Friday, September 11, 2015

THE CHALLENGE OF MARRIAGE

In the past few months, I have stumbled over marriages that have shattered or are crumbling.  They are long-term marriages of friends or marriages of friends of my daughters. The first time I heard of the dissolution of a marriage of a couple who seemed very similar to us in many ways was the reception of a document in the annulment process by my husband, followed by a letter from the wife detailing some of the very serious issues in their marriage.  They had moved away a few years before, but we had stayed with them for several days in their new home, and had been blind to the brewing catastrophe, or deceived by the elaborate farce played out for our benefit.  We did have a dozen children between us and the romping about of so many little ones may have been the smoke and mirrors that kept us from having any sense of what was going on underneath the facade.  But I remember that when it was borne in upon me that in fact this seemingly ideal couple had been torn asunder by the lightning strike of divorce, I felt as if an earthquake had roared beneath my feet, leaving the ground no longer solid, and walls a danger rather than a protective shield.  I understood the twins in A Comedy of Errors who began to question their own identities, although with more serious intensity.  What happens in so many cases is a Tragedy of Errors--errors of understanding, of expectations, and of actions, and most devastating, an error of underpinnings. Because if there is no underpinning of commitment to the covenant of marriage--and for Christians, to the sacrament of Matrimony--then a major disagreement or a tragedy can overwhelm them like a tsunami and obliterate the landscape created by their vows of love.  When Don Francisco sang, "Love is not a feeling, it's an act of the will," he summed up one of the key truths that binds together husband and wife. Your feelings of love may ebb and flow, but your decision to love, "for as long as we both shall live," made on your wedding day, is a sturdy plank in the foundation that will carry you through every storm of life.  Standing securely on that foundation, you can do the work of marriage--prayer, passion, and persistent communication--that provides a home for you and a haven to others.

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