Marriage is Work

“Yeah, I’m getting divorced too,” one of my co-workers replied to my boss the other day. The two ladies then exchanged stories about their horrible husbands and that “awful institution” called “marriage.”

Both of their husbands cheated on them and both of them dealt with a multitude of other issues with their husbands that only served to add to the pain of their failed marriages. It was awful to hear what they went through, and I don’t blame them for feeling hurt by the whole experience.

“There’s so much of that out there!” my boss exclaimed. “I know one of my girlfriends who is cheating on her husband and I know a couple of other people where both of them are cheating. I guess you’re lucky if it doesn’t happen to you.”

Then my boss looked over at me and, knowing I’m engaged, said, “Sorry, but I never want to get married again.”

“No,” I wanted to say, “I’m sorry.”

But I didn’t get it out. I was too busy sorting through all of the reactions in my own head. I ended up remaining silent for the entire conversation because somehow I didn’t think that these women would understand.

I didn’t think they’d understand that if I said, “my fiancé and I are never going to have that issue” that my statement would be one of fact and confidence, not one of blind love and young bravado.

I didn’t think they’d understand what I mean if I said “marriage isn’t just a luck of the draw. It doesn’t work like a lottery.” Because, to them, it does, while for me, I know that it doesn’t. Marriage isn’t a drawing of the straws, where if your spouse cheats on you, well, “sorry, you just drew the short straw. There’s nothing you could have done to prevent it!” It’s not an institution where if you are a strong, happy, and healthy couple you’re just “the lucky ones.” It’s not an institution where the fates decide who “wins” and who “loses.” It’s not a promise you enter into like buying a lottery ticket – someone will win the jackpot while most people just buy empty tickets.

Yet this is how our society has been trained to see marriage. This approach to marriage has so infiltrated our society that people refuse to believe that there should be anything like “marriage prep,” because how do you prep yourself for a game of chance? There’s no way of making yourself any luckier, so why are you bothering to work on it? Our society has abandoned the idea that marriage is something you work on, and even more so, it has forgotten, and thus doesn’t understand, that marriage is a calling.

It is a foreign concept that one would be able to say with complete confidence “my spouse will never cheat on me.” And yet, I can say that. I can say that because I have a faith and a God who stand behind me in that statement. And I can say that because the love my fiancé and I share is not human, it is divine. We love each other because we love God and we have discovered that in loving one another, we get to love God more fully. Moreover, the love that we have for one another is divine in origin. God gave it to us at our baptism and it had a full 15-20ish years to grow and mature so that when we met, it blossomed.

That makes us blessed, but it does not make us lucky. We both worked hard on ourselves and on making God the center of our world before we even knew the other existed. In doing so, we returned to God the gift He gave us in that first sacrament. We returned to Him our hearts, and with them we returned to the Creator the divine love placed in our hearts for one another. God knows how to nourish our hearts and souls better than anyone. In nourishing our hearts, He nourished the love that grew in them for each other so that when we met, my soul immediately knew who my fiancé was. (And it only took me a couple of months to catch up with what my soul knew at first sight!)

We have a faith that can make these promises. Promises of faithfulness, love, commitment. Our faith allows us to make these promises because He who gave us love was faithful in His love until the end. He who originated love in our hearts died for us out of that same love. We as Catholics are granted the same strength of faithfulness to the end when we return our love to the one who is love. When we participate in making our love a sacrament, when we make a way for God’s grace to enter the world every day, when we demonstrate outwardly our inner devotion, we can say with full knowledge and confidence that we are not in a game of luck. We are in an institution of work and prayer, and we can rest assured that our success rests squarely on the shoulders of our prayerful work and the support of a God who made the universe.

Blessed Pope John Paul II is famous for his line: “man finds himself only in true gift of self.” If we only receive what we give away, then we must strive every day to give our hearts and our love back to Christ.

Giving a gift back doesn’t take luck. It takes work.

Emma Smith

By

Emma Smith graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Philosophy from Hillsdale College in May, 2013. While in school she served as Vice President of the pro-life club for 3 semesters and as On-Campus Mass Coordinator and Events Director for the Catholic Society for 4 semesters. Emma is passionate about her faith, her God, and all things pro-life. She currently works in both pro-life and Catholic ministries in the Diocese of Columbus. More of her work and writing can be accessed on her blog: http://paxlumen.blogspot.com

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  • Antonia

    “It is a foreign concept that one would be able to say with complete confidence “my spouse will never cheat on me.” And yet, I can say that.”

