Archive | January, 2013

Mine vs. Ours

28 Jan

Cutting the Wedding Cake as one

Like all of Marriage, how symbolic is the act of cutting the cake together. Showing that everything we do going forward will done by two working as one in purpose.

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 cc70458@gmail.com if you’d like to pass anything on.

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Sex, Intimacy, and NFP

16 Jan

I’m well aware this is a topic nobody really wants to talk about. We would be happier to just pretend it didn’t exist and go on our merry way. None of this changes the fact that I feel compelled to write about it today, and it’s a post that I have been stewing over for some time now. You’re probably telling yourself this doesn’t apply to you or your marriage, or that you and your wife have a mutual understanding. The hard truth is  what you really might have is a mutual desire to avoid a deeply emotional subject which could potentially ignite a conflict if even mentioned. If after you read my story you find yourself feeling differently, consider letting your wife know that you’ve been reconsidering any prior decision on artificial birth control. This opens the door for a conversation if she senses you are sincere and would like the opportunity to revise the way things are. Heck, you might even let her read this just to get her reaction.

If there was a single word that could garner immediate interest and make your blood boil “SEX” would be it, whether with anger, fear, indignation, trepidation, anticipation, or some variety of other powerful and inflammatory emotions.  I think that’s why it has such a potent effect on our relationships with our spouses. On one side it is a driving biological imperative and at the same time an emotional one. Sex is a wondrous construct, with the power to do far more than provide pleasure .  It is also a conduit to intimacy, and when in the right context with the right person, a deeply bonding experience.

This was something I missed for the longest time. I think everyone notices that sex changes everything in a relationship. This is especially true in a marriage. I may find myself on a cracked and skinny limb here, but after over 20 years of marriage I discovered  a few things – some of them far more recently than I should have and this is one of them.

During my wife’s conversion to Catholicism she decided she needed to talk to me. It was obviously important to her; as she let me know in advance and very carefully selected a time and place to drop the bombshell. “I want to talk to you about stopping the artificial birth control”, she said. You could have knocked me over with a feather. If you’d asked me, I would have said everything was great! We had two children and were thinking maybe of having some more, but not that instant. I was taken aback. This would change everything, and change it far more than I realized at the time. It seems she had already talked to the priest about it and read up on what the Catechism had to say on the matter. It wasn’t an ultimatum, and she made it clear that she would not go forward without my agreement to do it. She wanted my consent and for me to take a little time to honestly evaluate the situation in order to give it.

That made things hard– no confrontation, no defiance, no excuse to react in any other way than to agree to look at it and give it some real thought. You might think I would have brushed it off, but I didn’t. Actually, it ate at me and gnawed continuously on my conscience. She provided me the sections of the Catechism relevant to the subject as well as Humane Vitae and some other materials on NFP. I stuck to the actual church materials and avoided other peoples interpretations of them. To this end, I actually read several of the sermons that comprised “Theology of the Body”. In the end I stewed and fretted, not just about the moral implications, but also about how it was going to affect me. Selfishness reared its ugly head early on and guided my “gut” reaction to help ensure the outcome it favored. One of the most important steps we took was to take a class on NFP. I only thought I understood a woman’s body and her natural cycles and rhythms. What I discovered was that I knew more about the inner workings of a nuclear reactor than I did about the inner workings of a woman. We went through the class and spent a few months tracking her cycle. It was something we did together, and it was actually both intimate and interesting. By the end of second month I started to realize just how much I hadn’t understood.

In the end I wholeheartedly agreed, without reservation, to end the artificial contraception for many reasons,  including the following:

I was not willing ask another person to commit mortal sin with me or for me, so that I could enjoy marital relations without reproductive implications. It was not worth the increased cancer risks and other assorted health implications, including decreased libido and increased stroke risk, for my wife to take those pills. When I thought about it objectively, what I was doing was putting my wife’s health at risk so that I could have my way with her without fear of impregnation. Essentially, the pill turned her from a human partner into a receptacle for my sexual angst, whether or not that was ever my intention. What’s worse, I had learned that most pills are abortive. Many work by causing a spontaneous abortion or failed implantation when the prevention of ovulation fails. A condom makes an even bigger statement. Then there is a very tangible physical barrier between us which has a direct bearing on intimacy. To be honest, I heard artificial birth control in general saying something to my spouse – it said, “I want to have sex, but I don’t want any entanglements to ensue”.  The truth is that marriage is all about entanglement, in all aspects of our being.

