I’m an optimist by nature, with a “we got this”, can-do attitude that always drinks from the half full glass. My husband, on the other hand, is Mr. Realist. Johnny raincloud. He’s usually bursting my happy bubble with rational statements like: “We can’t spend more than we make, Teresa.” The ol’ poop. But, if you are going to twist my arm I must admit he does have some reasonable points to make from time to time. Well, most of the time, and he’s most definitely there for me in all my hair-brained (yet brilliant) adventures.
Through our thirty-year marriage I have come to count on him- to bring me back down from out of the clouds, sure, but just as often, to lift me onto his strong shoulders so I can see all the way to that sunny horizon. My man is my rock, and that’s what I call him: James, my rock man. He tows that steady line, while I, on the other hand, ride that emotional rollercoaster with great gusto.
My positive attitude can sometimes get me into trouble when I take on more than I can handle. It’s times like that when I turn to my husband to fix it. You name it, he’s done it. Everything from him learning how to sew a complex pattern for a bride’s maid dress, to giving our puppies vaccination shots because I committed “us” to saving money on vet costs, to my continual computer woes- my rock helps me sort it all out so I can live the dream.
At no time was this more evident than when I was training to run my three marathons. Talk about slaying some hefty dragons! Day after day as I attempted to conquer all the fear and the colossal crosses of distance running, I counted on him to reassure me, comfort me, and listen to my frustrations and anxieties again and again. And let me tell ya, slaying dragons can be messy business. There was a lot of intense therapy sessions and talking me down from the ledge, not to mention practically carrying me up the stairs when my legs couldn’t take anymore. He was, he is- always the one I count on.
And that’s how it goes in a good marriage. You count on each other, for better or worse. Is it always perfect? Heck, no! We are all imperfect creatures and it is through our day to day sacrifices, of putting the wellbeing of the other ahead of ourselves that we continually discover what real love is. It is not superficial “feeling”- a “what are you going to do for me” attitude. Selfishness as a center of marriage is the poison that will destroy it every time.
No wonder marriage is so fragile today. People aren’t interested in experiencing real love. That requires focusing deeply on the crucifix- seeing Love unabated at its raw, brutal Truth. No, that’s asking too much. We want instead what makes us feel good for a time, and when it doesn’t, society encourages us to seek “self”, regardless of the ripple effect of destruction caused to those who rely on that marriage.
The devil will attack what he hates the most. All you have to do is look to the media these days and many of the current trends and hot-button topics to see his agenda. And one of the biggest is the attack on the family, - and marriage as its foundation. The devil does not want us to understand love, real love, so he takes the half-truth of it and twists, and warps, and confuses so that the bedrock of our society crumbles.
Marriage, as God created it, is a holy Sacrament, a light. It “is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:15-16).
How perfect it is, really. How amazing is our God that He can take two screwballs and mold them into one, unselfish flesh? (Well, that’s what He did with us, that’s for sure.) He creates love again at the heart of each union- just like His Son and His bride, the Church, so that a husband and wife live to put the wellbeing of the other ahead of self. Man and woman, opposite but perfectly made to be the strength for the other where they need it most, slaying dragons so each can reach for goals and dreams they could never accomplish alone.