married because women are living with them and sleeping with them. They are getting what they want without having to commit themselves to the long term welfare of their would be spouses. Men also consider exposure to possibly losing half of their life earnings by way of a future divorce a plausible risk ... Logic, for these men, dictates their reasoning behind why they do what they do. Casual sex in modern times is rampant, and certainly encouraged. Of course, it only makes sense ... right? Our modern marvels have given us the ability to engage in unhealthy spiritual union with another human being without all of the previous physical repercussions. STD's are reduced by judicious use of barrier methods. Children are avoided by these and a host of other artificial contraceptive methods. We have developed, very thoroughly, the idea that there is no real practical incentive to get married or even stay married.
The remaining incentives for marriage are mostly faith matters. Sure, studies have shown that children raised in traditional two parent homes are far more likely to grow up emotionally stable. That would be one solid incentive, but in a world where thinking about your next sexual encounter is so significant, the idea of children is far off in the minds of the average single person.
Quite simply, the real incentive is that marriage is Gods plan.
Technology provides us with novel ways to sin better but no matter how advanced we become, we cannot escape the fact that the revealed truth proclaimed by His Holy Catholic Church remains firm. I am not saying that we are any worse as a society today than 200 years ago. It is MUCH easier to fall for these lies now than then and I am sure if the technology had been available then, the problems associated with it would have also been present. There is a reason that the Didache some 1900 years ago rails against abortion ... We have been considering children an inconvenience for generations. "There is nothing new under the sun."
A crush: How it consumes us and why it is different from the love that makes a marriage work
Once again, another post from DCF
First off, a crush is a fixation on a non-reality. You are attracted to an ideal of this woman, not her. I had several long crushes on women where hindsight showed me that I BLATANTLY applied traits to a person that did not exist. Here is a perfect example from my own experience:
Hottie: Yeah, I went to church this past weekend.
What I heard: Yes, my life is deeply devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. I go to mass every day and I spend at least 2 hours in prayer when I wake up. I used to sin, but I don’t now. I am a living saint.
Hottie: Yeah, I lived with a guy for 3 years who cheated on me.
What I thought: That jerk!!! He led this innocent girl astray.
Also, crushes oftentimes have an element of “impossible” to them. In my experience those are the WORST. This stems partially from our desire, as men, to save the damsel in distress. This is a good trait but this is a bad application of it. Anyway this woman is not impossible because she is out of your league, but because she is so different from you that you know your chances of making a lasting relationship work with her is virtually non-existent. I call this the "exotic factor". She is usually in legal or emotional trouble or of wildly different social, ethnic and/or relgious background. Usually a combination of most of these. What we have a tendency to do initially is ignore the glaring and obvious obstacles that will prevent a relationship with this person as she really is and reduce the object of our affections simply to a physically appealing woman with an unknown personality. We then become her knight in shining armor, even though there really isn't much that we really see worth saving other than a pretty face. Worse yet, often times she lacks interest in you which enhances the "impossible" factor. Guys are suckers for that type of girl. This is the perfect foundation for building the ideal person in your mind that you will never have because you don't REALLY know this girl. You take her positives and apply them in grandiose fashion and tailor her to your every whim. The negatives, you do not even see or you chalk up to hearsay. Part of what strengthens the crush is the knowledge that, deep down, you know it is not going to happen. Oddly, that fuels the yearning because the more unlikely the chance, the deeper in you want to get. This is male pride. A challenge!!!
Second, you have GOT to find out things like you mentioned in the previous post [which mentioned that she had flaws]. That minimizes the crush because you are starting to see the person as they are ... with flaws. Stop making excuses for the things they do that bother you. You see them, but you are often blind to them. Accept reality. If marriage looms around the corner (and one day it will) you will have to live with these things and it is MUCH better to deal with them now than later.
Third, as I am sure every married person has told you, one must understand that REAL love is different than that of a crush. Attraction must be there no doubt but real love is when you CHOOSE to love a person DESPITE their flaws. God can work with that and in my experience crushes fade, while love grows. I love my wife more today than I ever have and it beats any crush that I ever had.
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On Being Single ... from a married guy
God has blessed me richly with a wonderful wife and great examples of lasting marriages within my family. Also, being married gives me some insight on the transition from being single to being married. On a forum that I frequent someone asked the question "What do you do when it seems clear that it just isn't going to happen?" ... My response was as follows
This advice may sound harsh but you have to get comfortable with a few ideas about being single and being married. From a now happily married, ex-happily single person, let me tell you what helped me, and in hindsight, would have helped me even more.
First, being single is a gift. (see 1 Cor 7).. This idea permeates Church history and is evident in its teachings on the virtue of chastity. One of the early fathers even went so far as to say that marriage is wonderful in that it produces virgins. These days we have a tendency to not see the single life for the gift it is because everything in our culture tries to tell us that being married and living happily ever after is a special rite of passage that should happen to everyone.
Second, being married doesn't solve all of your problems and it is not a magic time of life that brings nothing but joy and happiness. (for example, I am sitting up at 4 am with my daughter falling back to sleep in my lap... cute yes ...but not always fun... ) ... Don't get me wrong. I gush about how wonderful marriage is all the time but it is a vocation. It takes hard work and great sacrifice to make it joyful. Too many people in this day and age want to think of marriage as enhanced singleness with all of its freedoms and the added bonus of someone to come home to. Treating marriage that way is setting it up for big problems. Once you get married you GIVE UP being single. I had to learn this lesson the hard way so I am telling you now, cherish the advantages while you have them.
Third, the most important relationship you have is with Christ. Maximize this time with Him and become comfortable with the idea that He is all you need, because He is. Go to daily mass. Pray more. Learn more about the faith. Serve at the local soup kitchen a few extra hours a week. This is a special time in your life with Him. Live it up.
I know of a guy who derives great unnecessary misery from this idea he has that marriage is going to fill some void in his life. What he doesn't understand is that void needs to be filled before he is ready to find a wife. My wife and I both met each other after we came to the solid conclusion that if God had us be single, we would be OK with it. You would be shocked how many married folks we know that tell us the same thing. The plan needs to be His not ours and His timing is not always as soon as we would like.
The thread continued ... as will these posts in the next few days. Stay tuned.