Today’s first reading from the Book of Genesis quotes God as saying, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.”
Rabbi Harold Kushner, well-known for his book, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People, tells how a young couple came to see him one evening. Their wedding was coming up and he was to officiate at it. At one point the young man said to him, “Rabbi, would you object if we made one small change in the wedding ceremony? Instead of pronouncing us husband and wife ‘till death do us part,’ could you pronounce us husband and wife ‘for as long as love lasts’? We’ve talked about this and we both feel that, should the day come when we no longer love each other, it wouldn’t be morally right for us to be stuck with each other.”
Rabbi Kushner replied, “I do object, and I won’t make the change. You and I know that there is such a thing as divorce, and we know that a lot of marriages these days don’t last until one of the partners dies. But let me tell you something. If you go into marriage with an attitude of ‘If it doesn’t work out, we can always split’, that I can almost guarantee you that things won’t work out for you.”
“I appreciate your honesty. But you must understand that a marriage commitment is not just a mutual willingness to live together, but a commitment to accept frustrations and disappointments that are an inevitable part of two imperfect human beings relating to each other. It’s hard enough to make a go of marriage even when you give it everything you’ve got. But if only a part of you is involved in the relationship, then you have virtually no chance.”
When two people enter into the covenant of holy matrimony, their lives are linked together as one. From that point on they have a common destiny. They are committed to one another, and are responsible to and for one another. God seals and blesses this sacred, irrevocable bond.
God created us for love; to give it and to receive it. However, the ability to love is not something that is given to the couple on their wedding day. Love is something that has to be learned. Love is not an emotion but a way of living. Marriage is hard work and must be worked at each and every day.
Nothing is a greater challenge to love, nothing provides a greater opportunity for growth in it, than marriage. It calls for a lot of maturity and sacrifice. When a man and woman enter into marriage they bring with them their strengths and weaknesses; hurts and wounds, hopes and fears. However the difficulties they encounter, and they will as it is a part of life, can become opportunities for growth. There is more depth to a relationship that has weathered the storms.
I tell couples that I like to use the word LOVE as an acronym for Living Our Vows Every day! When love is lived, as St. Paul wrote, “it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.”
— Fr. Dennis, October 7, 2018