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Marital Bliss

from “Marital Bliss: Faithfulness and poverty in spirit” by Michael R. Tovrea, The Priest

Faithfulness is the greatest aid in making certain that marriage lasts a lifetime. Faithfulness not only means being faithful in sexual matters, but in every matter of a marriage. It means that we will be people of our word when it comes to our spouse, and it also means ridding ourselves of any friends or addictions that are harmful to our marriage.

In marriage we are called to love, respect and honor our spouses faithfully for a lifetime. And faithfulness and honoring our spouses’ wishes are very deeply interlinked in a marriage. The more we are conscientious to obey our marital vows, the more we realize that we not only have to be faithful when it comes to sexual matters, but also in honoring our spouses’ wishes.

Selfless Love of Husband and Wife

The most important gift of a marriage is the love between a man and a woman that makes them one person. If we truly love our spouses as we should, we will love selflessly. This means that we put their needs before our own. This means that, if we must sacrifice something we would like for something they want, that we enthusiastically and joyfully do so. It means that their happiness and wellbeing come before our own and that sometimes we must be faithful to put our own needs on hold until our spouses’ needs can be met. If we are truly faithful in little things, then we must be faithful to die to our own needs and place our spouse’s needs before our needs.

If we believe that all things will come to pass in God’s good time, we will be willing to die to ourselves, to put our spouse’s needs first and foremost, to dedicate our lives to fulfilling their needs — physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual — and to wait for the right time to get our needs met. In this way we are not only being faithful in the little things, but also faithful in honoring our spouses’ needs before our own can be met.

Obedience

Faithfulness in little things in a marriage also means that we commit ourselves to being good and conscientious listeners and putting ourselves and our own agenda and needs aside to listen carefully to what our spouses want of us. Faithfulness in marriage is also very deeply intertwined with obedience. Both husbands and wives must be deeply committed to being obedient to the other’s wishes. A man cannot demand obedience of his wife unless he is obedient himself. This is not the obedience of a slave, but the obedience of a spouse’s best friend who is entrusted with every facet of the couple’s lives. 

This is the type of faithfulness that is needed in times when the divorce rate is skyrocketing far above the 50 percent rate. Truly being faithful in little things lets our spouses know that they can trust us with much bigger responsibilities. It is, though, very important that this not be demanded of a spouse with a “My way or the highway!” attitude, but rather with loving, gentle patience and persistence and a readiness to abandon our wishes if they are in any manner offensive to our spouses.

Being faithful in loving our spouses also entails attempting to never give or take offense and to never do anything purposely to hurt or destroy them. It means that we are faithful to attempt to control our anger and that, if we do become unreasonably angry, we are quick to apologize and to assure our spouses that we love them above every other person on this earth.

Having poverty in spirit in marriage means first and foremost being willing to provide for our spouse’s needs without expecting a return except eternally. Being married and having a family is truly learning to live a selfless life and to live with an attitude of cheerful self-giving. Marriage is meant to help us to be the best possible Catholics we can be — and far better Catholics then when the only person we had to think about in our lives was ourselves. 

Marriage helps us to mature and to understand that caring for another faithfully and with prudent poverty in spirit is a far better mode of life than a self-centered lifestyle. There is much greater purpose and meaning in living for and caring for another than in living for and caring for ourselves. 

Poverty in Spirit

Having poverty in spirit as a spouse means first and foremost being willing to provide for our partner’s needs without expecting a return except eternally. Being married and having a family is truly learning to live a selfless life and to live with an attitude of cheerful self-giving. Marriage is meant to help us to be the best possible Catholics we can be — and far better Catholics then when the only person we had to think about in our lives was ourselves. 

Marriage helps us to mature and to understand that caring for another faithfully and with prudent poverty in spirit is a far better mode of life than a self-centered lifestyle. There is much greater purpose and meaning in living for and caring for another than in living for and caring for ourselves. 

Prudent poverty in spirit means that, in our willingness to be generous, we still live within our means and are contented with what we have and what we have been given. A truly generous person never gives more than what he has been given, even though he is totally willing to give all that he has, just as the widow in the temple gave her mite. A prudent husband always gives his mite to his wife and family, never needing or asking for much himself except the consolation he gains in providing for his wife’s and his family’s wellbeing and happiness.

Being faithful in the little things in marriage is a wonderful means of gaining marital bliss because marital bliss is based on trust. If our spouses totally and completely trust us and we totally and completely trust them, due to being faithful and prudent in little things, we will experience marital bliss.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Celebrating true freedom

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