I had always hoped for a son one day, and one day after my wife passed a clot  during her period, I went to look at the carefully wrapped bloody pad in the wastebasket. It dawned on me with a sudden clarity that the son I had so long desired might be that very clot now laid to rest in a tidy package at the bottom of the trash can. That moment my mind was made up, and I agreed.

The part of this whole discourse that is important however, is that it caused me to totally change the way I viewed and treated my wife and our sexual relationship. I would have been aghast and defensive if you had suggested to me that I had been selfish or that my motives or actions were less than honorable. However, that feeling does not stand the test of scrutiny from several years forward in time. While parts it of manifest themselves immediately, the change was not instantaneous – but no lasting change usually is. The truth is that things only got better from there, and we had 2 more children using NFP to achieve the conception by predicting those times most favorable for doing so. My wife felt much better in general, and thought I thought our sex life was great before – there was a spark missing which rekindled itself into a burning flame once the intimacy barrier of artificial conception was removed.

Let’s be clear that I’m not at all advocating having children until your wife’s uterus falls out, nor am I advocating against spacing the children you do have out. Just that you leave room for God to work in your life. Artificial birth control is not infallible either, and just provides a false sense of security which ends up being an excuse for the holocaust of abortion in far too many instances. I am saying that disposing of artificial birth control will change your entire perspective on sex, your spouse, and your marriage. In making this decision together, you’ll both be sending the other person a message – and don’t let that message to be “I love you, but not enough to accept the possibility that our love might create a new life who is part of both of us.”. How would you feel if your wife whispered in your ear, “I love you dear, but I abhor the thought of carrying your child”?  It would kill the mood for me too. Opening yourself to life might add a spark and excitement that has been absent far too long, and the message it sends about love and acceptance to the other person works wonders on the intimacy level which can be achieved.

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 cc70458@gmail.com if you’d like to pass anything on.

 

Soulmates

8 Jan

Soul Mates“, the very term conjures up images of a relationship so deep and comfortable that one blissfully sinks into it without a care or thought toward any distractions to their partner or from their partner. Often these daydreams include visions of our idea of the most physically attractive partner we can imagine paired with a mind always in agreement with our own and seeking nothing for itself.

Of course, one wakes from these daydreams and distractions eventually and realizes the truth is much closer to home. For me it was my grandparents who despite their advanced years remained very much actively in love, playful with each other, very physically affectionate, and while capable of vehement disagreements they were capable of having them without anger or malice of any kind towards each other. They also regularly finished each others sentences and when queried by a third party they often responded in unison. I remember that each had the uncanny ability to predict exactly what the other would say when asked a specific question – but this never stopped them from communicating. Their interests diverged dramatically in many respects with his being favorites in things like flying, woodworking, and mechanics. Hers lay in travel, art,  and culinary exploration. Rather than their diversity being a source of derisiveness, having such divergent interests allowed them to better complement each other. They had married very young by today’s standards, and had been married for well over 50 years.

I remember one seminal moment when the doctor came to see my grandfather when he and my grandmother were both in the hospital. My grandmother had been at home, sleepless with worry (as my grandfather had had a recent bout with Lupus) and busying herself with cooking for family and watching the Travel Channel as she plotted whether or not there was yet another place she needed to see in person. She had a favorite stool at her kitchen’s island and it was old and worn. She fell asleep on the stool and suddenly fell sideways breaking her hip. She had been suffering from heart problems making it necessary for them to wait a few days for the replacement surgery and as she did her health seemed to deteriorate quickly. She too soon had caught an infection and the fever set in. The surgery never happened and she became bedridden – home care was arranged but she seemed to wilt as she realized her life would never be the same.

My grandfather aided by family watched over and cared for her – but eventually she needed in-patient care to stabilize her and she was transferred to the hospital. About the same time, and though my grandfather had been quite healthy and vigorous, a small wound on his foot had become infected, the infection reached the bone, and a partial amputation followed. Soon a systemic infection set in and this burly and powerful man was laid low by the smallest of creation’s creatures and they were in the hospital together in separate rooms on separate floors.

