A Husband’s Love (The Love Project, Day 27)

“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, yet they seemed to him like a few days because of his love for her.”

Genesis 29:20

This week I’ve been reflecting on “love” passages in Scripture. In this Old Testament love story, two sisters vie for the affections of an ambitious young suitor. One, Leah, has “dull eyes” — is not as physically attractive as her younger sister, Rachel, whose bright eyes drew Jacob like fireflies to a porchlight. And yet, by the end of the story it is Leah who produces one son after another. There was more to her than met the eye.

Jacob labored fourteen years to get his heart’s desire . . . And in time, his heart expanded to include the woman who remained faithful, no matter what.

Today’s Love in Action: rachelleahDo you ever feel your husband’s affections are divided? Not with another person, perhaps — maybe it’s his work, his family, his church obligations. Have his eyes “dulled” over the years? What does Leah’s story say to you?

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“Marriage is like an amplifier…” from “Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious” (The Love Project, Day 16)

gohnToday I was reading Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious by Pat Gohn (Ave Maria Press), and was struck by the following passage about marriage. Can you relate?

Everything I liked or disliked about my man before I married increased in volume after marriage. I ran headlong into a wall of my selfishness and struggles for power, not to mention my own anger issues that erupted from my quick temper…. Putting others’ needs ahead of my own was harder than I had thought. I bristled when I could not control things.

Motherhood intensified my struggles, often reducing me to tears. I was profoundly disappointed with the shortcomings of my loe — my lack of achievement! I was trying to achieve in my marriage and achieve in my mothering the way I succeeded at school and at work, as if there were a performance scorecard attached to my efforts. “No greater love” required something more than the tyranny of perfectionism; it needed my attentiveness, my surrender, my sacrifice.

I don’t know if this is an experience common to all (or even most) women … but I could relate. The greatest challenges, I felt, was not in accepting the weaknesses and flaws of my family, but coming face to face — each and every day — with my own foibles and shortcomings.

I finally turned a corner when I came across this quote by St. Francis de Sales:

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.

Today’s Love in Action: What’s the one bad habit or character flaw you hate most about yourself? Got it? Good … now, what virtue do you need to put into practice that serves as the “antidote” to that particular bad habit? How will you start . . . today?

Weekend Ponderings: Somewhere in Time

Saturday night, Craig and I hired a sitter and went down to the Terrace Room where the Grand Hotel Orchestra was playing Big Band and soft pop tunes.

It had been some time since Craig and I had spun around the dance floor like that. Years, maybe. Our swing was a bit creaky, the waltz a bit wobbly … I hadn’t thought to bring my leather soles, and my slide-in sandals were about three inches taller than I usually wear.

Even so, it was wonderful. Sipping wine, listening to the sultry vocals, and watching couples hold tight to each other — it was a wonderful night of romance. In my mind’s eye, years and pounds rolled off us as we swayed to the music.

Upstairs, reality awaited. Each of us had a child in our bed, unwilling to sleep until we had returned. And to be honest, neither of us could keep our eyes open much past ten. But ah, for that hour … it was magic.

The thing I loved most about Mackinac, that isle of enchanted memories captured so well in the classic Somewhere in Time, was its ability to slow time almost to a standstill. And then, just when I least expected it … to rewind.

I’ve been back a few days now, and that lesson has stayed with me. Surely it doesn’t take the hundreds and hundreds of dollars it costs to stay at the Grand to achieve this kind of contentment. Just a little time, a little peace — and a whole lot less technology.

I think I’m going to turn off my computer now, and see if hubby’s up for a bit of slow dancing in the kitchen!

Weekend Ponderings: Are You Happy in Your Marriage?

This week at Mommy Monsters, I posted a reflection on the three directions — past, present, and future — the evil one directs his arrows at our hearts.

As I write this, I’m packing up the car to take a few days with my family, playing at Kalahari Water Park!  Please pray for us, for direction and … a renewed sense of family.

Lord, You created the sacrament of marriage.
It was YOUR idea to match us up, man and woman with children together,
to reflect Your communion of lov in the world.
Help us, Lord, so that when that reflection pales or distorts,
that we might turn to You again,
and in that turning, experience Your love anew.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen!

