It is safe to say that every human person has a strong desire to be loved and, in return, to love. People spend their lives dedicated to learning to love themselves, another person, and striving to understand its true meaning. It all makes sense when we consider that we are all made by Love himself, for love, and to love. It is written on our hearts and most importantly is evident in the creation of our bodies as male and female. God designed us to be a gift to one another. One of the greatest examples of this is the union between man and woman within the Sacrament of Marriage. The heartbreaking truth is that many young adults are opting out of marriage because of fear of divorce, and disbelief in a lasting, beautiful love.
When looking around at the genuine and fruitful marriages in our communities and families, there are generally three common traits you can detect. Namely, God’s love overflowing for each other and towards God, true intimacy, and finally forgiveness.
This is reiterated in a video that Christopher West, bestselling author of Introduction to Theology of the Body and world-renowned speaker, posted on Youtube called “What Makes a Marriage Successful: 3 Secrets of a Successful Marriage.” West, in his books and videos, often refers to receiving God’s Love like receiving the best wine as depicted in the biblical story of the Wedding feast of Cana. In this story, the guests were at the mercy of Christ. Not only did he fulfill their desires but also he created an abundance of the finest wine. This story represents our own marriage and pointing our hearts and desires to Christ, he is waiting to pour into us the Graces and love we need. Naturally, we question ourselves, how to obtain God’s love within marriage? The most important part is to start with a sacramental Catholic marriage. Leslie Kuhlman, Executive Director of Ruah Woods, says, “If you are married in the Church, in the Sacrament of Matrimony, you are marinating in God’s grace which help you live a successful marriage… The couple needs God’s grace to make this work!”
Furthermore, each person within the marriage encounters Christ individually, through prayer and the sacraments. Pray for each other and with one another, as well as encourage the frequent reception of the sacraments. Ultimately, our marriage is a visible representation of the love that God wants to have with every human. Reading the Song of Songs together is a beautiful way to grow in understanding of marriage and God’s heart. The unity between husband and wife, the communication of romance and outpouring of love for another, should imitate the heavenly marriage between God and ourselves.
In loving God with each other in marriage, it allows us to offer ourselves freely as a gift to one another. We can cultivate an intimate relationship beyond the sexual nature. Intimacy is not just the sexual bond. It is allowing the other to see you completely as God created you. It is discovering the other, mind and soul, and sharing your heart. In West’s video, he talks about intimacy. In summary when we allow our spouse to gaze into our hearts there are discoveries that they find that we may not even know exist. This takes courage and true vulnerability. It does not have to be scary, learn to date one another within your marriage, to pursue each other’s hearts.
In addition, understand that our spouse could never fully satisfy our hearts. C.S. Lewis says it best,
“If I find in myself desires that nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
When our spouse fails to understand and care for our hearts tenderly, and they will because we are fallen humans beings, we have to learn to forgive.
When asked, ‘what is something that makes your marriage last?’ many couples responded with forgiveness. Not only do you have to be willing to forgive your spouse, but also be willing to understand we are fallen and need forgiveness as well. There is so much to explore on the idea of forgiveness but to sum it up Alexander Pope, an English Poet wrote, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” Reflecting on this helps us to realize our weakness and dependence on Christ and gives us compassion for the other. Stay close to the Sacrament of Confession, it will allow you the Grace to forgive if you simply ask.
The topic of a lasting and fruitful love is one that is endless. It all boils down to centering your life and marriage on Christ, learning true and courageous intimacy, and understanding we are all fallen and thus need forgiveness in our hearts. If we learn and understand this, through the teachings of the church, diving deeper into Theology of the Body, and keeping close to the sacraments, we allow God to enter our hearts and marriage, which in turn helps us on the right path to a successful and lasting love.
Written by, Diana Weckenbrock,
Communications Coordinator at Ruah Woods
Previously Published in The Messenger,
Catholic Newspaper for the Diocese of Covington, KY
Christopher West’s Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiCm9tR4Kcs
Introduction to Theology of the Body by Christopher West
Leslie Kuhlman, Executive Director of Ruah Woods, a Theology of the Body Education Center
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