What does marriage mean? What is it’s purpose? I have always loved the wedding vows from the episcopal book of prayer in the 1600’s (before their divergence from the Catholic Church reached the current level). They read something like this:
With this ring, I thee wed.
With my body, I thee worship.
And with all my worldly goods, I thee endow.
The words touch something deeply inside me about the nature of marriage, which many have forgotten. Marriage not a business partnership, about the money or things, nor about protecting oneself. If you do then you will never have a spiritual partnership, and whatever flame there was between you will slowly starve for lack of ability to be fed afresh from your combined hearts. This is because you are holding back and placing something else before your wife.
If you want to truly be one, you must treat and do for her as if she were yourself. You must do more than that actually–treat and love her as God loves you.
Trust always begins with one party lowering their defenses to show their sincerity to the other. As the husband, that responsibility falls to you.
Examine your life together. Are you truly one or are you separated? One of the surest signs is separated finances and property. If you weren’t prepared to trust unconditionally when you got married, then you should not have done so. Now the vow is made, and if you are to have any hope of the relationship intended for you, you will have to examine your situation and make changes accordingly. Likely this will be difficult, but most worthwhile things are.
There are very good reasons the Catholic Church will not marry a couple with a pre-nuptial agreement in place. Don’t presume that anything you own will ever compare to the joy you can feel when the barriers between you are removed. Pool your resources, and work together to make sound decisions for your future. Don’t let something as petty as money or material possessions drive a wedge between you. If you do, you will always regret what could have been. The regret of knowing you could have done something to change things but did not.
If you need to, think of it like a bet. If you venture little you limit your losses, but you also limit your potential gains. In marriage, the bet is an “All In” proposition. You put everything on the table and bet it all, with nothing in reserve. Too often now I hear from couples ho have separated finances and ask hard questions about why there seems to be a emotional gap between them. They fight over money, but worse, they worry about different things. In essence, they no longer share the same concerns at the local level. This leaves a couple disconnected from each other both materially and emotionally, especially when your are busy keeping score with who pays for what or contributes too little. Most of the time these couples consider themselves enlightened, a new vanguard in the development of marriage, and a step in the right direction. They arrogantly assume that in all of history such arrangements have never been tried before and, therefore, have never been disproven as a a viable solution. No matter how forward thinking or enlightened you may tell yourself you are, the truth is that all of it is a massive self-justification you are using to try to convince yourself that your selfish impulses are fully compatible with a loving marriage. Most people want so very much to believe this that any truth or reason simply falls by the wayside along the way, and is replaced by wishful thinking and new-age philosophy. It’s almost like a fulfillment of the promise of the apple as made by the serpent, and such knowledge without the moral compass to guide us quickly steers us into the abyss.
Of all the pernicious evils which creep into the marital relationship, selfishness is the most virulent. This is the one evil that affects every aspect our marriages and poisons them from the inside by creating strife and discontent in every conceivable facet. Whether it be in household choses, finances, work outside the home, or our bedrooms, selfishness alone can destroy the bonds between us. To be perfectly honest, once it has infected any one area, the next place it manifests is in our level of intimacy where each subsequent infection chews away at the bonds that bind us together and drives external wedges into the gaps it creates between us, hammering away until the bonds are broken and in tatters. How often have you realized that whatever you are angry about has suddenly manifested itself in your bedroom in the mood or actions of one partner or the other? Has your blood ever run cold, because you realized deep down what the cause was? Perhaps you told yourself it was something else, because you wanted to cling to your “enlightened” notions. Of course, once the effect is in your bedroom the only real fix is to cast away all trappings of the situation which allowed it in, but once again we are too selfish to allow for that. We have this awful tendency to cling to our failed notions and try to retool them so that we don’t have to admit we were wrong rather than abandon them completely. In doing so, we give this evil the time and room to operate that it needs to destroy us and our marriages from within.
Guard against selfishness in your marriage. Ensure that your “self-interest” is realigned to whatever is best for your wife and not yourself. The only way to defeat this beast is to make her the focus of your efforts at self-preservation. This also goes for her as well–she must make the same effort. It will come much more easily and naturally to her when she sees the example not just in your actions, but in the unspoken speech reflected in your eyes and body language. The sense of security and surety that such actions will foster in her can be overwhelming and the end result for your marriage can be nothing short of miraculous – even if the miracle unfolds over time instead of appearing suddenly. You should be prepared for this to be the case and prepared to stay the course regardless of apparent immediate results. What you will have for your efforts is a complete lack of regret for both your actions and your motivations. You will have a clean conscience, and know that no matter what the outcome you have done everything possible to crush the serpent winding it’s way between you and in doing so also crushed any regrets and remorse, or self-recrimination you might have otherwise been liable to endure. Every time, and I mean every single time – I have put myself first in my marriage I have come to regret it. No matter how rational the decision seemed at the time, the end result was never justified, and I never felt like I had done the right thing, especially in hindsight. I hope that others can learn from my mistakes, rather than having to make them themselves. At the very least, I hope I can shorten the learning cycle down so that they come to the truth much faster and less painfully than I did. There is always time to make a change for the better, and never a better time than the present to do so.
Very few get a second chance to address such regrets. As one who has, I can assure you that there is no regret in failure that compares to the regret of not having taken the risk at all. Do not saddle your soul with regret, it is one of the few things you do take with you when you leave this life.
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts or stories in the comments section, as always I appreciate your feedback and comments, tweets, likes, and reposts. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to pass anything on.