The Challenge of Spiritual Sacrifice in a Faith-Based Marriage
In the 1962 Rituale Romanum Rite of Christian Marriage, William O. Brady, Archbishop of Saint Paul gives the following instructions on the Day of Marriage:
"Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love."
Marriage Is Often Difficult
During a recent business dinner, a dear friend and respected business associate asked my husband and me how we were finding married life.
Unbeknownst to this friend, we had recently hit a rough patch, and we were both still reeling from our first real "fight." Although it wasn't much of a fight in terms of real life, it was the first major disagreement we had experienced since getting married, and we were both privately licking our wounds.
I will pause the narrative here to say that I was wrong. Completely wrong. The fight arose from a misunderstanding on my part, and escalated to unnecessary proportions.
I'd like to blame the summer heat. It had been unusually hot in Wyoming that July, and the heat seemed to be putting everyone on edge. I spent an entire day, stewing and brewing, suffering in the heat, until my husband came home from work, completely unaware of the rage building in my gut.
I had been wronged, I figured, and I was going to set the record straight. The more I thought about my perceived injustice, throughout the day, the madder I got.
Not wanting to get off track or distracted while taking my husband to task, I decided to jot out a quick outline. I wanted to make sure I covered my main points, without getting off topic.
Six pages later, my outline had become a novella, and I was loaded for bear. I waited to pounce on my unwitting victim.
After he came home, I calmly began my speech, starting with point number one. By the time I reached my second bullet point, my fury was loosed, and I was blasting him from the left and right with each of my well thought out topics.
Let's just say, it didn't go that well for me. I made it all the way to sub-text A of point one, before we both came unglued. He didn't really come unglued. He just walked away, leaving me with my list.
We made it through the argument, both of us hurting and confused. And then the business dinner, just a few nights later.
As our friend and associate innocently inquired about our marriage, we looked at each other, unsure how to respond.
It was then that he quipped with a smile, "Marriage is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy."
As he shared his wisdom, my heart melted and I realized that marriage can be a joy, if only we are willing to look beyond our own needs, toward the greater good of our lives together.
Perfect love is a joy
My friend used the word "marriage" in his quote from the Rituale Romanum, but the original quote refers to sacrifice.
The Archbishop describes marriage as a union in which you set aside individual interests in favor of the much greater interest of the union. You sacrifice your desires for the greater good.
The phrase "self sacrifice" is unpopular in common culture. Many people, even married people, are out for themselves. They focus on their own needs and desires, while completely discounting the needs of their partner, and arguably more importantly, the needs of the union itself.
When we enter into marriage, we are creating a unit that is greater than the individual parts. The value of the union is much greater than the worth of either individual who enters into the relationship. It is imperative for each member of the union to see the value of the greater whole. The greater good.
One of the greatest sacrifices you can make is to keep your mouth closed. It's hard not to say, "I told you so," or to remind someone of their mistakes. Instead of bringing up past hurts and wrongs, try being quiet.
Rather than choosing to be offended at every perceived slight, choose instead to overlook the offense. Choose to give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Allow yourself to be the bigger person, to forgive in the face of wrong doing, and to love, even when it is hard.
This sacrifice will require great will power. But it has been said that the bigger or more mature person moves first toward reconciliation and forgiveness.
The next time you are given an opportunity to be offended, choose to turn the other cheek. And remember, not everything that your partner does or says is directed at you. It is not all about you.
Give grace, be love, forgive.
"A greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
How do you offer a sacrificial love in marriage, in current times, and what is sacrificial love? The reality of sacrificial love is a daily commitment to putting your partner before yourself. It is usually difficult, irksome, and at times just plain tiresome.
Oftentimes, your sacrifice will go unnoticed. You will go unappreciated. You will not be recognized for what you have given up, forsaken or forgotten. You will be challenged, questioned, and even antagonized. These are the hallmarks of sacrificial love.
Sacrifice requires love and a genuine desire to serve someone else. Sacrifice requires genuine, deep commitment and consideration. While you may not be required to literally give your life for your partner, you must give your life in every moment.
