MARRIAGE is not an easy vocation. It requires great virtue of 
husbands and wives.

Personal experience reveals how true that is; those who 
cannot claim this personal experience can, in any case, 
accept the statement of psychologists who observe, "Marriage 
is the most difficult of all human relations, because it is the 
most intimate and the most constant. To live so close to 
another person--who in spite of everything remains another 
person--to be thus drawn together, to associate so intimately 
with another personality without a wound or without any 
shock to one's feelings is a difficult thing."

According to an old saying, "There are two moments in life 
when a man discovers that his wife is his dearest possession 
in the world--when he carries her across the threshold of his 
home, and when he accompanies her body to the cemetery."Picture1Picture2

But in the interval between these two moments, they must 
live together, dwell together, persevere together. "To die for 
the woman one loves is easier than to live with her" claim 
those who ought to know. And how many women could claim 
similarly, "To die for the man one loves is easier than to live 
with him."

They must bear with each other.

A French journalist while visiting Canada stopped for a time 
at Quebec. "You have no law permitting a divorce in the case 
of husbands and wives who do not understand each other?" 
he questioned.

"No."

"But what do those married persons do whose discontent is 
continual and whose characters are in no way compatible?"

"They endure each other."

How expressive an answer! How rich in meaning! How 
expressive of virtue which is perhaps heroic! They endure 
each other.

This is not an attempt to deny the delights of married life, 
but to show that more than a little generosity is required to 
bear its difficulties.

In "The New Jerusalem" by Chesterton, a young girl is sought 
in marriage. She opposes the proposal in view of differences 
in temperament between herself and the young man. The 
marriage would certainly be a risk; it would be imprudent. 
Michel, the suitor, retorted to this objection in his own style:

"Imprudent! Do you mean to tell me that there are any 
prudent marriages? You might just as well speak of prudent 
suicides . . . A young girl never knows her husband before 
marrying him. Unhappy? Of course, you will be unhappy. 
Who are you anyway to escape being unhappy, just as well as 
the mother who brought you into the world! Deceived? Of 
course you shall be deceived!"

Who proves too much, proves very little. We can, however, 
through the exaggeration find the strain of truth. "Michel" is a 
little too pessimistic. He makes a good counterpart to those 
who enter into marriage as if in a dream. "Marriage," wisely 
wrote Paul Claudel--and he gives the true idea--"is not 
pleasure; it is the sacrifice of pleasure; it is the study of two 
souls who throughout their future, for an end outside of 
themselves, shall have to be satisfied with each other 
always."

LOVING EACH OTHER IN GOD

WE HAVE already seen that it is essential to advance as 
quickly as possible from a purely natural love to a 
supernatural love, from a passionate love to a virtuous love.

That is clear. No matter how perfect the partners in marriage 
may be, each has limitations; we can foresee immediately 
that at the point where the limitations of the one contact the 
limitations of the other, sparks will easily fly; 
misunderstandings, oppositions, and disagreements will 
arise.

No matter how much effort one puts forth to manifest only 
virtues, one does not have only virtues. And when one lives in 
constant contact with another, his faults appear quickly; "No 
man is great to his valet," says the proverb. Sometimes it is 
the very virtue of an individual which seems to annoy 
another. One would have liked more discretion; one is, as it 
were, eclipsed. Two find their self-love irritated, in conflict.Picture2

Or perhaps virtues no longer appear as virtues by reason of 
being so constantly manifested. Others become accustomed 
to seeing them and look upon them as merely natural traits. 
"There is nothing more than that missing for him or her to be 
different." It is like the sun or the light; people no longer 
notice them. Bread by reason of its being daily bread loses its 
character of "good bread."

Daily intercourse which was a joy in the beginning no longer 
seems such a special delight; it becomes monotonous. 
Husband and wife remain together by habit, common 
interests, honor, even a certain attachment of will, but do 
they continue to be bound together by love in the deepest 
sense of the word?

If things go on in this way, they will soon cease to be much 
concerned about each other; they may preserve a mutual dry 
esteem which habit will render still drier. Where formerly 
there existed a mutual ardor, nothing more remains than 
proper form; where formerly there was never anything more 
than a delicate remonstrance, there now exists depressing 
wrangling or a still more depressing coldness.

Married persons must come to the help of weak human nature 
and try to understand what supernatural love is in order to 
infuse it into their lives as soon as possible.

Is not the doctrine of the Church on marriage too often 
forgotten? How many ever reread the epistle of the Nuptial 
Mass? Meditate on it? In any case, how many husbands and 
wives read it together? Meditate on it together? That would 
forearm them against the invasion of worrisome 
misunderstandings. Why not have recourse to the well-
springs of wisdom?

There are not only the epistles. There is the whole gospel. 
The example of Joseph and Mary at Nazareth is enlightening. 
What obedience and cordial simplicity in Mary! What 
deference and exquisite charity in Saint Joseph! And between 
the two what openness of heart, what elevated dealings! Jesus 
was the bond between Mary, the Mother, and Joseph, the 
foster-father.

In Christian marriage, Jesus is still the unbreakable bond--
prayer together, Holy Mass and Holy Communion together.

Not only should there be prayer with each other, beside each 
other, but prayer for each other.Picture3