    No you can’t, Emma, because you don’t know the future. Being young, you may expect fidelity but you can’t guarantee it, especially over a long marriage.

    I wholeheartedly applaud your robust defence of true marriage: this May I will have been faithfully married for forty-five years and I have no doubt my husband has also been faithful to his marriage vows.

    So yes, fidelity is possible and I do congratulate you on your wonderful defence of true marriage – the one where a man and a woman solemnly make the ancient vows to be true to one another in sickness and in health until death.

    Sadly, most people have no understanding of the concept of a vow these days, so much so that a few years ago a Catholic priest in Australia opined that as modern people have no understanding of the meaning of a ‘vow’ he wondered whether anybody contracts a valid – as opposed to legal – marriage any more?

  • Tom

    Antonia. If marriage is understood as a vocation, God’s calling for you, the path by which God desires you to become a saint and be with him in heaven; and you know this for certain, why would you not have full confidence and faith that that person will be faithful to you for your entire life? After all, if they understand their calling and the covenant they have entered into with you, they understand that that covenant was made before God. That covenant is sacred. It is not meant to be broken. Ever. So why shouldn’t Emma be able to say that? She has it confirmed in the most powerful sign possible, and her future spouse understands this as well. Just because we can’t see the future does not mean we have no faith in it. I applaud her for trusting in God in this way. The line after the one you quoted says:

    “I can say that because I have a faith and a God who stands behind me in that statement.”

    She’s not saying it because she’s young and optimistic.

    She’s not saying that because she’s naïve.

    She’s saying that because she trusts God and knows that his love, manifested in the depth of the first sacrament, is more powerful than human expectations, the future, and probability.
    And to say that this faithfulness would be challenged over a longer marriage? As opposed to a shorter one? Spouses who live their vocation every day, growing in love by sacrificing themselves to each other grow in faithfulness, they do not become more open to infidelity. Temptation may arise, and challenging periods do come up, but what is this to the love of God? What is this to a love that is beyond the flesh? A love that unifies souls? If one is living an authentic, Catholic, sacramental marriage, (and probably practicing NFP), the love that you have for your spouse points to the divine love God has for his creation. This love surpasses all human weakness.
    The church has always affirmed the fidelity of marriage. This is not just an ideal to work towards, it is what marriage requires. It is God ordained. God doesn’t hand out probabilities. He is truth.
    This is not an issue of expectation, it is an issue of faith. That’s why Emma knows. She and her fiancé trust in God. If they trusted only in human love, probability would apply. But God’s love is constant. His love never fails.

  • Nick

    I will stay faithful to my spouse.
    My spouse will stay faithful to me.
    I won’t murder anyone.
    My spouse won’t murder anyone.

    I don’t know the future but I’m certain in those statements

  • Brandy Pearce

    Sorry, I get your point to an extent, but when one spouse cheats, it is not just something the other spouse could have prevented. Marriage is work, yes. However, cheating does not have to be worked out or tolerated, and it is a selfish behavior, not necessarily a provoked one. Catholic or not, sometimes the line has to be drawn out of respect for both the physical and emotional well-being for oneself, and it is not for us as mere mortals to judge whether or not someone else’s divorce is justified.

  • Beth

    Lovely article! Our culture definitely needs your message!! But I just wanted to say (and disregard if you’d like!), please don’t take for granted that your marriage will be so cheat proof. I agree with everything you’ve said, but I was you ten years ago. Today, we are very happily married, about to celebrate our 10th anniversary, and we have been abundantly blessed with six children. We are devout Catholics. But, I pray for my marriage every single day…for, the devil is real and temptations abound (even though we do our best to minimize them). We were almost married a year when I discovered that my marriage was not as perfect as I thought. I was heartbroken, but the end result was me realizing how much my spouse (for the first time, he came off his pedestal and I saw that he was not as strong as I gave him credit for) and our marriage need my prayers. I always pray for a holy and faithful marriage now…whereas before I just took it for granted that it would be so because we were on the same page during engagement! Blessings to you…marriage is work but it is such a beautiful vocation!

