Every couple wants to avoid divorce and get along without too many fights. A successful marriage however, is much more than just this; it is a life-long union in which both spouses flourish as individuals and enjoy a deep and passionate intimacy. Thinking only in terms of ‘avoiding divorce’ is very limited. It’s rather like a student who only aims to pass: if you miss the mark by even a little, you are already in trouble; you’re likely to fail.
The Church has a different proposition: make marriage your vocation, your whole life’s work. Convince this man that he is loved and appreciated; convince this woman that she is understood and cherished. That’s the job description. Actually, it is more like a mission, and if you approach it with a pro-active mindset, you can take it on with confidence and enthusiasm. You can dedicate all of your talents and intellect to achieving your goal.
The Church asks you to put your whole self into this vocation, as a total gift of self-donation. Fifty-fifty doesn’t really work because it leads you to hold back and to keep score. Self-donation implies that you choose it and that you do so freely. This is being pro-active. You don’t have to wait for the other to lead. You each take responsibility for your mission to love.
Your potential to love your whole life long is all in your ‘will’: you choose it, and you are freer than you think to make choices that will be good for you. It is not difficult or mysterious once you clarify the mission, clear the obstacles, identify your resources and make the most of them.
A vocation is a life choice to which God calls us. He is always eager to send the graces we need to get the job done. So, in marriage, we can pray for passion, enthusiasm, generosity or gratitude and we are assured of God’s help. God is as ready to provide what we need as a mother whose teenager asks for the vacuum cleaner!
It is the Lord’s deepest desire that we love one another as God has loved us. The Father sends us to each other to bring about his purposes, especially when we draw out each other’s goodness and affirm each other’s virtue.
It is always difficult to see ourselves objectively or in perspective. In fact, we cannot even see ourselves physically without a mirror. Likewise we best see ourselves most clearly through the eyes of those who love us.
For our part, if we keep our eyes focused on the other’s masculine or feminine virtue we will not only be drawn to them, but we will feel blessed to be theirs. It will cultivate gratitude and generosity.
The reality is that if you are looking for faults in each other, you will surely find them. Equally so, if you are looking for virtue you will find that too. The more you affirm the good that you see the more that good will be drawn out, and the more you will feel wealthy in love.
The Church has great ambition for your marriage! In choosing to marry in the Catholic Church, you are choosing to make marriage your mission.