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Not A Game of Chance: What Marriage is Really All About

March 12, AD 2014 10 Comments

“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 aID-100210227 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.

About the Author:

Emma graduated cum laude from Hillsdale College in May, 2013 with a BA in Philosophy. She is happily married to a wonderful man and lives in Michigan.

  • sequax

    Emma– you are so right. Back when I was dating… even before I became Catholic, people could not understand why I had these long lasting relationships. When I told them that I was looking specifically for someone to be with for the Rest Of My Life, they laughed and thought I was putting them on. They thought it was either a joke, or I was lying to them. I told them excatly how I chose whom I was going to really go out with, etc, and they just said, “How boring.”
    So, it’s not only that they don’t understand marriage, they don’t even understand friendship. Love itself ceases to have any meaning but distraction and good feeling. We have to start somewhere, and I think that true friendship and cultivation thereof is a non-threatening way to start. Because everybody says they want to be a good friend, but no one has a definition of that, save some abstract entity on Face Book.

  • Joe

    Feminism killed marriage.

  • james

    Very nice Emma. For some reason this reminds me of a long back packing trip to Europe in my youth where we came across a small museum just off the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium. Inside, under a vaulted ceiling, shafts of light play on white marble showing two of God’s creatures in anxious rapport. The llfe size statuary depicts a little girl kneeling in front of a mature male lion sitting on his haunches, head thrown back in a roar while stone tears roll down his face – as she pulls out a thorn caught in the webbing of his paw. On the base, written in French are the words. “Love, Love, when you hold us, we can well say, Goodbye Prudence. In other words, sometimes the lion turns, even after such an act of
    kindness.

  • justin

    A moral theologian Germain Grisez wrote “….The wife’s complete sexual satisfaction (orgasm) is not necessary for sexual intercourse insofar as it is a reproductive function,…” – the March 1996 issue of “The Catholic World Report” .

    I wonder if the opposite is true for a catholic man : does a man accept not to have satisfaction, while his wife does ?

    • visitor

      Yes. Read JP II’s Love and Responsibility and other works. 😉

  • visitor

    I so appreciate you standing firm in your faith in God. I would just like to add a piece of cautionary advice to you, especially being a woman and being in the first stages of marriage: We as Catholics are not immune to infidelity between spouses. I know what you would say. “But my spouse and I love each other!” “But we have such a strong bond!” “But we are meant for each other!” All that is nice and good. Just beware that small things are what lead to infidelity, and that it can happen to anyone. I’m glad you focused in your article on faith in God as a strengthening agent in your upcoming marriage. Just don’t think you are cheat-proof because you are Catholic. Catholics are so amazingly blessed to have the richness of our Tradition, our good Bible translations, our Magisterium, etc. This is what gives us the upper hand in marriage. We, as sinners, still mess up though, so we always have to have CONSTANT connection with God in our friendships, family, service, and sacrament. So I’m not negating what you are saying, I’m just giving a friendly “achtung” that we should not be so bold as to say we are immune to infidelity and even, divorce. We have the tools to avoid it but being human, we don’t always use them, whether conscious of it or not!! God bless you and your fiance!

    • cordy fan

      Way cool. I totally agree….and separation through gadgets ( tv or ipad) is a new tool of the fallen and very high iq’ed spirits.

  • amanda32

    My Name is Amanda. My husband had been gone for about 7 months, I contacted humen from other testifiers and within a few minutes of speaking with him, I realized that humen spell was the one person whom I could completely trust. I didn’t expect the spell would work so fast. Within 12 hours, my husband was back in my life. I want to express my warmest gratitude to humenhealingtemple@yahoo.com I’ll never ever forget all the happiness you gave me. I’ll like to share his contact with you all if any is in need of help…

  • Hope

    “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.”
    Lordy, girl. The naivety in this post is tragic. Please talk to people who have actually been married for a significant number of years so that the brick wall of reality you’re aiming at won’t hit you as hard as it probably should…

  • Phillip Campbell

    My wife and I were lifelong Catholics who prayed the rosary every day before we got married and then together everyday for 10 yrs after we got married. We did not have sex with each other until our wedding night. We had an amazing sex life with each other once we married. We never used artificial contraception, frequented the sacraments, homeschooled at first and then later used Catholic School for our children’s education. We really never had money problems since I was an Engineer and she was a stay at home mom. We agreed on our roles before marriage. We had 4 healthy children and 4 miscarriages, and 1 stillborn little girl. My wife eventually lost her mind to depression, then limerence as she had multiple affairs, renounced Christ, and has filed for a divorce. You can take steps to help prevent it, but never assume that it can’t happen to you. Look at Job as an example. The devil can beat you down for no reason at all, and God sometimes will just watch it happen. And if your spouse wants a divorce there is NOTHING you can do to stop it. But for the grace of God there go I.