Marriage – A Process Not an Event !

      I have heard many people who have said things like ”  Well, with half of all marriages ending in divorce, why should I bother “?  In truth, this question should really be asked in another manner.  More succinctly,  the questions should be, ” Why do half of all marriages today, end in divorce ?”,  ” Is marriage my vocation, is this what I am CALLED to do”?    The largest part of the problems involved within marriage occur because the couple hoes not have a solid understanding of marriage at all.

Marriage is a vocation !  A call from God to be joined together with another.  This calling is conceptually no different than the way one is called to a priestly, or religious life, or to be single.  Each of these types of lives  are valid vocations through which one can live a full life and give God glory and praise.   

Is Marriage right for me ? 

First you should take a little personal inventory.  The first thing on the list should be, where do I stand with God ?  Do I belong to a faith community ? Do I have an active prayer life ?    If this is not something you are already doing … you are probably not ready for another person.     Is the life your living stable ?  Emotionally, Financially, and do you have a relationship with your family ?   Not that it has to be perfect mind you… just that you have one of some type.   Basically, you need to be able to be comfortable and stable on your own before you add someone else into the mix.  I am not saying that your life has to be perfect, but that you should be in a good and stable healthy place in life, and be on your own for a while so that you have developed a full sense of who you are as a person, and what you want for yourself, and for your life ON YOUR OWN FIRST.

Are you called to Marriage ?

What is the purpose of Marriage ?   Marriage is meant for the mutual support of the spouses,  the procreation of children and education of children, and living the example and Gospel witness through your marriage to the world.    In case no one ever mentioned this to you…. Marriage is not an event, its a process.   Its work !  Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition, its a 100/100/100  proposition.  Be prepared to give one hundred percent of yourself no matter what the situation is, because at some point in your marriage, that will be the situation.  Your marriage will require of you to give up your old experiences for new ones.

One of the wisest things my mother ever said to me was this…. ” Life is a matter of perspectives”. 

In marriage each spouse enters the marriage with ideas of what their married life will be.  Each has family traditions , experiences, and added to that are ideas of how they would like their lives to be different.   Then you get married and you run right into your spouses ideas, and desires.  You will have to work through that to figure out how your new life will be.  There are all kinds of problems that could arise, unemployment, catastrophic illnesses, disabilities, children with special needs ( as if they are not all special ?).. extended family issues, etc.  The point is that you will need to be prepared to walk through every trial, every argument, every difference and stay in your marriage an do the work necessary to make that life work.

That is a fairly abysmal view of marriage and at this point you may be asking ” why would anyone want THAT “?  Well lets look at the other side of the coin !    The best part is that you have someone else to live your life with.  If you have an active prayer life and a faith community, you have spiritual support and a place to go for that.   The reason you get married  in a church is that MARRIGE IS A SACRAMENT !  – You give yourself  completely to your spouse and God creates of you both a new person,  One person no longer two persons. The people who are there, the community, is there not only  to be witness to the act,  but to be support for the new life created within you both lived out through your marriage.   Your  family, used prudently, be a good source of support as they are part of that community.  The most important point of support comes from your spouse.  As you are part of each other, and they give you all of themselves to you is the best support you can have.    Marriage is work, but it is also one of the greatest joys you can experience and is something that adds great meaning to life, a life lived in a love greater than ones self – THAT is a life worth living.

You should also be prepared that your spouse may not be in the same place you are in your life.  The idea of marriage is that you give 100 percent of yourself.,  Their 100% may be different than your 100 % –  YOU must be ready and happy to accept their one hundred percent and without expecting more.  There is no more, I, or me, my, or mine but instead our, us and we.  If you accept that divorce is not an option EVER, then you are ready to consider marriage as your vocation.  Before you decide IF  marriage is your vocation,  you should consider all the other vocations as well.   Those other options would include the calling to be single,  to the religious life, or a priestly vocation.  A life of service to God happens in each of these lives, just in different ways.

Dating ?  Dating should be a process by which you decide if the person you are dating, has the same ideas about marriage that you do.  If they fulfill those standards you want in a spouse.  Do they believe Do they believe the things that you do ?  Are those differences important ?  Cant you see that person as a parent ?  How do they deal with problems and adversity ? Do they speak from the heart or do they speak freely and without hiding or games ?  Do they have a good “heart” ?    You should have a pretty good idea of your standards before date.  If the other person does not match those basic standards, you should let that person go, and not really go directly into another relationship.   Take time off to re-center, and forcus on working on your own spiritual and emotional centering. 

Make sure that you involve God in the entire process- Marriage is one really long discernment process with different the questions to discern changing all the time.  Be Patient !  There is someone out there for everyone.  DONT SETTLE !  If the relationship  is not what you are looking for then it is not for you.

Marriage is not an event…. Its a Process !    Your wedding day is the gunshot that starts the race,, its the beginning – This is a race in which you will get tired, you will fall, in places, you will see yourself as both ahead and then behind, and occasionally all at the same time.  There should be a constant 3-way communication going on between you, your spouse and God, just like it was on your wedding day.  The path towards the idea of divorce happens when you stop communicating.  Someone just decides to stop, that they no longer want to communicate.  Communication is part of the heavy lifting that is Marriage.

There are 3 -C’s in Marriage…. Covenant…. Communication… and Compromise.

Covenant- The idea that your marriage is a Sacred and Holy life.   Covenant is more than a promise, and more than a vow.  it is a union and a joining to the deepest level.  Your marriage is something that joins and defines you at the deepest levels of your daily life.  That relationship grows  develops , deepens and , most importantly, changes. 

Communication – At the most basic level communication requires 2 people, one to send, and one to receive.  This as we know is a two way street.  When one spouse sends and the other is not ready to receive communication shuts down.  In a healthy marriage its fine to disagree.  The problem occurs when one of the spouses becomes so vested in their idea that communication ends and emotion takes over.  what communicating with your spouse always listen, digest what is being said and then respond in such a way as to leave the lines of communication and love open and leave the communication, AND relationship open to receive the other. 

Compromise ! – From the very beginning marriage is about compromise.  Each spouse has a picture in their head about how life should be.  At some point these pictures will not be duplicates of the other.  There will be points where life comes along and changes your reality in such a way that is does not look like the pictures  either of you had.  This is the place where you both need to pray about it, start communicating, and make some compromises and  come to some agreements about how to work things out.  

Marriage is like making a blended wine.  In this wine there are two grapes coming from two different places totally different in some ways.  Those grapes are crushed from their old lives, and blended together to form a new must, this is your wedding day !  The wine as it ages , and ferments, it becomes something else, it changes and  develops.  There are changes in color , clarity, hues, flavors, depth.  All these things  can be seen  in marriage and it can be appreciated and celebrated at every step along the way !

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