  • Mallory

    Tom, you say that God’s love is constant and His love never fails… that is true, but our spouses are not God and their love can fail. I agree with Antonia… our spouses’ fidelity is never guaranteed. If it were guaranteed, they would not have complete free will. That being said, spouses living out their Catholic faith fully (I would say being open to life, not ‘probably practicing NFP btw…) are in the position to be receiving God’s grace fully to help us live out our vocation. At one’s marriage it is necessary to vow without reservation to love our spouses until death do us part. At that moment, both people need to intend perfect fidelity. I applaud Emma’s confidence and faith in the marriage covenant insomuch as she obviously will enter her wedding day with a complete surrender of her heart to her spouse and God as she makes her vows. But to think that infidelity is a sign of unfaithfulness doesn’t make sense. (“This is not an issue of expectation, it is an issue of faith’ you said) What about all those little ways of being unfaithful? Moments of disillusionment, misordering priorities, allowing anger to wedge itself between spouses, gossiping or venting about one’s spouse, etc…. I think there are a myriad of ways that spouses are unfaithful to each other and doubt their vows. Even among the saints you can find examples of those who had unfaithful spouses. The most holy and faithful of marriage vows cannot ensure one’s spouse chooses to live a holy and faithful marriage over the entire life of the marriage.

    I think we shouldn’t expect or live in fear of our spouse’s infidelities. However, there is a line that should be drawn in recognizing where life is out of our control. If a spouse fails in some way, it may not be because they didn’t make their vow in earnest. It may just be that they sinned and fell short of the glory of God… which we all do in some way every day.

    Sin should not scandalize us and make us doubt whether our vows were true or not, but make us realize that we need God’s grace desperately. All of us need God’s forgiveness in our marriages at some point. Emma’s spouse will fail her in some way, but praise God that He gives us the grace to love our spouses like He loves us.

    Marriage IS work… it is my vocation, my path to holiness… but holiness does not come without the cross and we may pray that our spouses remain faithful, we may strive to remain faithful day-by-day, but I don’t think there is any guarantee that our spouse will honor their vows perfectly.

  • Mallory

    Thank you Beth for your comment. My husband and I are devout, practicing Catholics blessed with two beautiful children and it was five years into our marriage (recently) that he revealed to me how much he struggles with some sins. I was scandalized by this, realizing that things were not what I thought they were for our first five years together. You are definitely right, our marriages need prayer desperately and daily!!! I feel like only now do I see my marriage as it really is and see my husband as a man who is valiantly fighting to be the holy leader of our family. I am thankful that I see him in this weakness and need because it is reality: our world is a fallen place full of temptations. And, I have never needed to trust God so intensely to heal my heart and marriage. Marriage is work and it is a beautiful vocation full of blessings. Blessings to you and your fiance, Emma!!!

  • donko679

    Emma, you are right that marriage takes work. A LOT of work. A lot of prayer. It’s living every day trying to out-serve the other. ANYTIME either one of you start to forget this and become complacent you start losing ground, little by little. I wish I knew this when I got married.

    I have been married to my wonderful wife for 35 years this June. Only by the grace of God has our relationship stayed intact. Even through times of daily Mass with our children, life gets in the way. Things got very busy, raising a very large family, working 2 jobs and the pressures of finances, burned bacon, and broken shoelaces.

    It’s easy to forget about each other after 10 / 12 / 15 + years of marriage. I ended up cheating on my wife after 22 years of marriage. It was devastating to our relationship and our level of trust. I know I won’t get that level back. She has forgiven me and I got forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance. But it has affected our relationship and our whole family.

    I tell you this because Satan “…goes about like a roaring lion…”. He would love for you to be naive about this.

    So work hard, dear Emma, work hard. But pray harder. Stay very close to Our Lady, who will hide you in Her mantle. God bless you.

  • anonymous

    Forgiveness is a holy thing. God is definitely in your marriage.

    Emma speaks of a trust in God she mutually shares with her husband-to-be. I’d say that’s a real good foundation in the ’til death do they part.

    I’d also say that temptation in the form of infidelity or otherwise, will probably come around at one time or the other – fiercely. Just my guess because God can allow it in any way, shape, form, or time He pleases. This is exactly why God must be first, foremost, and center of the marriage of 3. Not one of us, not two of us becoming one, can do it without HIM. The more you Love, the less work it will be.

