Saturday, January 07, 2006

Je le recherche toujours que mon âme aime

As I alluded in an earlier post, I am going to be married this June. Unlike most traditional June brides, I am not young (still deludedly calling myself "middle-aged") and, unlike most of the current crop of June brides, I actually blush. I am delighted, our almost-grown children are very supportive, and, to the surprise of both of us, we are being blessed in mid-life by something we never expected to happen.

Although I have known my fiancé for over 30 years with commonly-held memories and a deep faith, our experiences of life have often been different. I was happily and sacramentally married for 26 years before the death of my husband of cancer in early 2003. My beloved intended had a far different experience of the married state, unhappily (and, it turns out, invalidly) linked to his daughter's mother for 7 years before she left him and their young daughter for different pastures. As you can imagine, we tend toward distinctly different expectations of the married state. Thanks to God's abundant grace, the wise counsel of others, and the God-given ability we have had to communicate with courage, we have grown into a mutual hope for a genuinely blessed marital union.

The circumstances have given us a chance to explore the nature of true sacramental marriage more deeply than we might otherwise have done. Henry learned a lot through the annulment process. I learned more experientially what kind of bond God creates through the sacrament of matrimony. Now, we are learning together about growing into oneness.

I find a lot of meaning in Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. The marital bond between Christ and his Church (that is us, folks) speaks volumes to my heart of the depth of love and union that God originally intended for Adam and Eve, the restoration of much of that through the redemption of the Cross, and the amazing fullness that we will know when we join him in heaven. As I anticipate and work toward marriage, I can smell a whiff of the resemblance between true union with my husband and our eventual complete union with God. It makes me want to be as pure and conformed to Christ as possible so that we won't put up blockages between ourselves or between us and the Lord from whom our whole lives are suspended.

Gee, I meant to be concrete and specific, and here I am flying off into theological metaphor and being "spiritual." I can't help it. I am caught in the concrete preparations for the wedding, of course, but they resemble reality only in the way that keeping the kitchen clean contributes to sustaining a loving and hospitable home -- necessary but falling far short of the overall truth.

So help me here. What is it I'm trying to say? What have you found to be true? What do you imagine?


Kate said...

Gosh, with only a year 1/2 under my belt I'm not sure what I can say, other than that I am grateful to be joined in a sacramental and holy union - and that I am mystified that any marriage can last without shared prayer. Prayer together really is the glue that holds Liam and I together.

When we were preparing for our wedding, we used to remind each other often that the wedding preperations were not nearly as important as the marriage preperations - something I am sure you realize. In the end, so long as the two of you, the priest, and a witness or two show up, the wedding was a success - regardless of the reception, the food, the bridesmaid's dresses, and your second cousins opinion of the flowers. If you're married at the end of the day, than it has been everything a wedding can be. I had a wonderful wedding and reception, but it is the marriage preperation and the things we learned in the months leading up to the wedding which have lasted and see daily use.

So here's wishing you peace in your preperation and a wonderful marriage!

Julie D. said...

*raising hand while slouching in desk*

Ms. Roz, ma'am? I'm sorry, what was the question? I'm confused.

Therese Z said...

I think the question is "how do you see marriage from your own personal state in life: married, divorced, single. What is the goal? What were yours? Are they now more in conformity with God's Will? How would we recognize your deliberate intent to live your marriage within God's Sight?"

I think.

I know, from my own experience with the annulment process, that marriage IS oneness, but oneness through God's Oneness with our souls. Now I'm not sure I'm being very concrete. When something that society has somewhat diminished into a legal contract celebrating by a really bitchin' party can become mystical to me, then I know that God has entered into my thinking about it, and that comforts me, whether I ever re-marry or not.

I cannot wait for more theology and metaphor and "flying off" into the spiritual side of it. As much I look forward to hearing how cool and loving and intelligent people like you plan a wedding that suits your lives and styles, I'll learn more from your theological flights.

Roz said...

I tend to be global, intuitive, and big-picture. Life is often concrete, linear and detailed. I can only hope that my tendency toward the 60,000 foot view prepares me adequately for the nitty gritty of Life with Husband.

You might think that I've had plenty of practice, and in a way that's true. But Henry is far from just a successor to the throne of my heart. He has carved a place all his own, and being a good wife to this particular good man is going to be a new adventure.

Thanks, Kate, for highlighting the difference between wedding preparations and marriage preparations. You're right. We are blessed with a good mentor couple through the parish's preparation program, and they're going to give us extra opportunity to grow by letting us try out a different set of materials based on the Theology of the Body. I haven't started reading yet, but doesn't that sound great?

Roz said...

Julie, just tell me anything you think might be helpful. I want to suck up wisdom. Got any handy? :-)

Therese Z said...

"I tend to be global, intuitive, and big-picture. Life is often concrete, linear and detailed. I can only hope that my tendency toward the 60,000 foot view prepares me adequately for the nitty gritty of Life with Husband."

