REFLECTION: When a marriage sours PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 10 November 2014 11:09

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

It’s truly depressing when we hear about a marriage going sour. What began as a happy event, complete with fervent affirmations of love, commitment and self-giving, now looks dry and lifeless, and even showing traces of hostility.

But we should never allow sadness, let alone discouragement to dominate us. Failures in life are at best temporary, unless we persist in making them permanent. There is always hope. Solutions to problems are always available. Cures and remedies to whatever is wrong are all there for the asking.

We need to face marital problems with hope and optimism. And so, we need to review a few points to put this issue in its proper perspective with the view of helping everyone involved in these cases—the spouses themselves and those who are in a position to help, like relatives, friends, priests, counselors—resolve the issue effectively.

First of all, we have to look into how couples are prepared for marriage. The couples themselves have to be sure it’s true love that leads them to make a lifelong and all- embracing commitment of marriage.

This love cannot be other than a vital sharing of the love of God, who is the very source, pattern, end and power of love. When this fundamental principle is not clear, we would already have a big problem in the making.

All the pre-marriage classes and seminars given by the parishes and other groups should clarify the true nature and character of marriage as well as its purpose and essential properties of unity and indissolubility.

They should explain why marriage based on true love is very important for the health of the family and of society. Moreover, it should be made clear that marriage is actually a divine vocation, a true, heroic path to sanctity for the couple, where their relation with God is very much at play.

Since it is also a sacrament for the Catholics, marriage is where Christ himself acts as guarantor for its vitality and fruitfulness. Especially when problems and difficulties come, the couples have to be assured of Christ’s grace and support.

The couples have to understand then that marriage has to be approached with a theological mind using spiritual and supernatural means, and not just with some purely human motives using merely material and human means.

They have to understand that to keep their marriage going, the couples need to have first of all as an indispensable requirement a healthy spiritual life, based on prayer, sacrifice, recourse to the sacraments, study of the doctrine, and that attitude of welcoming a continuing process of conversion throughout life.

They have to realize that they need to bank on some effective program of spiritual growth through an on-going system of formation, nourished by specific acts of piety.

They need to continue developing their love for each other, each one “conquering” each other every day by looking for things that would make the other feel loved. The courtship should never end, but should rather evolve into more mature manifestations.

It is in this way that they will keep their love young and strong, ever renewed and able to cope with changing circumstances and situations. Even if physically they will unavoidably suffer decline, their love will continue to be vibrant and creative.

Love, if it’s true and is taken seriously, is always inventive. It knows how to find ways to enter into the heart of the other spouse. No event, whether of the successful type or the opposite, would be a hindrance for love to express itself and grow.

All concerns, trials, challenges and difficulties are faced and tackled with love as the be-all and end-all. They should never be pursued purely on the technical level or for some practical purposes alone.

The search for work and financial stability, for example, should be inspired and subordinated to the love of the spouse and the family. If that search would undermine the love due to the spouse and the family, then it would not be worthwhile.

Obviously, sacrifices will be involved in marriage and family life. Everyone should try his or her best to be generous in this area. But to be realistic, everyone should also be prudent enough to assess up to what point the other spouse can take in terms of sacrifices.

That’s why constant, intimate dialogue between spouses is a must. Everything has to be done to facilitate that dialogue, making it as pleasant and positive as possible. The art of tactful discussion should be learned carefully, considering the varying temperaments, moods, physical and emotional states the couple can find themselves in.