    I agree with donko679 – guard your marriage by being faithful to God and all the rest will fall into place.

  • Hannah

    Never say never dear. Trust me. A marriage centered around God has the devil all over it. He WILL tempt you both. Good for you for fighting for marriage. I am doing the same. Just don’t be surprised when the devil comes a knockin’. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • Ian

    Faith in God and making him the centre of your life is absolutely the right thing to do with just about anything, and definitely for marriage. Yet, please also bear in mind that the one of the most powerful destructive forces in modern unions is the sense of self-entitlement and unconscious self-righteousness that develops over time – and in this article, this insidious attitude is applied even toward the God you profess to love and trust. Using that logic, one could almost claim to be free from sin. Which, we all know, is impossible.
    I think some of you should take a peek sometime at the Retrouvaille programme run by the Catholic Church, and take a look at how many strong, committed, devout people took the step into marriage being as convinced and faithful as Emma is, and their personal hells as things unravelled despite their prayers, tears, and faith.
    Many fell. Many also came out stronger, unbelievably strengthened by their experience, with better marriages and relationships with God than before. But it also shows you some points about the article that is (I’m sorry to say) just plain wrong, and even potentially damaging to marriages.
    I don’t think God gives you a soulmate just because you believe and he / she believes. He gives you a calling, which could be a cross. It’s your part to take the imperfection given to you, and make the union with that imperfection perfect in His eyes as best you can. That to me, is true faith.

  • EverydayMan

    Emma and her fiance are as prepared for marriage as any of us can hope to be in this life. Such a great example for those yet to be married.

    With free will, though, either spouse can choose to succumb to sin down the line and ruin the marriage. As with most of these posts, the proof is in the pudding, my marriage included.

    I won’t hijack this thread with the details, I’m just thankful that my commitment to God leaves the “option” of divorce completely out of the question, even though I’d never choose to get married again if given the chance. Ugh, it’s truly maddening and sad.

  • Laura Chapman Rosics

    This was a great article. My husband and I have been married for 25 years and raised 4 children, 2 teens still at home. All a work in progress! Lol
    Anyhow, I could always say with 100 percent confidence that my husband (or I) would never cheat and we would be married until death. It’s not always easy and sometimes very hard! No matter what the problems and sometimes they seem insurmountable (herion addicted child) blame games, guilt and unable to help each other are common causes for the breakup of marriages. I was always aware of this and didn’t let it happen. We are making it with Gods grace. No married couple will be unscathed in this life, above all else remember you are life partners and God is your BIGGEST advocate.

  • jb

    I am 53, newly divorced after 26 years of marriage. I didn’t want it but it only takes one to divorce. Still hoping and praying for reconciliation. It is an eye opener to see the divorce decree almost verbatim is the opposite of the Catholic wedding vows. Love is a choice and a verb. Jesus commands us to “love your enemies”. You can’t command a feeling. No human feels like loving an enemy. It is not popular to take the stance you took. Of course standing up for truth is never popular. The marriage contract is the easiest contract to get out of in our country (not the cheapest, the easiest.) Traffic laws are given more respect than marriage these days. I also know that in my ex-wife’s opinion it was easier to leave than to stay. I will carry that with me for the rest of my days.

    Your article is filled with wisdom.

  • jb

    Donko679, one thing many miss is that adultery is very rarely the first cause of marital issues. Married men and women are seeking something they are not getting in the marriage when they step outside the vows. Again, before I get killed with comments… Adultery is NEVER justified. It is a horrible overreaction to other issues which need to be fixed in the relationship. Both parties need to understand that going forward. It is easy to blame the adulterer alone but for true reconciliation both parties need to repent for their failings in their marriage bond. When we start to think of ourselves and what we deserve (guilty – cost me a 26 year marriage, no adultery, addiction or abuse, just selfishness and expectations) then the marriage is headed for trouble. God Bless you and your wife. Remember, God has forgiven you… who do you think you are you to keep bringing up thoughts of your failings? (I forget that all the time…Trust God and his forgiveness.)

