[Our Lady of Walsingham, transferred]
The last time I put fingers to keyboard for this blog I was a betrothed man waiting out a painful illness that had forced us to reschedule the wedding at the last minute. Today I am a married husband celebrating 428 wonderful days of marriage to an equally wonderful wife, and I write to praise, to pray and to petition.
In the intervening months, we have been settling into life as “man and wife”. This includes all the issues, conflicts, challenges and opportunities that come from blending two lives and two households together. Needless to say there has not been opportunity nor a sense of the appropriateness for continuing the Walsingham Way (or my other blogs), and readers will have noticed the lengthy silence that ensued. I suppose this disruption should have been expected, and welcomed even. What I should have done is relish that time to be fully present to my new bride and put in place habits of mind, body and heart that will see us through the rest of our lives together.
Unfortunately for my (and our) peace of mind, I didn’t, and so I spent lots of time and energy worrying back and forth about my lack of time to sit, read, and write; and even went through times of doubting whether I even should try to continue. I tried, and failed to juggle my own wants with the actual needs of my new family.
In fact, this represents one of the internal and inter-personal conflicts that plagued our early days (and continues to, truth be told).
This time of intellectual silence on my part has not been soley a bad thing however. It has provided me opportunity for reflection on the intellectual process, on the nature of my goals and how they relate to my married life , and time to set my spiritual house in order. I have come out of it with a renewed commitment to sharing the good news of Jesus, as mediated through a Marian Heart, a Patristic Practice, and a Hebrew Understanding, and the bond of a loving marriage.
For reasons I will not go into here, we have since sought out faithful marital counseling to strengthen our bond and work out personal issues that we brought into the marriage. Counseling though, is not some degrading, last-minute patch-up job that couples on the brink of divorce seek out. For one thing, divorce is not a word that will ever pass through our lips except to shake our verbal fists at the “Undo “I do!”” divorce lawyer billboards that have been cropping up in the metro area. For another, I personally, have found marital counseling to be uplifting. It takes me out of myself and puts me in the place of my wife, seeing her needs, fears, and wants, and empowers me to become the husband she needs. It can be wonderfully
(there’s that word again!) affirming, providing a safe space for couples to speak to one another about behaviors and attitudes that trouble them in the presence of a trusted ‘referee’.
Another safe place for this kind of conversation is -or should be- within the pastoral context of meeting with parish priest or other minister, but I recognize that not everyone feels comfortable bringing their problems to their pastor (or anyone else). My prayer for other couples is that you too, would seek out marital counseling or mentorship.
My time with our counselor has opened up the way for me to begin seeing things through my wife’s eyes, to understand things from her perspective, and I am thankful for that. I, for one, plan to continue meeting with our counselor for as long as she at least, thinks she is needed, and to seek out other forms of marriage enrichment thereafter.
I fully believe marriage to be a vocation and a covenant involving three parties: the husband, the wife, and the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. And a successful marriage involves, among other elements, a spirit and an attitude of waiting: waiting upon my wife, waiting upon the Lord, waiting upon the opportunity of serving others. And what’s more, I believe marriage to be an equal path of holiness with monasticism that teaches us as couple the virtue of self-denial for the sake of Christ, and I hope to be able to share those reflections here as well.
So I ask your prayers as I return to the task of committing thoughts to screen, to discerning and living into my vocation of husband, and seeing what else God has in store for us. One of those things is drawing up goals as a couple, and stating a shared vision of our marriage. Another is discerning possible vocations into ministry, or intellectual work through further education
And we won’t even talk about bi-vocational living at this point. And yet a third is the continual celebration of our life together in the presence of God and the community. and then there is the service that our marriage enables us to give.
I hope to bring back both “A Word for the Way”, and “Words Fitly Spoken”, to begin other long-term projects including “The Road From Cana” about my marriage and, through my words to become a more faithful witness of God in Jesus Christ. And so I look forward to continuing this journey of faith with you.
Our Lady of Walsingham, whose fruitful silence won for us the joy of salvation in the Person of your Son, Jesus Christ, the very Word of God, pray for us.