In each ‘season,’ marriage can be ‘a silent homily’

| Kate Soucheray | September 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Seasons of love

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If you ask a couple in a longterm marriage if they have experienced “seasons” of love, they will assure you that they have. Just as a year has seasons, so does marriage. According to author Gary Chapman, these must be strategically managed for marriage to be successful.

Chapman is widely known from his 1995 book “The Five Love Languages,” which encourages husbands and wives to learn their partner’s “love language” and use of it as often as possible. In his 2012 book “The Four Seasons of Marriage,” Chapman again proposes strategies to help enhance the strength of one’s marriage.

These strategies include dealing with past failures, choosing a winning attitude, learning to speak your spouse’s love language, developing the power of empathic listening, discovering the joy of helping your spouse succeed, maximizing your differences and implementing positive influence.

In several ways, Chapman’s strategies for successfully managing the seasons of marriage align with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council on marriage. The Council Fathers proposed that marriage is to be an experience of friendship. The writers of “Gaudium et Spes” (1965) explain that “authentic married love will be held in high esteem … if Christian spouses give outstanding witness to faithfulness and harmony in their love” as they “retain this character of love throughout their whole manner and communion of life.”

In order to provide such a witness in modern marriage, we often have the misconception, that we will always be happy with our spouse. We may believe this other person is going to fulfill our every dream, and we are allowed to hold our partner responsible if we experience dissatisfaction or discontentment in life. Even though we may realize this is foolish and untrue, we may still hold our spouse accountable for unhappiness in our lives.

Chapman’s strategies are also supported by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states married couples will be given a special grace to fulfill their commitment to the sacrament of matrimony.

Action challengeAs we move into the season of fall, take time to reflect with your spouse about the seasons of marriage you have already experienced. Share what you have gained from facing the joys and hardships of your commitment and friendship.

It states this grace “is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity,” helping each partner attain holiness in married life.

In doing so, the couple sees that “Christ dwells within them, giving them the strength to take up their crosses and follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens … and to love one another with supernatural, tender and fruitful love.”

In order to love one another supernaturally, tenderly and fruitfully, a couple must realize that the day of their wedding was the first day of saying “yes” to the seasons of marriage that await them.

As the seasons unfold, they must remember they will be given special graces to manage the difficulties that ardise, helping them maintain friendship and camaraderie throughout these struggles.

If they remember that Christ dwells within each of them individually, as well as between them collectively, they will realize the strength he gives them to maintain the union they have created through their “yes,” assisting each other to attain greater holiness in marriage and in life.

“Man and woman are created in God’s image and likeness; and for this reason, marriage likewise becomes an image of God,” Pope Francis said. “This makes marriage very beautiful. Matrimony is a silent homily for everyone else, a daily homily.”

Soucheray is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a member of Guardian Angels in Oakdale. She holds a master’s degree in theology from the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.

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Category: Simple Holiness