Dear Newly Wed,
I am using a formal tone so that you understand how serious what I am about to share with you is. As you enter into marriage today, I wish to remind you that you have received your call to the married life from God who wants two of you to be one (Mt 19:6). In this way you are to live in love, be fruitful and become a sign of God who is Himself overflowing love (CCC 1601-1605).
Today you have made a promise to each other before God and the Church, to love each other and be companions for the rest of your lives. God Himself has bound you in marital love; remain in His love (cf. Jn 15:9-17). You would have noticed that you two mutually administered the sacrament to yourselves. It is an indication that you have entered into this union by yourselves. The Priest (or Deacon) called down God’s blessings on you and witnessed to your union. With particular attention, he wanted to be sure you were sincere about what you said to each other. Did you enter into your marriage freely and without fear or coercion? If these were taken care of then I know you are on your way to a ‘happily ever after’.
It is important that you know what you are entering into. Catholic marriage is a union where two baptized Christians of opposite gender freely consent to enter into a life-long, exclusive union and in love accept children for their salvation and for the growth of the human society and the Church. It is also very important that you know that you are “a living image of the love between Christ and His Church.”
St Paul writing to the Church in Ephesus told couples to be submissive to each other (Eph 5:21). Submission here does not mean “slavery” “subordination” or “suppression”. To submit to your spouse should mean that you listen to each other and respect each other as EQUALS. It means that even when you are right, you must seek what is best for both of you. What is best for both each of you every time. This is not always easy but if you truly love each other, you will be less inclined on have your way; you will want to make the other person happy even if it will cause you some discomfort.
Love should be your guiding principle. You are to love each other just as Christ loves His Church, unconditionally, with no strings attached and selflessly (Eph 5:25). Love is what remains after the infatuations of courtship fades. Love is the moments you spend appreciating the good qualities that each person possesses. Love means you understand that there are some aspects of the other person you cannot change but must only accept. Love means you trust each other to be faithful, to support, to inspire, to encourage and pray for the other. Love means, above all, that you depend on God’s grace as you journey along together.
I won’t fail to point out to you that certain things threaten marriage. I want you to understand that if you are willing to do a few things for each other, you’ll have no problem handling your marital challenges:
1. COMMUNICATE: You will find a lot of people who will want to advise you on how best to relate with your spouse. Some will tell you what to do to secure your marriage. The best person to have such a conversation with is your spouse. Be the best of friends. Keep conversations going between you two. Share useful and important information as soon as possible. The opinions of others should be accepted with hesitation.
2. BE CONSIDERATE: Always focus on what makes the other person happy. Many times you want your personal happiness more than you want the happiness of your spouse. What you will realize, if you give yourself the chance, is that you will be truly happy when you only seek the happiness of your spouse.
3. PRAY WITH AND FOR EACH OTHER: Many people forget that Prayer is the bedrock on which any fruitful relationship is founded. Pray always; in good times, in bad times, in times of disagreement, when either of you is about to leave the house, before you eat, before you retire for the night, when one of you is away on a journey, and when you are reunited. You can never pray too much.
4. FORGIVE: If there is anything you will do from today till the day you die, it is to forgive. You will soon discover that neither of you is perfect. You will always step on each other’s toes but this should never make you forget the good you once saw in each other. Be quick to apologize if you have done something wrong and forgive your spouse when he/she apologizes.
I pray that you will find the happiness you have always dreamt of and that God who has brought you together will continue to sustain you in your marriage and bless you at the end of your lives with the eternal jewel of righteousness, peace and joy in heaven.