Today hubby and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Which is weird since I’m in my 40’s. What? I’m not? Well, if I’m a bit unrealistic about the passage of time, pondering this milestone has made me realize a few things about the institution in which we find ourselves committed. While you pointed out that there are very few saints who are moms, I would like to add that there are also few married saints. Because of the strictures of religious life? No, I’d argue it’s because marriage can really bring out the worst in us. After all, who else but your spouse drives you to thoughts of mayhem over the way he loads the dishwasher? Who else makes you long for life in solitary confinement if she tells that story ONE MORE TIME? I know a couple who fought for two days (on their honeymoon, no less) over whether penguins laid eggs. My friend swears she considered divorce three days into marriage because her new husband wouldn’t believe that penguins are birds.
Yes, sometimes it isn’t pretty, but if marriage can reveal our faults, it can also bring out our best. When we embrace the selfless love required of the sacrament, it matures us in a way nothing else does. I hear young people (and not-so-young-people) say they just “aren’t ready” for marriage. But really–who is? You walk down the aisle into your future, knowing nothing for certain except that you have your best friend by your side.
As we professed our vows on that November day, I didn’t know what marriage would bring and neither did he. I knew I trusted him implicitly and I loved his beautiful blue eyes. Hubby knew I was brilliant and charming (because I told him so) but we didn’t know how we’d handle what life held in store, or even what those challenges would be. We didn’t know the people, the couple, we’d become as a result of those challenges. We just knew we were committed to each other, come what may.
We Catholics are blessed to believe that marriage is a sacrament, a representation of Jesus’s union with His church. Just as Jesus loves us despite our faults, so we are called to accept our spouses’ failings. (Really, God? Even the snoring?) By the same token, Jesus also knows the good in us and calls us to move beyond our own failings. Matthew Kelly says that being the best version of ourselves is the greatest gift we can give to those we love, and to God. Who better to help you be the best version of yourself but your spouse? Shared values are vital to a marriage and you are truly blessed if you have someone who challenges you to be the best you though those values.
Hubby and I haven’t found some secret to the perfect marriage by any means. He’s disappointed me at times and heaven knows I’ve let him down in more ways than I care to admit. We’ve had fights big and small (though hubby does know penguins lay eggs–at least we didn’t have that issue). But one thing we both know is that we are in this life together. Marriage has matured us, tested us and brought out the good, the bad and the ugly. But if we are lucky we will get 30 more years to help each other be the best version of ourselves. (And if we do, I’ll only be in my 60’s, right?)
*For those who are considering marriage, this article posts some excellent questions to ask yourself about your potential mate. Good advice at any age!