Tertullian, a father of Church (160 AD – 220AD), in a letter to his wife wrote the following about marriage:
“Where are we to find language adequately to express the happiness of the marriage which the Church cements, the oblation confirms, the benediction signs and seal, the angels celebrate, and the Father holds as approved? For all around the earth young people do not rightly and lawfully wed without their parents’ consent. What kind of yoke is that of two believers who share one hope, one desire, one discipline, one service? They enjoy kinship in spirit and in flesh. They are mutual servants with no discrepancy of interests. Truly they are “two in one flesh.” Where the flesh is one, the spirit is one as well. Together they pray, together bow down, together perform their fasts, mutually teaching, mutually entreating, mutually upholding. In the Church of God they hold an equal place. They stand equally at the banquet of God, equally in crises, equally facing persecutions, and equally in refreshments. Neither hides anything from the other. Neither neglects the other. Neither is troublesome to the other.”
Divorce rates are very high, people are struggling. It is important that we take a closer look at marriage. The above quote shows what a marriage should be. The two should become not just one flesh but one spirit, one heart. We all long for that, but somehow, we seem to fall short. Here are some important factors.
Time & Perseverance: One of the greatest enemies and greatest friends of any relationship is time. Quickly we can ‘get used to’ the marriage and it can lose its luster. Also, over time wounds build up and drive a wedge between the married couple. Yet love demands perseverance, through time, a gentle and consistent love will overcome all obstacles.
Prayer & Faith: United in Faith, a couple can truly be of one heart. United in prayer, they can actually spend quality time together every day without fighting. Together they can put their faith into practice. In order for this to grow I would strongly recommend that all married couples make a couples retreat.
Wholehearted Vulnerability: Love and marriage demand a constant choice to be vulnerable with your spouse. To open your heart and life to one another. This vulnerability is wholehearted, because we willingly put our heart out before the person we love so that they can see us. Often, we lose this wholehearted vulnerability because of wounds and we have to learn again how to forgive and let the person we love back into our hearts. Forgive, forgive and forgive again.
To sum up: Marriage is still possible! It is something that we must fight for. It is often a school of humble forgiveness, it is a school of patient love. It is a place where our hearts might be truly one with one another and with God. It is a place where we do not only become one flesh but also one soul.
Fr Michael Thérèse