This is a guest post by Tim Muldoon.
This week Sue and I are celebrating 19 years of marriage. Nineteen! Coincidentally, just yesterday I heard some radio person opining that our whole notion of marriage is changing, and that the norm for the future will be some kind of serial marriage contracts with a shelf life of some 10 years or so. That may be true, but what has become abundantly clear to me is that when Christians talk about marriage they mean something radically, radically different from that.
What have I learned about true love through the religious profession of Christian marriage? Here’s a snapshot.
- As a religious profession more akin to priesthood or religious life than (say) a business contract, marital love is fundamentally sacramental. That’s to say that every external act is a manifestation of a hidden grace. It’s never about just dishes or driving kids to soccer or even sex. It’s always, always, always about grace. God is there, as long as I get my biases out of the way to see it.
- It is nourished by the practice of indifference. In the (paraphrased) language of Ignatius of Loyola, everything on the earth is to help me to be the person God created me to be, and I should never mistake means for ends. Sure I want things, but none of them are half as important as learning how to love Sue and my children every day.
- It is also nourished by the self-knowledge that comes from the practice of the Examen. The more I know about myself and the ways that God is present throughout my day, the more capable I am of seeing how God is loving Sue and my children through me. Awareness instills in me a powerful sense of gratitude.
Tim Muldoon is the author of Longing to Love: A Memoir of Desire, Relationships, and Spiritual Transformation and The Ignatian Workout.