As a Marriage and Family Therapist I celebrate the chance to help married couples come to a better understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage. Sadly we have lost a sense of marriage as it was intended by God in the beginning. This blog is about marriage as it applies to scripture and the lives of the saints. As a Marriage Counselor I invite you to walk with me on a journey within the rich anthropology of our faith. The sacredness of Marriage is what this blog, and my work is all about.
Good morning. We read in today’s Gospel about doubt and faith, and it is clear in today’s reading about Peter’s failed attempt to walk on water that doubt and faith do not work well together. We so often see this in marriage. Pope Benedict made note of this in his remarks to the youth during his visit to Malta in April of 2010. He assured them that it is important to resist fear and doubt, and that the path to overcoming our doubt is found in being committed. Pope Benedict said “To all of you who wish to follow Christ, as married couples, as parents, as priests, as religious, as lay faithful bringing the message of the Gospel to the world, I say, do not be afraid!” Where faith involves the sacrament of marriage we overcome our doubts through faith which we come to have by way of our experiences and through understanding God’s intentions for marriage. Sound preparation for marriage and ongoing participation in the Eucharist and prayer provides for maintaining our faith and we will be better prepared to deal with struggles as they occur in marriage. If we understand God’s intention for marriage we will be prepared to deal with problems when they occur. Our current day culture offers very little support for ideas such as commitment and permanence, and even from within the pews there is often support and encouragement for backing away from making permanent decisions and lifelong commitments. In response to the growing cultural reluctance to embrace the understanding of the permanence of marriage Pope Benedict, at his Message to the International Youth Forum, March 24, 2010 said: “it is of vital importance to understand that true love is a faithful, definitive gift of self.” When we encounter doubt, our faith will find a way. In addition to frequent participation in the Eucharist and prayer, it is important for couples to make a deliberate effort in providing for experiences which support their faith and commitment in one another. We should make a deliberate choice each morning to engage in behaviors which will support our relationship. Our Saint for today, Alphonsus Liguori, is quoted as saying, “The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him.” So too in marriage, our faith and commitment for each other grows as our love for each other grows, and our love grows through making choices to engage in positive interactions with our spouse. Love isn’t something which just happens, we make it happen. John Gottman, an author and renowned researcher in the field of marital success notes that success in marriage “is not an absence of conflict; it has to do with the success ratio.” Gottman notes that in successful marriages there is an ongoing ratio of five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. Leave no room for doubt, do something positive for your marriage today. Make a great day!