I am realizing how rare it is to stay married. I am also realizing how hard it is for people to stay married. The secular world dishes a great deal of poisons into our marriages and it doesn't make it easy. We have birth control, which leaves pleasure with no mutual consequences. We have birth control that allows infidelity. We have selfishness and counselors who tell those seeking help to do what they want, what feels best and to leave all else by the waste side. We have the television, which offers lifestyles... all and any lifestyle other than a wholesome one. We have people who hold grudges because they were never taught to forgive. And we have people who just plain give up and say they fell out of love.
Love, my friends, is not a feeling, but a choice.
I know that our time will come. Patrick and I will struggle. We will want to give up. We already have struggled in many ways, but have yet to have to put up a real fight. But, we are preparing for it. We have talked. We have prayed. When things get tough we agreed long ago that no matter what, even if only one of us thinks we need help, we will seek it. We have prepared by agreeing to spend one week each year together alone with no kids to replenish what has run dry and to talk and enjoy one another without feeding someone, holding someone or correcting someone much smaller than us! We have agreed to forgive, which is something we struggle with, but always do... and then place it behind us without holding is against the other. We have agreed to sit and constantly prioritize what we spend our time on. TV is the toughest thing to avoid at the end of the day when we just want to chill... but, this doesn't help us to look each other in the eyes and check in. That is hard. We have agreed to eat dinner together as a family as often as possible. We have agreed to get to Confession often... and always when we need to. We have agreed to never miss Mass... ever. All of these decisions have come from the great wisdom of those who have come before us... our parents, our good friends, and the couples we have seen make it... so, we have taken them seriously. This will not be an easy fight. If they did these things, we will learn from them and do them too.
My mom reminded me this visit to Atlanta that I will be disappointed often because I hold such high standards for myself... and I always expect the same of others. The problem is I don't expect the same of others, but I am sad to find that I many times want so much more for others than they want for themselves. This call to live the Christian life and to live a Christian marriage and to build a Catholic home is the call we all have been given. And as short as we will show up, we have got to try... He will make up for the difference.
I have been sad lately to be around so many marriages that have fallen apart. I have been sad to see broken homes and anxious, lost children who are a result of it. I am sad to feel out of control of helping it. I am sad. But, in the midst of it, I see where God reminds me of how much I have. It is a grace to hear Him. It is a grace to know and love what it means to fight the good fight. As imperfect as I am, I love that I have the freedom to love... love till the end... love till it hurts... love even if you don't love me back... love even when I don't feel like it. That's what children and marriage teach. And as hard as it is, it is a grace.
I pray for marriages. I pray for perseverance in my own.
I am grateful my parents and Patrick's parents have stuck it out all of these years. By doing this, they have taught us so much. I am grateful that I have seen so many marriages fight through alcoholism, depression, family deaths, disease, cancer, young pregnancies, and the list goes on. That is where hope can be found when all seems lost. Thank you to those of you who are faithful and fight the good fight. I am so grateful for you.