In each moment, you have a choice, to think first about yourself and your wants, needs, and desires or to push those thoughts aside to consider what would be better for the other person and for the greater good of your union.
Each moment offers you an opportunity to sacrifice your life. To give up what you think you want in order to serve your partner, and to make your marriage stronger.
Being married means that you love someone else more than you love yourself. It means that you attend to their needs before you address your own. It means that you sacrifice your life in order to serve them. This is difficult. Irksome. Love makes it easy. Perfect love makes sacrifice a joy.
Marriage and Sacrifice
How often do you sacrifice your needs in favor of serving your partner?
Be careful and discreet; it is much easier to get married than unmarried. If you have the right mate, it's heavenly; but if not, you live in a twenty-four-hour daily hell that clings constantly to you, it can be one of the most bitter things in life.— John J. Robinson, in his book, 'Of Suchness'
Love That Binds Hearts Together
Marriage will influence your entire life, for better or worse, whether it works out or not. If you are married, then you have an opportunity to create an intimate bond that will enhance your own life, your partner's life, and the world around you.
A good marriage is far greater than the sum of its parts. A good marriage enhances life for everyone around it. It motivates, inspires and brings joy not only to the married couple, but also to those lucky enough to spend time around them.
The joy you share, the pain you experience, the achievements and the losses are not yours alone. They belong to the union, to the marriage, and to those around you. Your friends, relatives and associates can learn a great deal, as they see you traverse the peaks and valleys of married life.
And through all the highs and lows, love provides the cement that binds your hearts. You have no way to know what life will throw at you, but if you put your marriage first, with your partners needs before your own, then you will find that even the most devastating lows will be tolerable and bearable.
Advice from the Bible
" Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in and lose heart." Galatians 6:9, Amplified Bible
"However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behavior worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness], and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear]." Ephesians 5:33, Amplified Bible
The Real Truth About Marriage
The truth is marriage isn't always easy.
There are some things your parents, your pastor and your friends may not have told you about being married and staying married. There are some real truths about marriage, and the sooner you learn and embrace them, the happier your union will be.
1. Marriage is hard. Of course, when you are staring into the beautiful eyes of your beloved, you are convinced that love will overcome any difficulty your might face in the future. The truth is, learning to live with another person, and then spending your life together is hard. It takes work. There will be times when one of you is angry, hurt, frustrated, or just plain fed up. In these times, do not lose heart. This too shall pass. There will be good times and bad times, because marriage is just like life itself. Everything is always changing. If you are committed to making your marriage work, then you will get through the hard times and enjoy the good times.
2. Marriage takes sacrifice. You give up your right to be selfish when you say "I Do." No, this is not a popular idea, but for a marriage to be successful, it is necessary for both of you to sacrifice. Put the other person first. Put their needs ahead of your own. Stop thinking only of yourself, and consider your partners feelings, hopes and dreams. Each of you should strive daily to make the other person's life just a little bit better, or a little bit easier, in whatever way you can. It is not always about making huge, life-changing sacrifices. Sometimes, the small things are just as important. The small sacrifices you make daily add up to create a beautiful life, together.
3. Everything always changes. For good or bad, better or worse, things always change. Nothing stays the same forever. You are changing every day. Your partner is changing every day. The world around you is changing every day. Change is inevitable. Suffering comes about when we refuse to accept change, or when we try to control things outside of our control. Relinquish your desire to control things. The key is to accept that change will occur, and then allow yourself to move comfortable into the flow.
4. It is worth it. This might be the best kept secret about being married. The hard times, the sacrifice, the changes, it is all worth it in the end. To find the love that permeates your life, fills you with purpose and drive, and gives your existence deeper meaning is the whole purpose behind joining together in marriage. Yes it will be hard. Yes, you will give up things you want. Yes, things will change. But in the end, you will discover joy and love greater than you could ever have imagined, and you will realize as you walk into the end of your life, that it is all worth it in the end .
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Deborah Demander Reno