Falling Out of the Marriage Boat???

Posted: September 18, 2019 in World On The Edge

My husband and I have been married for fifty-three years, so I know a little bit about the subject. Marriage can be viewed through many spectrums: love, of course; sacrifice; commitment; responsibility; patience, forgiveness, and courage. But since I’m a writer, I’ll use the poetic analogy of a boat for the married state. I began the adventure of marriage sailing in one boat with a man I fell in love with. In time, five children took up resident in our boat, as well as suitcases of sporadic joys and sorrows, constantly  opening and closing. Yet, the vessel never seemed too small for any of us. And even on very wide waters, in sometimes frightening weather, our little boat never stopped its aim for the farthest shore.  Looking back, I call that a mystery.

I have asked myself the question: How did my husband and I last through for these fifty-three years? Because there were times. . . .Oh yes, there were times, when each of us may have wanted to ‘get out of the boat’ and be done with the trip, but again, because of some mystery, we remained.

My husband and I met when we were seventeen years old as freshmen at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL. He was from North Alabama, a transplanted Yankee only a year before. I was a dyed-in-the-wool Southern girl born and raised in South Alabama. He borrowed a pencil from me in Theology class, and broke it. Later he told me he’d broken it purposely so he could stop me after class and give me a verbal apology. We were at once attracted to each other. Who knows why that happens–instant attraction—except it did. And what is that fragile web of affection between a man and a woman that teases by word and touch, by sight and appetite, and fastens two separate souls into one? Well, I call that a mystery, too.

I was an art major, and he was a history major with an eye to Law School. In ways, we were complete opposites. I saw our life together as a painting in progress, a changing of colors from dark to light to brilliant, and sometimes back again to start all over with darkness, requiring a complete and utter gesso of the canvas. He saw it measured against the annals of what succeeds and what doesn’t. He was–and is–the logical foundation. I am a believer in imagination, always wanting to paint things a little brighter. But we are the same when it comes to seeing our marriage as our most important vocation, the vehicle which will take us to heaven. We see our marriage as a sacrament. Another mystery? I think so.

In the original Greek scripture, the word for “mystery” actually meant “sacrament.” The sacrament of marriage was intended to reflect the unremitting love that Christ has for His people, the Church. My husband and I never considered that we could, or would, get out of our Catholic marriage, no matter how many bad times we would go through–and there have been many. In other words, we believe in the mystery and in the sacrament.

Today, the concept of marriage, who and what it’s for, has changed in the eyes of many people who are unwilling to take on the honest commitment that marriage requires. These are spouses– husband and wife, or both–who have been led to believe that “Life is all about ME.” That statement is poison to marriage and family, because it makes marriage as disposable as a paper plate, a sign of our times.  Today, many weddings seem to be only expensive occasions to party, and afterwards, the marriage sometimes bears little resemblance to the sacrament of Holy Matrimony as God intended it to be–husband and wife holding on to each other through good and bad times in a vehicle of His grace, helping each other to become the best person each can be.

And if any vocation needs grace to survive, it is surely marriage. Because if we fall out of the marriage boat and drown, we may watch our children drown with us.

No matter how well matched they may be, it is not easy for any two people to live together day in and day out, year after year, with their inescapable faults and personality defects grating upon each other. It’s not easy to help one another grow in goodness and nobility in spite of those faults—little by little adjusting to one another so that the faults of one “fit in” to the perfections of the other and unity arises from the very differences of the two persons. This is a beautiful evolution, like the emergence of the butterfly from its chrysalis; but it is not easy. No matter how selfless a couple may be, it is not easy for them to face the prospect of responsible parenthood, with all the sacrifices that entails. Especially it is not easy to face the prospect of an ultimate judgment, in which they will have to answer to God for the souls of the children who have been entrusted to them..–beginningcatholic.com

Traditional marriage is a sacrament instituted by God who loves us. It is His grace that gives us commitment to keep going. And yes, the water IS wide, the boat sometimes constricting, and the trip often difficult. But love that works through difficulties can lead to holiness and everlasting life with God.

Comments
  1. So beautiful. Thank you for this blog

    Like

  2. Mike says:

    Kaye,

    A timely and insightful post. Yes, marriage is a relationship, and that means things are not static. Your spouse will change over time, just as you will, and both have to accommodate the other by changing with them. This “happily ever after” myth lulls us into thinking that once we find our sould mate, we’ll be frozen together in perfect bliss> That’s just not the way the world works.

    Like

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