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Posted February 22, 2010

Seasons of marriage

Taken from Catholic News Service

Editors: In response to editors' requests for a regular sampling of current commentary from around the Catholic press, here is an editorial titled "Seasons of marriage," which appeared in the Feb. 14 issue of the Catholic Times, diocesan newspaper of Columbus, Ohio. It was written by David Garick, editor.

There's a lot involved in building a marriage. Sometimes I am completely amazed that the institution works at all. After all, look at how we get into it. A young man and woman meet and a spark sets off this romantic explosion creating an intoxicating atmosphere in which both of them lose most of their reasoning ability and connection to reality. Life begins and ends with each other. Your newly discovered mate can do no wrong. And when he or she does something wrong, it is quickly lost in the haze of newfound passion.

What do you do when the air clears and the reality of being a couple sets in? When we were newlyweds, my wife once asked me, "Can things really be this good?" I told her, "Of course they can. And they are just going to keep getting better and better." Now there's a tall order to fulfill. But I was young and optimistic. Thirty-three years later I'm still working on it.

What makes a marriage really good? I'm certainly no expert. I've screwed up many times over the years. But based on the notion that you learn much more from your mistakes than from your successes, I should, by now, have a wealth of knowledge. So, here are a few thoughts.

Flexibility is very important. Here, I'm talking about flexibility in the sense of bending over backward to accommodate each other. After all, this is the person you love. Besides, it is very hard to hit each other when you are both bent over backward. At our house, sometimes we have trouble getting things done because we are both trying to figure out what the other one wants.

Recognize that you are not going to change your partner's basic traits. After all, that's what attracted you in the first place. If you view your spouse as a rehab project, you will fail and have nothing but conflict. The amazing thing is that over the course of years when you have accepted your spouse for who they are, you find that they have morphed into the very traits you wanted them to adopt, but could not force on them. My wife was always somewhat vexed by my nature of being very private, non-emotional and withdrawn into my personal shell. But she accepted it. Now I write about deep personal issues, feelings and spiritual matters and publish them in a newspaper. Go figure.

Most important is faith. Christ taught us how we need to relate to each other. By worshiping together and taking in the lessons of holy Scripture and being in communion with Christ through regular reception of the Eucharist, a couple can also be in greater communion with each other. If Christ is at the center of the family, it is very hard to get too far off course.

Marriage goes through many seasons. But just because the blooms of spring have faded is no reason to despair. God has provided other joys for each season of a relationship including the hectic summer pace of family and children, the colorful autumn of maturity and the comfort of bundling together in the serenity of life's winter, secure in enduring love and companionship. It really does keep getting better.