The Catechism of the Catholic Church (ccc 1641) describes the Grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony as:
“…This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they ‘help one another to attain holiness in their married life…’.”
It seems that whoever wrote this certainly did not take into consideration the day to day instances where I would like to help my husband “attain holiness” a little sooner than intended! Some times our “indissoluble unity” becomes a bit dissolved and muddy and it takes all we have to stop the madness and bring everything back to its proper place.
There’s lots of talk throughout the church about the Marriage Contract. Well, I agree, it is a contract. A contract that requires a lot of continuous negotiations and compromises. As in any contractual arrangement, to get the agreement you prefer (a happy marriage) requires a lot of finesse. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes you compromise.
For example - my very favorite time of year is Christmas time. I start feeling the desire to sing Jingle Bells and put out the nativity scene the first time the temperature drops below 80. Even the television stations are on my side and start showing holiday shows at Thanksgiving! Not so much with my husband. He has no desire to watch holiday films that he has already seen, or that all seem to have the same plot. Give him Christmas day and he’s good. So, I hold off on decorating until after Thanksgiving, and holiday movies (especially those sappy Hallmark ones) are not shown in our house (while he’s there). I lost that battle.
When we moved into our home, I wanted to decorate the bathroom with royal purple accents. He couldn’t envision how purple would ever look good in any room, especially the bathroom. I went out and bought purple towels and rugs and put them in the bathroom anyway. He actually likes the purple now that he can see it. I won that battle.
The previous two are easy examples and pale in comparison to the Great Toaster Fight of 2018!! My husband likes to have an English muffin or toast in the mornings. He would get the toaster out, the bread, butter and butter knife and make his toast. While he is great at putting the butter, bread, utensils away, he would leave the toaster out. He would do this every day. Every. Single. Day. Not only would the toaster be out on the middle of the counter, but it seemed to be always right where I needed to be. If I came home from the grocery store, I would have to move the blasted toaster before hauling in groceries. If I wanted to make dinner, I had to move the toaster to have counter space to use. He feels the toaster is a deserving appliance that merits a place on the counter. I say it has a place in the pantry and belongs there when not in use. It seems really odd, and not something that would warrant such emotion from both of us, but it has. Neither of us was going to give in. He would bring the toaster out. I would put it away. I even stopped buying bread so he couldn’t make toast just to make my point. The day I was considering hiding the toaster was the day I decided the ridiculousness had to end. So we compromised. Our pantry has an outlet in it. The pantry was rearranged to make room for the toaster to sit in there, next to the bread, plugged in and ready for the anticipated morning muffin. He doesn’t have to bring the toaster out and I don’t have to put it away. So far it’s worked well and there is peace in our house again.
I realize the above examples are a little silly and presented with some humor, but they are indicative of what can happen if you both decide to stand your ground on opposite sides of an issue. Whether big or small, it’s important to either give in or find an acceptable compromise before it becomes an issue that just can’t be overcome. Even more important is to accept and not complain about the decision once it’s made.
Marriage is sacred. It is a sacrament designed by God to give grace. Through marriage, we receive God’s grace and by our vows, we help each other achieve greater blessings. I have always said that through marriage, my main job is to help my husband get to heaven. Allowing things like a toaster to get in the way of this goal is a warning that we are slipping from our focus and need to re-vamp our efforts.
Take the passion you feel towards your side of the issue and turn it to a fight for your marriage instead of a fight to get your own way. United in marriage to stand together until death do us part…..
What God has joined, let no man (or toaster) put asunder!