REFLECTION: Husbands and wives PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 12 July 2014 11:13



As priest, I, of course, get consulted many times about marital issues. Husbands and wives come to ask about how to resolve certain challenges, difficulties and trials they are undergoing with their respective spouses.

I consider it a great privilege to be able to journey with couples in their marital and family life, and I just hope that I still can have time to continue enjoying this privilege.

Through the years, this experience has given me a deeper appreciation of the mystery of marriage where God’s abundant grace of marriage has to contend with the freedom of men and women that can go every which way.

And through the years, my conviction has also grown stronger and deeper that the most crucial thing to do to make marriage work as it should is to make the spouses become more human, more Christian, more in love with a love that is authentic and not fake, a love that can only come from God who is in fact the only source of love.

All the practical pieces of advice, I believe, have to start and end with God, have to make the couples closer to God. Of course, this truth may not have to be told to the concerned parties directly, bluntly and in the raw.

Many husbands and wives are not yet ready to grapple with the ultimate religious dimension of marriage. They find it hard to shift from being formalistic and casual to being serious and resolute about God’s role in marriage.

And so with gift of tongues, the suggestions and pieces of advice have to be couched in terms more immediately acceptable to them. The idea is not to scare them, but to lead them little by little to where the secret of marital success lies.

The secret is actually no secret, because it all too well known. Marriage is not a human invention. It is part of God’s creation, and as such has laws, requirements, means and purposes that have to be respected and followed as much as possible and with utmost freedom.

Marriage is love personified in two persons, a man and a woman, who in both their bodily and spiritual dimensions have to reflect the very love of God for us, the indestructible love of Christ for his Church.

The love required for marriage is none other than God’s love that goes all the way, that can weather all kinds of situations—for better, for worse, in health or in sickness, for richer or poorer till death do the spouses part.

That is why marriage has to be understood as a way of sanctification. It’s not just a human and much less a bodily need, or a social phenomenon, or a legal creation. It is where God’s grace is unleashed to sanctify the couple and the family they generate.

The family that springs from a good marriage would be a tremendous school that forms individual persons to be truly human and Christian.. It would also be crucial and indispensable living cell in society, training and contributing responsible and mature citizens.

All of these sublime properties of marriage, plus their endless implications, both theoretical and practical, have to be gradually learned. These properties should be presented in such a way they would know how to contend with the prosaic challenges of daily married and family life that often tend to twit and ridicule them.

In this regard, what would help is when the couples have some basic faith, hope and charity, and some basic forms of piety. With these, in spite of their limitations and mistakes, there is reason to hope that their marriage can move on.

But a practical advice for husbands and wives would be what St. Peter said in his first letter (chapter 3). Wives should be submissive to their husbands. Husbands should live considerately with their wives. Both should have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind.

In more concrete terms, husbands and wives should respect and trust each other. They don’t have to agree in all items and issues, as long as they know how to distinguish between what is essential and indispensable in marriage, and what is open to legitimate opinions and personal preferences.

Husbands and wives should, of course, try to give space to their individual personal preferences as well as be willing to give them up for the sake of greater peace and harmony in marriage and the family.

The language of true love involves giving up and losing that actually translates into gaining more and better things.