August 23, 2014

Marriage for Sinners

What do you think of when imagining a perfect marriage? One that has past the test of time, with both husband and wife happy always, smiling constantly in public, and never seen arguing or cross with each other? This is what most people want when starting a marriage, a life of happily ever after, as seen in most romantic movies. This is not necessarily the case though. A perfect marriage might include arguments, frowns, and tears. It might take time for the two to join together as one working unit. Disney movies don't include this fact in most of their love stories: Marriage is a sacrament where two sinners come together to grow closer to God.

I think most people have heard of the 'honeymoon' phase of marriage. The first few weeks, months, or years where life feels like a fairy tale. It seems like most people also know that this phase tends to pass, but what we hear less about is the phases that follow, and why we go through phases at all.

Many religious and secular sources acknowledge the changing phases in marriage, even if they vary slightly in their descriptions. For this post though, I will be referring to the stages as described here. Many secular websites I have seen tend to use a negative viewpoint on the changes in marriage, and basically make it sound like marriage sucks most of the years the couple are together, specifically the child years, and that marriage is not enjoyable until after the children leave and the couple can be together again. The link I shared from foryourmarriage.org gives a much more positive light. I think it is because, being a Catholic website, it understands the true meaning of marriage, and the purpose it is supposed to bring about.

Marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic church. Sacraments are 'signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ the head throughout the Church which is his Body. The purpose of sacraments are to sanctify men (Catechism of the Catholic Church).'

If marriage is a sacrament, and if sacraments are meant to sanctify, then by it's nature marriage will change the people involved. If the couple is letting the marriage work in their relationship, they will grow. Growth is hard work. It takes humility to see problems within yourself, and even more humility to let God work through another human to get rid of those problems and grow up. The couple may also grow at different paces, causing even more hardships.

I often see arguments as failure. Something didn't go right, and because of that an argument happened. Someone wasn't being humble. Someone wasn't being understanding. Someone was being selfish. I'm starting to think that arguments themselves are not the issue. The important part is how gracefully we act before, during, and after an argument. We are all imperfect sinners, or else we wouldn't need the sacrament of marriage. We are all going to mess up and stumble at some point. The goal is that spouses are understanding of this and are Christ-like in their reactions to the fall: They love each other unconditionally, even in the face of a mistake. They are there not to point fingers and to place blame, but to offer help, support, and forgiveness.

We marry because we love each other, we want to spend the rest of our lives together, and because we want to grow close to God together. All three aspects need to be present in a successful marriage no matter what stage we are in. A perfect marriage is one where we change from sinners into saints together as a couple. Is there any fairy tale with a sweeter ending than that? In the wisdom and words of my toddler, "I don't fink so Mommy."



August 14, 2014

Long Days and Cooking

Last week was long. Husband was working long hours at work, and I long hours at home. I learned today that the next few weeks are going to be similar, without a break in the near future. I can feel my tolerance dropping, and to reserve energy, I have been putting off projects to be able to focus on getting through each day. After a twelve hour day doing what seems like everything, nothing tangible can be felt by 9pm. It came to a peak this afternoon when I found myself spending a blessed hour of both kids napping at the same time (miracle!) checking Facebook. Again. I tossed down my phone, realized I was hungry, and started cooking.

Within minutes of boiling water, I felt better. Chopping increased, and blood pressure decreased. After about 30 minutes of work, I had two very humble meals of veggie tacos and spaghetti. It wasn't award winning, but it was good.

Something happens when we live in a virtual world. At most desk jobs, all work is done via computer, and can't be seen once the laptop is closed. Payment for the day's work goes via direct deposit into the bank, and is accessed by a debit card. Driving home in an automatic car, arriving at home, and for some reason being too exhausted to do anything more than watch TV. It is a spiral effect, causing the mood and energy to decrease together.

How do we break out of the virtual world? Out of survival mode, and into reality? By doing work with our hands. The results of building, cooking, painting, and other hobby type activities can be seen instantly, and don't go away if the power suddenly goes out. It is probably the same reason my toddler can be playing a puzzle game on the computer, and end end acting emotional and frustrated, while a different day do an actual puzzle, and walk away happy.

I cleaned as I cooked, and walked away from a clean kitchen and a full refrigerator. Doing something with my hands (In silence...) was so much more revitalizing than taking a nap, or spending more time on social media. I hope this post will be at least a personal reminder that when things get tough, get up and make something good.