I was visiting him one day when the doctor came in and told him that he had finally turned the corner and if things continued he would be going home the next week. He immediately brightened up, and told the doctor how good it would be to be back at home with his wife. The doctor paused, and carefully explained that he would be going home – his wife was another matter and that he should expect that she would never go home again. Her prognosis was very grim, and with that, his dreams of being back at home with her again were dashed like a crystal vase on a tile floor. I saw it in his eyes and face. It was like the emotion drained out of him. His eyes which once sparkled and glittered now dimmed and dulled, his expression became solemn and lifeless, and he seemed smaller and suddenly weak. In addition, because of his prior infection and her weakened state he would be not be permitted to see her in person or be in the same room, much less have any form of physical contact. He nodded to the doctor, and without saying a word lay back in the bed and closed his eyes. He almost whispered, “I’m so tired, and I just can’t face going home without her…”. A tear rolled down the cheek of the one man I had never seen cry. He refused food and drink. The next night he passed away quietly and wordlessly, as if to use silence to say “there is nothing more to be said”. I never saw him alive again.

There was great consternation about whether or not to tell my grandmother what had happened.  The fever had taken her for days at a time and her lucidity came and went like a flickering porch lamp. Often when she was lucid it didn’t last long enough to impart any useful information, as she often didn’t know where or when she was. A few days after he died though, I had come in from a work trip to see her. They had warned me she was slipping away, and it had been a rush to beat the reaper so that we could say our goodbyes. I was awash in emotion and trying very hard to hold it together, but when I walked in she was alert and sitting up and talking up a storm. As soon as I walked in the door she blurted out to me “He’s dead you know. He’s gone. He left without me. Oh it’s so good to see you!”. We had a lovely conversation during which I told her about work and her great-grandchild, and got to laugh and cry together. It wasn’t to last, as the day wore on she started to fade. She knew she couldn’t go home and kept repeating “He’s gone, and I miss him so much. I just want to be with him again… even if for a short time, I forgot to tell him I’ll always love him…” throughout the evening. She asked me to hold her hand because she was scared,and Grampa wasn’t there to do it. I did, I sat by her bed and held her hand for the next few hours and the family piled into her room and the children played, the adults argued about inane trivia, and we all watched a TV game show she had been following. At some point I noticed that she no longer had a pulse. She still had my hand tightly gripped when she passed away, with wisp of a smile on her face. They died within a week of each other and Thanksgiving is always tinged with sadness at their loss and thankfulness for the mercy that they were able to not only live together but die together, so that she was not subjected to the loneliness and despair that his loss caused her any longer than was necessary.

They were soul mates. Their shining example of a harmonious marriage built on a foundation of service to each other, mutual love and affection, and an abundance of  joy made a lasting imprint on me. When she met the woman who would later become my wife, her primary concern was that she would not be fully aware of  the task of caring for a husband in the manner of the example I had been raised to expect. They both spent endless hours as I grew up imparting wisdom and instructions on how to care for your partner and maintain a happy and balanced marriage. She did the same for my fiancee, both before and after the marriage. At one point she provided my wife a recipe box containing my favorite foods to help her in caring for me as the military was about to take my new family far from home. Her only criteria for a good spouse was that they were also my best friend and that they truly love me and care for me, so that she could one day leave this world confident that I was in good hands. She abhorred divorce as the child of a broken home, and often reiterated that “we make ourselves happy.  Your husband or wife simply shares the joy you create.” It was her greatest hope that I would find my soulmate, but she also insisted that soulmates were made and not found, and that developing a marriage to that point would take more years than she would live to see. I know for a fact, that they are both very proud and happy for what we found together and then built upon over the intervening years. By growing together instead of apart through joy and adversity, we, too, have become Soulmates.

Picture of my Grandparents

My Grandparents

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 cc70458@gmail.com if you’d like to pass anything on.

Whats in a Ring?

6 Jan

Hand with wedding ring clearly visible

My Wedding Band

What is your wedding ring to you? Is it simply a symbol of your marital status? Do you feel like it binds you? does it comfort you or is a source of discomfort to you? What memories or emotions does it evoke?