  • Paul

    Though I understand the feelings in Emma’s piece, I have to agree with others that you can never say for sure that cheating won’t happen. For one thing, as Catholics, unlike Protestants, we believe that we do NOT have an “assurance of salvation”. This is because we know as humans we can be weak, and succumb to temptation, and even sometimes fall away from the faith. Recall Peter, who was shocked when Jesus said that he would deny him three times. However, sure enough, in a moment of weakness, he did. This can happen to any of us. You can never completely trust another person. Arguably you can’t even completely trust yourself. Only the Lord himself can be trusted. And the Lord gives us free will, he allows us to sin. In fact, this idea that our spouse is completely trustworthy and beyond reproach is actually dangerous to a marriage. I know that is not a romantic notion, but it is the truth. So guard your marriage. As another poster said, pray for it daily. Pray together. That would be my advice, coming from someone whose marriage was also touched by infidelity.

  • pnyikos

    Let’s not confuse the issue by going to a broader meaning of “unfaithful”. The issue is the very narrow one of not committing adultery. The fact that so many “cradle Catholics” cannot resist committing adultery when an enticing opportunity comes up has nothing to do with the conviction of a truly committed Catholic like Emma. If she is right about her fiance being as committed as she is, I am convinced she is also right that neither of them will be unfaithful to the other in the sense intended.

    I believe, in fact, that doubts about the very existence of God are more likely to come than Emma being wrong; for a person can have doubts about that and still be convinced that the way of marital fidelity is the way ordained by God if God indeed exists, and stick with it for that reason.

    So you can see, Mallory (and Antonia too, if you are reading this) I do agree that “Moments of
    disillusionment, misordering priorities, allowing anger to wedge itself
    between spouses, gossiping or venting about one’s spouse, etc….” may well come into the lives of Emma and her (future) husband from time to time. And yet the fundamental commitment to each other can rise above these things.

    And yes, Mallory, you are right to
    think that “there are a myriad of ways that spouses are unfaithful to each
    other” in the very broadest sense of “unfaithful.” However, I draw the line at “and doubt their vows” unless you have in mind a much more detailed set of vows than the ones with which I am familiar.

  • pnyikos

    Paul, the case of Peter is instructive, but his weakness wasn’t the same kind of weakness that causes some people to cheat on their spouses. Peter knew Jesus was facing death and feared that he too might be put to death if people knew he was Jesus’s disciple. A valid comparison would be “cheating” under extreme duress — in other words, being the victim of rape. But it would be wrong to accuse someone of cheating if the alternative is risking one’s life.

  • Paul

    pnyikos, I would somewhat disagree. Obviously, in Peter’s case the sin was quite different and so were the circumstances. But the point is, even someone who was very holy and close to Christ was still able to succumb to temptation and human weakness. If he could succumb, than surely we all can too. This is true in a marriage as well even for God fearing people. Another biblical example of something perhaps even more relevant would be David. I’ve read a lot about marriage in the past two years, and one of my favorite authors is Dr. Williard Harley. He’s a Christian counselor who has counseled thousands of couples and has a great website. His point is that you should never completely trust your spouse. Instead, you should have complete honesty and transparency in your marriage, and take other safeguards to affair-proof it. I wish I would have done that two years ago. Also there are several verses in the bible stating that one shouldn’t put his trust in man, but in the Lord alone (Psalms 118:8-9 etc). And 1 Corinthians 10:12 is instructive: Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

  • Mallory

    I agree with you, as long as their faith is growing, true, and strong, they can with confidence say that they will not be unfaithful (cheat on their spouse). And if they are “right about their fiance being as committed as [they] are…” then yes, they could say their spouse will be faithful. I do not think that someone can say that their fiance WILL NOT cheat on them over the course of their marriage. No matter the level of faith one has on their wedding day, faith remains to be chosen every day. Or, it remains to be not chosen every day. And just as we are able to choose to not be faithful to God, we are able to choose to not be faithful to our spouses.

    I think it is dangerous to say that because we are faithful to God, we are not in danger of falling. I think that the more holy a marriage is, the more the Devil would gain in attacking it. Those who are faithful in little things are faithful in big things. But I know I can be unfaithful to God in little things, I am aware I can be unfaithful in big things (praise God for confession), I know I can be unfaithful to my spouse in little things, and I think if it weren’t for the sacramental grace from our marriage, confession, and the Eucharist, as well as striving to stay close to our Lord in the ‘little things’ and in prayer, I (or my husband) could be unfaithful to each other if tempted at the right moment.