Today at CatholicMom.com: “A Loving, Sober Moment”

Today my latest column at CatholicMom.com is up, entitled “A Sober, Loving Moment.”

No matter how long you’ve been married, true intimacy is measured not in years but in sacrifice. For richer, for poorer — in sickness and in health — in freeze-dried, chocolate chip mint ice cream and a gentle covering of the afghan in the middle of the night.

We love not for what the other person does for us, but because of who we are when we are with that person. True love — the self-donating, unselfish variety — is one that gives more than it takes. It “believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” In a word, it keeps loving, no matter what.

Have you abandoned yourself entirely to your marriage?

Weekend Ponderings: A Girl Named Sara and 9/11

Last night I saw the WE program “9-11 Millionaire Widows.”  It describes the lives of several families of 9-11 victims, 3000 of whom received nearly $7 billion in compensation since their loved ones were killed in the Twin Towers attack.

Ironically, the image WE used on their website is not, technically, of a widow. Lisa Goldberg was a “partner” to Martin McWilliams, a fireman who was crushed in the North Tower when their daughter Sara was an infant. The couple was not married, McWilliams left no will — and his parents contested her right to accept the money on their granddaughter’s behalf. Granted, Lisa was the mother of their grandchild — but at the end of the day, she was not their son’s wife. In their eyes — and, as it turned out, in the eyes of the court — she had no legal standing.

Like many who sought compensation for their loses, Lisa claims it’s “not about the money.” “My existence with this man has been deleted. That’s the hardest thing that I have to live with, besides him really being gone.”

And yet, as I heard her speak, I couldn’t help but wonder: If they were so much in love, why on earth did they not get married? While marrying ONLY for the sake of an unplanned pregnancy is not always the best course, being in love AND having a child would seem to be a very good reason indeed. (Ironically, several articles about the show refer to McWilliams as Goldberg’s “husband,” and yet McWilliams’ mother indicates the couple were not even engaged at the time of her son’s death.) 

A “baby daddy” or “baby mamma” is not the same as a husband or a wife. If you’re going to create a family, for heaven’s sake … commit to it! On the other hand, if a couple brings a child into the world, but doesn’t have the confidence or commitment to formalize their union and create a real family, how can they expect the rest of society to “recognize” what does not in fact exist: a life-long, exclusive union between husband and wife? 

The marriage bond is the foundation on which every human society is built and sustained, and it provides the security every child needs.  In this scenario, it wasn’t the government or the legal system who let that little girl down . . . it was her parents.

Saturday’s Gospel speaks to this point. In the Book of Luke (6:43-49), Jesus says:

“…I will show you what someone is like who comes to me,
listens to my words, and acts on them.
That one is like a man building a house,
who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock;
when the flood came, the river burst against that house
but could not shake it because it had been well built.
But the one who listens and does not act
is like a person who built a house on the ground
without a foundation.
When the river burst against it,
it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”

What kind of foundation are you building on today? Has it been ordered according to God’s plan for the family — or your own preferences or opinions? If something happened to you today, if your “river burst,” would you leave behind a legacy of life . . . or self-indulgence?

Next week at CatholicExchange.com (9/15), I’ve posted an article about an upcoming movie called “Lost and Found Family.” Be sure to check it out!

The Gas Grill of Love: Heidi Bratton at CatholicExchange.com

11891-Two-Entwined-Golden-Wedding-Rings-Clipart-PictureIn her recent article entitled “How Serious Is Your Marriage,” my friend Heidi Bratton observes:

I think we’re a bunch of suburban cowboys living in a gas grill world. We want the flames of love, ignited with just one sparkling courtship and wedding, to keep leaping high while we go off and grab a beer.  But marriage is not even remotely like a gas grill.  Marriage, by its very nature, requires a long-term, personal investment, and not even on eBay will we find a bottomless tank of pressurized love to keep our marriage sizzling in our physical or emotional absence.

Click here to check out the whole article . . . wonderful food for thought!