Since everyone will have completely different answers to all those questions (feel free to expound in the comments section), I am going to shortcut things by explaining what I have come to understand about this rather ancient symbol of marital union. Historically they were only given to the women and the tradition is documented all the way back to early Rome – and crosses almost all cultures in various forms (such as the Hindu use of Bichhiya or toe rings for an inestimable period of time) to represent that a woman was joined to a man. However, as our society has grown and evolved it has become a generally accepted tradition in much of the world to exchange rings in recognition that both husband and wife have claim on the other. In the Catholic Church, the priest blesses the rings themselves making the sacramental objects – ordained by the Holy Church, through the power of God, to bless and defend the marriage. This action takes the rings from the realms of symbolism and moves them to a very special place in our lives, our marriages, and our hearts.

I find my ring to be a great comfort, even when I was in the military and wearing it on my finger was a serious hazard to myself shipboard – it was moved to my “Dog Tags” where it was close to my heart and still on my person at all times. It serves as a reminder not only that I belong to someone, but that they belong to me and believe in me and value me enough to entrust their heart and future to my care. My ring has come to remind me of the joyful responsibility I undertook on my wedding day, and of the one person in this world who loves me more than anything or anyone else except God.

When one partner or the other removes their rings from their person, they are separating themselves from that sacred covenant. Distancing themselves from their commitment and promises, and in doing so turning away from the God who witnessed those vows. After all, if we cannot keep promises to each other – then how can we expect God to think we can keep our promises to him? If life were an ass-kicking contest then removing our wedding band is like competing after cutting off one of your legs – you have no support and both parties end up hurt and prostrate on the ground.

Did you ever think about the symbolism, each ring is free from the other yet inextricably bound – they are linked by love – a sort of quantum entanglement on a macro level (much like Einstein’s “Spooky Action at a distance”). The perfect circle symbolizing Eternity, the precious metal symbolizing the value of the bond, and the obvious placement a sign to all others that both you and your spouse are bound to each other and therefore off limits. It reminds me of the last words before we were pronounced husband and wife, “What God as joined together, let NO MAN put asunder”. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I realized that “No Man” included myself. My ring shines as a reminder to me not just of the commitment I have made, but of the commitment my wife also keeps. It reminds me that I am an integral part of another persons heart and soul, of their very existence, and that anything I do to damage that bond inevitably hurts myself, while anything I do to build or enrich it also has the same effect on me.

In the end, my wedding band is not a symbol. It is a physical manifestation of a joyful symbiotic relationship that transcends the limits of human understanding or reason. God created us for each other, not to be independent of each other. One is incomplete without the other, unstable – like a rudderless ship in heavy seas. My ring is that rudder, something I can touch to feel that connection in a physical way even when we are apart – and a reminder of the joy, contentment, and fulfillment that we continue to exchange every moment of every day – because whether in each others presence or separated by unimaginable distance, we are always together.

Please send Suggestion, reflections, questions, or comments to cc70458@gmail.com. I especially am interested in how other people view the rings on their fingers.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

5 Jan

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – these are the primary weapons we wield against ourselves. Having been hurt before we build walls to keep people from getting too close. This keeps you from getting hurt. These emotions stop you from loving and being loved, and while they do limit the amount you could possibly suffer, they also limit the depth of the joy you can feel.

Just for a day open yourself up a bit, then keep going – you cannot love a woman if you don’t trust her with your heart. The truth is, you can’t really feel loved back either unless you do. As long as we leave these walls up we remain separate. You cannot truly bond without exposing the hearts to be bonded. And once bonded, you cannot be separated without serious damage. However, the joy and contentment that you can share once bonded at the heart knows no boundaries in this life or the next.

Don’t shove her away because of your insecurity. Pull her closer for comfort and pray that The Lord watch over and protect your union, so that you might serve as an example to others of what is possible. In a world as dark as ours, even a single candle can give off a blinding light to help everyone find their way. Once you experience true love, you will find yourself unable to pry yourself away from it – and more importantly, you will never want to.

Consider that if you cannot love your own wife, how can you ever love God? What is lost to you when you fail to love is far more terrifying than any potential harm that may come to you from opening yourself up to her.

I sincerely pray that I might touch just one person’s heart, change one life, one marriage for the better. Because I know both how insignificant we are in this universe so vast that our small brains cannot comprehend its breadth and girth, and I also know how important each of us is to He that created us. He very literally sustains our immortal existence through his love alone. So important is love that If God should ever cease to love us, we would cease to exist. The same is true of our marriage if we should ever cease to love – it will cease to be as well.

