Imagine my horror when I read this article on MSN the other day (I know, that’s what I get for reading MSN, right?) Please, don’t think I look through my marriage, or life for that matter, with some pretty stellar rose-colored glasses. Life experience has taught me that even the best marriages – the ones that go to church every Sunday, the ones that love our kids beyond our wildest dreams and the ones that take time for a weekend getaway with the hubby – struggle. Yes, you heard that correctly. Scott and I have had our bad weeks, months and perhaps even longer stints when we needed some serious work on this lifelong commitment we made.
I’ll add this disclaimer…the reason the article made the hair on my neck stand up wasn’t that it was about divorce. Hey, sometimes it happens and sometimes it’s necessary. But, the author wasn’t married to a man with an addictive habit or was horribly abusive. Nope. None of the above. She was just tired of working at it.
I knew that this article was clearly off base, when I read this little nugget. After listing how she can fill the kitty litter box, make dental appointments, whip up dinner and schedule repairman visits, she just couldn’t seem to squeeze in the whole ‘work on my marriage thing’:
“Do you see? Given my staggering working mother’s to-do list, I cannot take on yet another arduous home- and self-improvement project, that of rekindling our romance.”
Oh really? So, that’s what our society has come down to? If it’s work, nothankyouverymuch? Here’s a reality – everything in which we love – requires work. Hard work. And, I’ll throw this bit of reality to munch on into the ring. A marriage that’s between two people won’t work. Yes, you read that correctly. Think Trinity. As Fr. Phil reiterated the day Scott and I married, “You are about to go from the ‘I/me’ existence to the ‘We/us’ existence.”
He knew that holy, sacramental marriages were a bond of three. If God ain’t in it folks, you best get it that way soon if you want to be holding your sweetheart’s hand in 50 years. He also passed along to us that God doesn’t make marriages perfect. And, we shouldn’t expect them to be that way. If not for some of the holy hell (and I mean that in the holiest sense of the English language) Scott and I have been through, we wouldn’t have made it to the other side with a greater appreciation for each other, or for our commitment to one another.
Life isn’t perfect. Spouses aren’t perfect. Therefore, neither is marriage.
The author then goes on to share this:
“Some of us stay married because … what else is there? A lonely apartment and a hot plate?”
Um, I’m gonna go down a totally different path and offer up this alternative rewrite.
“Some of us stay married because…our spouses bring out our best selves. They challenge us to see our faults and make us become the best version of ourselves. They learn to love us unconditionally, even if we don’t pick up our shoes or wash the dishes in the sink. We stay married because what we formed on our wedding day is sacramental and holy and the love we have for one another is our earthly way of sharing how heavenly love can be.”
The author ends with this “outstanding” piece of advice:
“In any case, here’s my final piece of advice: avoid marriage — or you too may suffer the emotional pain, the humiliation, and the logistical difficulty, not to mention the expense, of breaking up a long-term union at midlife for something as demonstrably fleeting as love.”
What a warm and fuzzy piece of advice, don’t you think? Here’s my final piece of advice. Instead of whining to your girlfriends about how lousy your husband is, scratching the ‘work on my marriage’ off your to-do list or checking out early, make a commitment every morning to make it work. Pray daily with the love of your life, even on the days you don’t want to. And, on the days when you don’t think you can do it anymore, pray a little harder.
Marriage is worth it.