I’m married. Yippee! I’ve been married for almost nine years. We have four beautiful children here on earth and a little darling angel in heaven.
Marriage is tough. The reality, though, is that anything in life that is really “worth it” is not particularly easy. For example, a good wine is produced by providing inordinate pressure on fruit that takes a half a year to grow, is hard to harvest, and even after you press the fruit, très bon vin requires a lot of time to ferment.
Wine is the perfect analogy for marriage. Thinking about this analogy and my last nine years of marriage, I’ll offer a few petits gâteaux of advice to newly married couples or anyone who is considering the vocation of marriage:
Tend to the Fruit of Your Marriage. Like a good farmer, marriage requires a lot of careful, habitual and purposive work. The “honeymoon phase” is when you think you are doing all of it, and you think it is all fun and games. Marriage is about romance, but the beauty of love is best brought out in a marriage through the sometimes tedious ways you look after each other. Through self-sacrifice, each spouse is given an opportunity to till the soil, water and carefully watch over the love that is growing.
Make Sure You Pick It When It’s Ripe. I’m a man, and I’ll admit that I can get better at this. I miss moments and fail to see when the fruit is ready to be picked. Everyday is an opportunity to become more aware of what is “happening” in your marriage. Sports, work, hobbies and a thousand other things (including blogging) are always there to distract you from the one God has given you for life. A farmer who gains the largest return on his crop picks the harvest at just the right time. Marriage is the art of carpe diem.
Don’t Expect Too Much Too Soon. Don’t settle for $3 juice when $400 wine is around the corner. At the same time, give each other the opportunity to kick back and enjoy the $3 juice with some Ritz crackers and a block of cheese once in a while. The early years seem like your love cannot get any better, but what’s around the corner–through the ups and downs–is something you cannot even imagine. The love I have for my wife now makes that love seem so infantile: sweet but immature, soft but not firm enough to hold much up, and too gentle for its own good. Remember that the “honeymoon phase” is a lot like being 5. When you turn 14 you realize that your grandpa’s living room was never the size of a football field and mint gum doesn’t really count for “dessert”.
When It’s Ready, Drink! A great wine shouldn’t sit on your shelf. Neither should a marriage as it matures. This can be tough since the longer you are married, the more complicated life gets. Ball games, nap time, nursing, ballet, appointments, bills…can all add up to your relationship with your spouse taking the back seat. First, remember to engage each other in the moments of family life. The family is literally the fruit of your marriage. During those incredible moments when everything seems so right, breath it in together–this is truly the fragrance of your budding love. Second, take a time-out for each other. This is easier said than done. We have an 8 month old, 2 year old, 4 year old and 5 year old. Our time-outs can only last so long, but they are still important. Plan a day out, a date-in or anything that you know will give you and your spouse the space you need to look into each other’s eyes and just pause, take a breath, and sip on the wine of your love.
I’m no sommelier. This definitely is a glass I need to pour for myself.
Like what I had to say? Hate it? Check me out at my blog where I discuss why I’m Catholic and other things about that @ www.almostnotcatholic.com