There is a lot of advice offered concerning marriage. For instance, never marry a tennis player. To them “love” means nothing.
I advise young girls to try to marry an archeologist. The older you get, the more he is interested in you.
I’ve always liked Ben Franklin practical advice. He said that people should prepare for marriage with both eyes open and live it with one eye closed.
My advice centers on “words.” I believe words have great power. Indeed, transforming power. So I advise all married couples to use frequently the following words.
First to all, six words: They make up two sentences. “I am sorry.” “I forgive you.” It has been wisely said that a successful marriage is the union of two great forgivers. All people are imperfect. And the only way imperfect people can live in peace and harmony is through the habit of forgiveness. (If only nations would understand this.)
Five words: “We can work this out.” Our left hand and right hand may argue, but they have to work things out because they are of one body. In marriage two become one. Unselfishness and trust will lead a married couple to find solutions to problems that are win-win, and good of the whole body.
Four words: “Come, let us pray.” In Psalm 127 we read, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build.” It is God who calls people to marriage. It is God who sustains marriage. But husband and wife have to ask, and then give thanks.
Three words: “Tell me more.” Marriage can present a lifetime of discovery, of insight, of wonder and of joy, if husband and wife take the time and make the effort to do the most difficult of human activities, and that is to listen. They have to put aside the “I” word and say instead, “Tell me more.” And then pay attention, so that they can eventually say, “Now I understand.”
Two words: “Thank you.” It is good to imagine your spouse walking around with a sign on his or her forehead that reads, “Appreciate me.” A thankful and appreciating heart is always life giving. It is a sure way to make another smile.
One word: “We.” In marriage husband and wife become a new creation. Man and woman are no long two, but one — one heart, one spirit, one body. One in love.
To use and live out these 21 words involves a journey. First there is a journey out of oneself into a relationship that is a “we.” Then there is a journey of this new “we” into God, so that the “we” is now three, — husband, wife, and God, — bonded together by love.
St Augustine so wisely said, “Show me a person in love and I will show you a person on the way to God.”
And a folk song of years ago put it this way, The more I love you the more I know… I’m in love with my God.”
And then there is the spiritual mission of marriage. St. Francis told his followers, “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” Example is powerful. When people observe a husband and wife loving each other with a love that is expansive, intimate, unconditional, total, absolute and forever, they will come to understand who God is.
In the Roman Liturgy of Canada we read, “Marriage…is the most powerful symbol of God’s love for the world.” If people want to know what God is like, they are to look at husband and wife united in love.
Finally, we are aware of how important the sun is for life. The sun gives us light. The sun gives us warmth. And the sun helps things to grow. On their wedding day, husband and wife say in effect to one another.
“I want to be like the sun in your life. I want to be the light that shows forth the inner goodness and beauty that I see deep within you. I want to be the warmth that is affection, tenderness and care. And I want to inspire and encourage you to grow and be your best self each day of our life together.”
Light. Warmth. And growth…
The sun is also very faithful. Never misses a day. Always rises and always sets. To be like to sun to one another is to be loyal, faithful and true, there to be counted upon in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death.
All this is impossible, — unless the Lord is with them. So husband and wife humbly ask for God’s blessings. They ask him to be always present in their hearts and in their home as they continue to live out their wedding vows each day of their lives.
Family and friends are not only around to support and encourage a married couple. Family and friends also look to be inspired. As they watch husband and wife live out their marriage commitment, they will be inspired to more deeply reverence, respect and cherish all human persons. And by this example will all come to see that our God is the God of love.