See, that's what I was trying to say. Tending to be concrete, linear and detailed, INSTEAD of global, intuitive and big-picture, I wonder how I would approach marriage in particular for me, or marriage among my friends in general, by looking at the over-arching UNION of marriage through Christ. I know it wasn't part of my first marriage; without Christ, my idea of over-arching was, at most, the good of society. Most definitely not the glory of God.

While you are sharing the Theology of the Body marriage materials, I hope you will also share the charismatic aspects of your worship and how they affect your approach towards the wedding day itself and the life afterwards.

alicia said...

another blogger weds blogger union - yeah!!!!!!!!!
two bits of advice on being married that have helped us the last 32 (in February) years.

1) the first 100 years are the hardest
2) in a dispute, if you discover that you are in the right, applogize immediately (and then shut up)
My personal advice:
Take time to nurture your marriage in the sight of God. Pray together, go on retreats together, take pilgrimage vacations. Remember that 7 x 70 means a lot of forgiveness. Read to each other. Turn off the radio in the car and talk.

Julie D. said...

just tell me anything you think might be helpful. I want to suck up wisdom. Got any handy? :-)

Ummm, probably not but what Alicia said is good. Although if I am right I don't apologize but I also don't push it. I have learned to shut up after making my point once or twice. And that is HARD!

My main advice (hard earned this past year especially, which is our 21st of marriage) is to not let daily life get in the way of some "together time" with your spouse. If you can do some little thing each week (even if it is as little as taking out the trash for the person who usually does it) to show you are thinking of them, well, it goes a long, long way. As you don't have small kids that will be easier but it still can be so difficult. A weekly date, a little gesture, a time when you have stayed calm while they are allowed to rant about the thing that you have heard them rant about 57 times before ... to us at this point in our marriage, these are the visible signs of love.

Kate said...

Here's a bit of advice that we appreciated. Apparently, studies show that relationships that have an equal amount of positive and negative interactions eventually disintegrate. 5 times as many positives as negatives will put you in a stable holding pattern. But increase that to 10 or 20 times as much positive as negative - and those relationships soar!

It's a nice concrete number to bring big picture people down to earth and give details people something to count. ;-) helps. A solid foundation of building up my husband through word and deed gives him the security to listen on those odd occasions I need to tell him something unpleasant, and helps him forgive me on those occasions when I am unpleasant. And I know that it does me good to hear positive things from him, or be surprised by a hug from behind (or not surprised...we are still basically newlyweds after all ;-)) or any of the other million ways Liam lets me know how much he loves me.

I'm looking forward to hearing about the TotB marriage prep you're doing. We loved our FOCCUS/mentor couple prep from the parish, and I have studied the Theology of the Body, so its not new to me, but I imagine it would have even more meaning for the two of you. I know that a lot of what I studied makes much more concrete sense now that I am married than it did in my innocent maidenly days. ;-)

Ooh, that reminds me - I should reread Wojtyla's "Love and Responsibility". Actually, you should read it! Its a little (ok, a lot) philosophical, but very insightful.

Thanks for letting us have this conversation on your blog, Roz - this is one of my favorite topics!

TS said...

Touch and/or hug your spouse five times a day - physical closeness overcometh much, which is why God gave us the Eucharist.

Roz said...

What you all are suggesting reminds me of a piece of research I read once. Couples in which the spouses respond positively (even if only briefly) to an initiation from the other, such as an observation, question or remark, are far less likely to divorce than those in which bids for interaction are ignored or met with negative response.

Gee, that seems only polite to me.

Anonymous said...

25.5 years in (but who's counting!), I can vouch for the fact that politeness -- even civility -- goes quite a long way. But further, kindness on the order of what is expressed in Ephesians 4:32 is the glue of our marital delight. (I include v. 31 in the reference only because it serves as a quick check against anything that sows discord.)

Many blessings to you, individually and together.

Deborah said...

After 26.5 years of marriage and counting, I have come to realize how wrong my conception of marriage as a 50-50 relationship is/was.
In fact, it is a 100-100 relationship. I thank God for this insight, because it makes everything so much easier. Knowing that your spouse is fully responsible and committed, as are you, is such a blessing and gives such a life-giving sense of freedom.
During our marriage ceremony, our minister read something that my husband and I had written for the event. We envisioned ourselves as starting out at the bottom points of an equilateral triangle (O, math, how thou dost rear thy head long past the studies of my youth!).
God was at the top of our relationship. I know a lot of people have posted here about how getting closer to God benefited their marriage. A good point.
Here's another: The closer we get to each other in ascending the sides of the relationship triangle, the closer we get to God.
As my son says: Bonus!!!
As for advice, Roz, you are the pro. Enjoy every bit of this. And know that this family rejoices in the creation of another one.
We are not defined by our differences but by what we share.
Deb xoxo

Tom McMahon said...

I while ago I ran the post Mrs. Fred Allen, Portland Hoffa, Celebrated Two Silver Wedding Anniversaries. Maybe you'll join her in this exclusive club!



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