MOST PEOPLE PUT a lot of time, money and energy into preparing for a wedding. The day comes and goes. What remains? Only beautiful memories and photographs.

Marriage, however, is for a lifetime of wedding days. It is God who calls and chooses them for this holy vocation of matrimony and provides them the grace to be channels of his love and life to each other, in word and deed. He is the silent third party in this covenant relationship. If couples are aware of his presence and grace, whatever the circumstances they face, they will receive the necessary help to love and cherish each other.

Through living God’s plan for their marriage, couples become holy and witness as disciples of Jesus to their children and neighbours. Holiness, however, is not attained by throwing holy water on each other to exorcise the other’s weaknesses. Witnessing is not shown through preaching or moralizing. Discipleship is not to prove one’s spiritual superiority. A couple does not always have to agree about everything. Spouses may often feel upset, hurt, angry or impatient with each other.

After a few weeks or months of living together, when their expectations are not met and a husband and wife become aware of each other’s failings and weaknesses, they may feel disillusioned. What was attractive in your spouse now gets on your nerves. Work, friends, children, even prayer meetings can be good escapes from each other. Can I find satisfaction by myself without my spouse, as a married single? Disillusionment leads to misery. Some spouses do not even quarrel but act cold and distant, living like strangers in the same house.

Spouses need to make time to listen and to share deeply with each other. They need to resolve conflicts and be enriched by their differences. They need to pray together for the grace to love.

Every marriage has to face ups and downs ... sicknesses, financial problems, unexpected pregnancies, unemployment, hurts, failures, etc. When a couple stops praying together and loses sight of Jesus’ presence in their relationship, they begin to nag, manipulate, blame, act defensive, superior, cold or indifferent to each other.

But Jesus invites them to forgive each other, to enter into each other’s world to listen, understand, comfort, appreciate and heal each other. Beginning again after a quarrel refreshes the marriage and helps them to be channels of his love to one another.

A man and woman are sexual in their relationship. They are male or female in every aspect of their personality and behaviour, which is why they got married. Through word and touch, they reach out to express their love and need for each other. This is the way God created them so that they would be help-mates and companions to each other. Even after the child-bearing age, after menopause and in old age, they still need to express their conjugal love for each other. This is the way God comes to love, understand, comfort, forgive, heal and unite them.

It is not always easy to be a disciple of Jesus. Joy is not an absence of suffering but the presence of God. A couple
may experience suffering and sacrifice and can still be joyful as they share God’ love with each other and their children.

Marriage is a school of discipleship. Jesus invites married couples to love one another as he loves them. He walks with them and is always there to strengthen, comfort, forgive and heal them through each other.

So it is important to walk humbly with Jesus and to allow him to make yours his hands and voice to each other. He has no other hands but yours to touch, heal and bring each other to life. He has no other voice to love, affirm and comfort each other. Yes, he is with you on your journey through a lifetime of wedding days. - By Father Peter De Sousa

Note: Marriage Encounter Weekends are conducted on the first Friday of each month. For more information, visit www.marriage-encounter-sg.org.

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