Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Exquisite and Excruciating Life of Married Love -- a peek inside our marriage

When you stand at the altar and you make your vows, exchanging consent and exchanging rings, you do so with faith, hope, and love... for there is no crystal ball that allows you to see into the future. When I look back on my life thus far, my husband's constant love has been one of the more tangible evidences of God's love for me. And I truly believe that God had a plan for our marriage that far exceeded my own expectations. And I've learned that it's depth comes from the graces of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

It's a hard and beautiful call, this one, to love someone until death. But we are not without resources that come from the Master of Divine Love. That's why Catholics are taught that "it takes three" to make a marriage work: You, your spouse, and Jesus Christ.

This week's column at Patheos was spurred on my heartfelt sadness at certain legislative battles coming to Massachusetts (and you can be sure, to a state near you) and my rejection of some ideas suggested by a news item that seemingly gives married couples an out, an easier path to end their marriage when the going gets tough...especially when it comes to breaking the vow " sickness and in health."

I am a breast cancer survivor. A cancer was found early, increasing my chances of overcoming it. In 15 years of survivorship, I've known quite a few cancer survivors, and a number of marriages that fell apart in the trauma. Sometimes marriages, undergoing the stress of illness, have very high divorce rates.

I can only speak for me and Bob: If heaven is our goal, then, we pray and we stay. Love is elastic. It stretches, it grows. And it's worth everything we can give to it in the end. We're not saints. But we know some. And we know Jesus. And He has never left us.

So here's the opening of this week's offering from A Word in Season...

Like many survivors of breast cancer, I have some serious battle scars. My un-bandaged body after breast cancer certainly made for some interesting pillow talk between my husband and myself.
 Going into the crisis long ago, we barely considered what it would mean for our love when all you are trying to do is fight something that has the potential to kill you or your spouse. But when I was done with all the treatment… the question lingered unspoken in the air…What would our marriage look like -- or, stranger still --what would it feel like?
 I knew he loved me before all the surgeries. Fourteen happy years and three children assured me of that. But before that, we had never really, really been tested by heartache and loss like a cancer diagnosis brings.
 In the aftermath, I could not begin to fathom what our intimate moments might be like now that I had been surgically taken apart and permanently altered.
 He just smiled and kissed the boo-boos. And he never stopped.
 The miraculous healing power of lips to scars transformed the broken hearts and the marriage that cancer had tried to lay to waste, better than life-saving surgery could do.
 He later told me that it was graces of inviting Christ into our marriage on our wedding day -- the power of the vow permeating every aspect of our lives -- as well as the blessing of chastity that had come back to bless us in those first post-cancer episodes. We had stood at that altar and vowed to love one another -- sight unseen in terms of what would yet to be consummated -- pledging to accept the all of the other. 

Read the rest here.

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