Please send questions, remarks, comments, and criticism to cc70458@gmail.com

Try it, you might like it

4 Jan

Do something nice for your wife. Something thoughtful and unexpected which is designed to simply bring a smile to her lips and make her feel important, loved, and appreciated.

Now the hard part– do it without any expectation of recompense. Doing something because you can and it will brighten someone else’s day is a lost treasure in our society, which teaches us that the only things worth doing are those which benefit you in some way.

Random acts of kindness are their own reward. The reward is knowing that you have emulated Christ in some small way and feeling the love of God descend upon you. No earthly remuneration even comes close to that feeling. Scarier still is that the size of the feeling does not correspond to the act itself, but with the love with which it was done.

What confuses me is how so many can undertake this task for a perfect stranger but be unable to do the same for their spouse.

Take a moment out today and do something nice for her, something unexpected, and clear your mind of expectations. It does not need to be big — just done with great love. Smaller things are also more conducive to eliminating expectations of remuneration in any form. Some ideas to get you started:

1. Do a household chore you know she isn’t looking forward to

2. Bring her breakfast in bed (and leave the kitchen clean in the process)

3. Take her to a movie she wants to see

4. Pick her up for a surprise lunch together

5. Pitch in without being asked at whatever needs doing and smile about it

It will cost you little to nothing, and just might set an example worth emulation for your entire household. As the husband your actions, mood, and demeanor reflect the home. Make your actions loving, you mood peaceful and happy, and your demeanor kind.

Please send Suggestion, reflections, questions, or comments to cc70458@gmail.com

Selflessness

2 Jan

Marriage is best described as a lifetime of mutual joyful servitude. It’s funny just how many men read their Bible, and especially certain passages which make clear that the wife’s body belongs to her husband (1st Corinthians 7:3), and then stop reading abruptly lest they see also that the husband’s body is the property of the wife.

In marriage a husband and wife belong to each other. Stop for a moment and think about the implications. Your body is not yours to do with as you will. It belongs to your wife. Freely given as a marital gift between both parties, your bodies become the joyful responsibility of each other. This also provides the basis for the admonition by Paul not to deny each other in general.

You might think that this does not apply, since only women withhold themselves, right? However, that does not explain the large number of women who often feel it difficult, if not impossible, to bring their husbands to the marital bed. Often even the strongest encouragement fails to break his attention from a TV show or a ball game, and leaves the wife feeling unwanted, unloved, and unattractive. As husbands, on the other hand, we tend to expect our wives to drop everything and tend to our needs joyfully and enthusiastically.

Like most every issue couples can have with the marital embrace, the root problem is selfishness. It’s a pernicious evil which infects all aspects of our relationship and poisons it from the inside. Worse is that selfishness is contagious and spreads like a plague between the partners and within all aspects of their marriage. In order to put our selfishness into check and make a good start on exterminating it from our marriage, you should consider taking the following steps.

1. Respond to her with the same joyful enthusiasm you would want her to show you when a request is made upon you, whether she as asking for help with the dishes or trying to pry you from the television for some intimate time.

2. Never refuse her if you can accommodate her. Keep in mind that you are very literally hers. Don’t renege on that vow for any reason, especially not a television show. Doing so damages the bond between you and weakens your vows in general. It also sets a precedent you may later find frustrating.

3. Always say thank you. Whether it was for help with dishes or hours of intimacy, let her know that you are happy to offer yourself in service to her. Never let her feel that her needs from you are a burden. Show her that she is a responsibility joyfully accepted.

4. Be kind, gentle, and considerate. When you make any request of your wife, remember she is not a slave. She is a willing servant just as you are. Remember that you both are bound servants of God, as well. Keep in mind that God is watching, always. If that won’t temper your actions then nothing will. Never ask anything of her if you are unwilling to reciprocate.

5. Be selfless. It’s easy to be taken advantage of, but trust must be built. As the husband, the task of going first falls to you. It may take a concerted effort over a period of time or bear fruit immediately. In any case, it is your marital duty to persevere in this endeavor. Do joyfully for her without expectation and rely on God to work in her heart.

When two people devote themselves body and soul to the service of the other with the end goal of arriving together in heaven, the beauty of the relationship on Earth outshines anything you can imagine. The seed of a love which sprouts only under these conditions is planted and nurtured by joyful submission and service to each other as is appropriate to their station.

Please send any commend, remarks, questions, or suggestions to cc70458@gmail.com

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