    I could be wrong, I’m no scholar. But, I’d rather be on guard than taken off guard. And I think it is more humble to admit that I could fall (or my spouse could) but for the grace of God.

    Also, we don’t live in a society that supports fidelity by any stretch of the imagination. We may be faithful Catholics (cradle catholic or convert), but most everything we are surrounded with in our world shouts a different Gospel. Its message is insidious and sneaky. I think I will be on guard. It’s too easy in our world to relax for a moment and find ourselves drifting downstream on little things… on big things… there’s a very fine line between the two. And so you say to not confuse the issue of ‘infidelity’, but there is a real link between the little and big crimes of fidelity.

    Show me where the church teaches that a faithful marriage vow will have the guarantee of life-long fidelity from both spouses. I don’t see how it could be. I would love to be proved wrong though! :P

  • Erica

    Um… but you do know that he COULD cheat on you, right? Because we all have free will. And we can absolutely reject the grace and love God offers us at any moment.

    I’ve only been married for three years, so I am no expert. My husband and I have a beautiful marriage that gets better through each “bump in the road” we hit and overcome. I’ve never seen any signs that he would ever be unfaithful, but I know that it is certainly possible, because each and every one of us on this earth suffers from concupiscence.

    Blessings on your upcoming nuptials. May God grant you the grace to say “yes” to Him every day.

  • Anonymous wife

    I learned many many things in the wake of my husbands profound betrayal. I truly believe that we ALL have the capacity to betray… St Peter and already seen the Transfiguration and sworn he would follow Jesus even to death when he denied even knowing Him.

    I also learned that there are few things more frightening than a good man who has done a very bad thing. His need to rationalize and justify his actions will turn him into a monster who deems his wife horrible enough to deserve to be cheated on. In the years subsequent to his betrayal, I was able to get past the lies and knowledge of physical betrayal but the cruelty he inflicted on me during that time is something that will hurt my heart forever.

    I learned that the teaching of Mortal Sin is absolutely true…there are sins that are so bad that the Holy Spirit must flee a soul and they are left defenseless and vulnerable to even more evil. I also learned that the Sacrament of Reconciliation really does bring them back.

    I learned that God really will carry is when we are too weak to take another step and is strongest when we are weakest. I learned He will lead us when we need it and sometimes give us answers when we don’t expect them.

    I learned that its a really bad idea to leave mementos of your affair hidden in your house because if you die suddenly, your wife will be pretty dang mad about it when she finds them.

  • Anonymous wife

    I agree with Paul…St Peters betrayal was very similar to the betrayal of cheating. It illustrates that if you put people into the perfect storm of feelings and circumstances, they can be swayed and tempted in ways that they might have previously considered unthinkable.

    I was married for 18 years before my husband cheated. He withstood much temptation and considered himself immune from the possibility of adultery, so he thought it safe to mentor a colleague, female, younger, she admired him and he had recently felt quite professionally rejected…add chronic depression and life stresses and you have it.

    The human mind is amazing though…we don’t deal well with cognitive dissonance…we need to feel like were right even if were wrong. When someone is THAT wrong they will resort to the most bizarre mental gymnastics to convince themselves that they are not wrong. To them, adultery is a yucky thing that OTHER people do, they are different, they are in love…they were simply tricked by circumstance into marrying the wrong person and God would want them happy, so splitting up their family is fine. The pressure of doing something SO wrong when everything in his life told him not to caused temporary symptoms of severe mental illness.

    My husband told me (among other things) “what I did would have been adultery if we had ever been married in the first place”. I reminded him of our large Catholic Church wedding with 2 Priests…he tells me that his degree of reluctance invalidated his consent. He told me “I wont apologize for falling in love”. “Families break up every day” he assured me…I responded that people get ax murdered everyday …it doesnt make it ok. He was furious that the Church wouldn’t just let him follow his bliss.

