One of my husband’s favorite tricks to play when he’s giving a talk at a Pre-Cana is to try to catch me off guard and say “Hey, Patti, do I make you completely happy?” All of the hopeful, engaged couples in the room turn to see me in the back. “No way!” I shout back. There are some nervous laughs and some jaws drop.
Then he drops the bombshell:
Sorry to break it to you guys, but your future wives will never be able to make you completely happy. And the same goes for your husbands, ladies.
This smacks in the face of popular culture. You’re not going to see that truth portrayed in many chick flicks. Most of us spend our teens and 20s searching for our soul mate. Or as they say in Spanish: our media naranja – the other half of our orange. We long for someone to complete us and make our lives more full. We think if we can just find Mr. Right or Mrs. Right, then we will be happy.
But here’s the truth: if you go into marriage with your own happiness as the goal, chances are you’re going to fail!
Today, February 7th, begins National Marriage Week.
It’s a good time to take a step back and take a look at God’s plan for marriage.
Marriage can absolutely be a source of lasting love, peace and joy. As Blessed John Paul II taught in Theology of the Body, in order for marriage to bring the happiness God intended, we have to follow his plan for marriage.
Marriage is a glimpse of heaven! It’s a foretaste of the incredible heavenly banquet that awaits us! It is a tremendous gift from God meant to point us the way to heaven. It’s a sign of the amazing things to come.
But like Christopher West says, sometimes we cling to the sign. We forget that we are on a journey. Wouldn’t it be silly if we’re trying to get to Chicago and instead we clung to the sign that points the way? Our ultimate destination is the greatest marriage of all: between Christ and his Church. We are on our way to be united with God in the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb. That’s where true happiness lies. That’s the way God designed it.
Through our sacramental marriage we are to be a sign of the love between Christ and his Church. My calling as a wife is to allow God to work in Chris’ life through me. We are like stones constantly knocking off each other’s rough edges. That’s not to say we are trying to change each other, but rather we provide a safe, loving place, full of grace that gives the other room to grow.
I read a great reminder to extend grace in our marriage in The Marriage Code. Bill and Pam Farrel remind us that we all have areas of slow growth. We tend to be more patient with ourselves in these areas than with our spouses. They challenge the reader to identify one area of slow growth for your spouse and, without saying anything, commit to extending as much grace as they need in that one area. How’s that for a great Valentine’s Day present idea?!
Marriage is not easy. There will be times of great happiness and oneness. But there are also times of great trials, boredom and disillusionment. If we focus on our ultimate goal of growing together in our relationship with God, He will give us the grace we need to live out this Sacrament more fully.
Will you join me in celebrating National Marriage Week by focusing on becoming a more faithful sign for my husband and those around me, pointing the way to heaven? We will not find complete happiness here on this earth, but I pray we will all find it together in eternal life!
- If you live in the area I’d like to invite you to join us on Valentine’s Day for the first of six Date Nights for Catholic Couples.
- No matter where you live you can join the Virtual Marriage Retreat
Do you have a story of how your spouse has helped you grow closer to God? Share it with us in the comments below!