We are pleased to note that this is our 100th post on The Wonder of Marriage.
The following is an excerpt from a work in progress in which we try to develop an understanding of the meanings of covenant and sacrament. In this section we deal with the requirements of maintaining a life-long commitment.
We have a book titled, Toward Commitment, by Diane and John Rehm, written when they were married for over forty years. They had been through infidelities and separation and were still trying to figure out whether they could make a commitment for their lifetimes.
In contrast, we saw the commitment we made in saying our vows to each other as immediate and permanent from the moment they were spoken. While we have had difficult moments in our marriage, neither of us has ever considered that commitment to be in danger. It has required us to summon the courage to speak up when necessary and go through the work of growing our relationship to new depths.
Here are some of the things we have had to do to maintain the permanence and fidelity we promised:
a. We have had to face issues. When either of us feels neglected, unloved or taken advantage of, one of us has had to summon the courage to broach the subject and maybe risk a fight. This was especially tough for Rita, the peacemaker, but as we have grown in our relationship she has gotten much better.
b. It took effort and experience to learn how to resolve differences – to always remember that I am fighting for our relationship not to prove that I am right.
c. We have learned to support the growth of the other as a person and to celebrate the accomplishments of the other. As St. Paul10 says, love is not jealous but rejoices in the accomplishments of the other.
d. We always strive to keep some romance and fun alive. We still tease each other and make each other laugh. We like to travel and enjoy time for just us. It is like an unending honeymoon. (Our kids often roll their eyes and say: “Oh, no, mom and dad are being teenagers again.”)
e. It has been necessary for us to make the effort to heal and forgive – many marriages end, not because of a major infidelity, but as the result of many small things that have not been forgiven.
f. We worked to share fully in parenting our four children, and avoid putting most of the burden on one of us. This was especially important in making decisions involving them. We developed ways to share in discipline and consulted each other before making a decision. We made an effort to anticipate some of the difficult decisions we might have to make and have ideas how to deal with them or an answer ready when the situation arose. Sometimes we would make a child wait for a decision until we could speak to each other.
g. Growing spiritually together and helping the other to grow spiritually as an individual is also part of our growing commitment. We have encouraged each other to pray. We prayed together and each of us has a prayer style all our own. We believe that the foundation of our commitment is based in our relationship with God. St. Paul says in Rom 8:28 “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” God called us to make a commitment, living that out is the work of our marriage.
This is a short and incomplete list. We are sure you can add to it from your experience. Please take a moment to add an item or two in a comment.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer at: Living Together in the Word