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com/ priest’s wife

    We Catholics work out our salvation in “fear and trembling”- it is wrong to presume that we have it all figured out. That is pride- and it is a deadly sin. It is great that she believes they are starting right- she probably WILL have an easier time with her marriage than those who start without the sacrament- or maybe start pregnant or something….but she is also starting with pride…and that is not a good thing

    This post has many good points, but the writer would be better served if she didn’t presume that all will be perfect in the fidelity department- in a way- that is taking your spouse for granted. For example- let’s say that you have to space your children with years because of a serious medical issue- you need to abstain much more than you would like. Should you just assume that your husband will be faithful if you pay no attention to him, you are obsessed with your medical issues, etc- because you married sacramentally? No- you married a good man who is on the same page with the extended abstinence, but a wise woman will do her best to communicate affection and respect- never assuming

  • http://www.patronsaintofpoopydiapers.wordpress.com Jeni

    God bless you and your earnestness. You’ll probably kick yourself in oh 5 years or so for having written this lol. Not that some of this isn’t true, but some of it–hoo boy.

    I enjoyed Simcha’s follow up. It’s very kind but also very true. <3

  • Bear Fact

    Kid, you talk as if divorced people don’t work as hard, love as hard as you (will); and that somehow they’ve failed God and themselves by letting their marriage “slip away.” Sounds suspiciously like you’re putting yourself up by putting them down. “I thank God I’m not like that tax collector. I fast, pay the full 10%, and scrupulously avoid all hints of marital discord.” Let’s see who comes away justified.

  • Coraline

    Really loved Simcha Fisher’s follow up to this. I hope Emma reads it with an open heart.

  • Tony G. Pizza

    Ms. Smith, I don’t think I am tattling by sharing this response article with you. It is by my favorite blogger, Catholic or otherwise, an incredibly soulful lady with nine children and a pretty remarkable, admittedly imperfect life. You and your husband’s faithful marriage earned the right to read this. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher/2014/03/20/god-is-faithful-but-were-not-marrying-god/

  • D Hunnell

    You are very brave to put your engagement and marriage prep out there for all to take shots at as several are recommending Simcha Fisher’s response to your piece. My response to you both is here. http://catholic-mom.blogspot.com/2014/03/if-i-could-write-letter-to-me.html You are doing good work when you show that there is a wonderful alternative to a secular culture’s view of marriage. May God bless you and your husband.

  • Brandy Miller

    If God, who is the perfect spouse, could not convince His chosen Spouse, Israel, to be faithful in return – there can be no human spouse who can expect better from their own. While we live with the hope that our spouse will not cheat on us, we must be prepared for human faults and frailties.

  • george-a

    God is not a vending machine and one never knows what kind of train is hurtling down the track at one. God does allow the devil to play with us, even the most faithful of us, perhaps ESPECIALLY the most faithful of us; ref. the book of Job. Pray for this naive young lady.

  • http://platytera.blogspot.com Christian LeBlanc

    I’ve known my wife for 38 years. I have always said, and still say, with complete confidence, “my spouse will never cheat on me.”

    BTW, I know people say Marriage is Work. My wife and I agree: life is Work; raising kids is Work; but our marriage has not been Work.

  • Therese

    anonymous wife. I could have said those very words of yours. a good man- that was my husband- the rationalizing, . so insightful about the mortal sin causing the Holy Sprit to flee eh soul and leave it defenseless to more evil. I can totally see that .
    God is is the one who has carried me these years and when I am too weak to take another step he is there carrying me. He alone i can totally unreservedly trust. I used to trust my husband that way, but that was the man he used to be.

  • Melody

    I’m very surprised Catholic Exchange would post something like this. Every good Catholic understands that sacramental marriage is a sacred and beautiful thing and that prayer and grace is helpful in maintaining a healthy marriage, but no one would argue that fidelity in marriage is “guaranteed”. You are not marrying God, you’re marrying a sinner. You cannot say that your spouse will never cheat on you no matter how much faith you have in him. To attribute that “confidence” to Catholic marriage and your own “hard work” is even more misleading. This is the kind of condescension and self-righteousness that non-Catholics witness and are repulsed by.

  • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

    Melody–”not marrying God?” Then again, lots of folks remember the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s classic work on marriage:
    “Three to Get Married”…

  • Melody

    Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen did not state that the husband or wife would never sin because God would present in the marriage.

  • Sally Ash

    I pray that you do not have to experience the things you are so certain will never happen to you.

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