Monday, November 25, 2013

Dreams Do Come True - Following Up

In a recent article I wrote about the waiting that is a part of all ways of life, including marriage. I wrote about how marriage doesn't fulfill all our dreams.

Someone left a comment on the article expressing how they didn't feel that marriage could really be as disappointing as I made it sound. That was a comment that I felt should be addressed in a new article, because the answer was too complicated to be adequately given in a com-box. 

My initial reaction was to smile. Marriage has been anything but a disappointment to me. It's glorious. I love it. I love every minute of it. As I mentioned in the previous article, my husband is an amazing man. Every day with him is beauty. This is truly a dream come true.

But after that reaction, my realization is that if I had gone into  marriage believing that it would solve all my problems and take the shadows out of my life, then YES, I would have been so, so disappointed.

When I was engaged and preparing for my marriage, I think one of the most important things I realized was that entering into this way of life was not going to be stepping onto the path of roses and rainbows. While I still believed then and know for certain now that marriage was going to enrich my life and make it happier, I understood that getting married was an invitation to suffering.

Yes, marriage brings suffering. It brings acute suffering.

Marriage invites the pain of infertility. Marriage invites the pain of a miscarriage. Marriage invites the pain of financial problems when you have little ones depending on you. Marriage invites the pain of rash words hurting countless times as much because they were spoken by the one you love most of all. Marriage invites the pain of seeing your child fall away from God. Marriage invites the pain of horrible loneliness when the beloved you spent your life with is taken from you.

Does that sound disappointing?

That depends on you and your perspective. Whether or not you'll be disappointed depends on what your attitude towards marriage is.

Do you think that marriage is a state of life designed to satisfy you? To make you feel warm and loved? To fulfill you and make you happy?

You're probably going to be disappointed.

Do you think that marriage is something man and wife enter into for the sake of sanctifying each other? Do you think it's designed to help you grow in holiness? Do you think that your primary mission in it isn't to scramble for your own self-fulfillment, but to sacrifice yourself daily in countless ways for the love and salvation of your spouse?

You're going to be fine.

The suffering and responsibility that comes with marriage is something that needs to be thought about if you're serious about entering into the vocation of marriage. They're going to come whether you like it or not. And the more you think about it and pray about it, the better you'll be able to handle it when it comes.

I know so many single girls who have an attitude of intense expectation towards marriage. The very real pain of their singlehood has led them to believe that marriage is going to solve all their problems. They sincerely believe that all their discontent with life can be attributed to their lack of a husband, and that as soon as they have him life will be all sunshine.

There will be sunshine. I know this from personal experience.

But I also know that it hurts like crazy.

Better than that, I know the hurt is what makes my marriage wonderful. When things are bright and cheery and my husband and I are out on an ice cream date on a sunny afternoon, that's nice.

But when things are dark and gloomy and we're both hurting and I make it worse by lashing out at him in my pain... and when he takes me in his arms anyway and tells me that he loves me, and holds me while I cry and until I fall asleep... and when I wake up and find the house clean and a wonderful dinner made, and his smile full of tenderness for me...

That's not nice. That's amazing. You get the feeling like when you see Christ bloody on the Cross. Everything in you shivers, and you ask: What wondrous love is this?

I hope this doesn't sound disappointing to you single girls. Don't feel like the Jews who wanted the Savior to come in glory with banners and armies and not born in a stable and riding into the city on a donkey.

I hope it sounds beautiful. It is. I hope you will experience it in on your lives. Yes, I hope for suffering for you. I hope for the hardships of marriage. Why?

Because marriage doesn't make life golden. The Love of God does, and it does whether you're single or married or in the religious life. Marriage is a truly amazing way of experiencing it. And so I hope that your dreams come true and you can be married and have a heart open to the suffering it brings. Ice cream dates are nice, but I want you to experience the deep and intense love that grows when your husband is hurting but he stills lays down his life for you again and again and again and again.

And I really, really hope that when you're hurting you will lay down your life for him again and again and again.

If you do, forget about sunshine. It's nothing compared to the level of joy that will fill your hearts and your lives.

Take a good look at a picture of a holy marriage. Don't tell me that this is disappointing. This is amazing.


  1. Clare, with EVERYTHING that you post, I'm always in awe and just dying because you phrase stuff so beautifully. YES. This is what I've been trying to rationalize with myself. The suffering and the glory and love that comes from it. The cross cannot be separated from the resurrection. But you phrase it so beautifully, so THANK YOU. <3

  2. So beautiful Clare. I've enjoyed your reflections on marriage, as it really helps me in the discernment process. So thank you deary! <3


  3. This is exactly what I needed today! Thank you so much. It's beautiful with the amazement and pain of it. <3 Pure glory.

  4. Thank you, Clare. It's true. Marriage isn't heaven. Marriage is marriage: a holy bond between man and woman. But...they are people. And people are weak.

    Marriage is like the Church. Our Church is holy but Catholics are people too.

    Our life on the Earth can't be perfect, without suffering and hard times... But it's okay because we can't love without suffering. And we must grow and grow to becoming saints - we can do that by the troubles. After some hard time in my life (in my marriage) I feel I'm wiser and stronger and my husband and me, we can love each other better.than before.

  5. Thank you for your thought-full and thought-provoking post, Clare!

  6. I am the one who left the anonymous comment on the original post. I thank you for taking the time to clarify what you meant, and I look forward to future thoughts from you and your readers. I'm also glad you know I wasn't trying to make trouble - I tried to word my comment just right so that would be clear! :-)

    1. No, it certainly wasn't taken as trouble! :) I'm very glad that you left your previous comment, because it gave me the motivation to expand more, and I'm glad that this made things clearer. I'm so constantly amazed at how different marriage is from how I envisioned it as a single girl, and I'd hate to give the impression that it's worse. It's so, so much better. ♥

  7. This is a very beautiful post, Clare! I wish more people in the world could enter marriage with this attitude!

  8. You should see the goosebumps I have. You always write things and clarify them at the right time, and I know it's because you live so closely to Christ. You truely do have a special mission, I feel, to comfort and advise us single girls when we're longing and hurting. Thank you.

  9. Thank you! This makes me much more confident as I discern marriage with a wonderful young man. I keep feeling like maybe I'm too excited about being married - but I think I'm okay, because I'm excited about facing the challenges, too. Thanks for the reminder and the reassurance.

  10. This is an amazing post on what a Catholic marriage should be. It certainly gave me (an unmarried girl about to go to college) a reality check ( in a good way). Just like anything else that's beautiful in life, marriage is about sacrificing yourself for each other. We can't expect the 'insta-everything's perfect all the time', 'my husband should only be serving me because I'm obviously more important' life that the media presents to us. Above all, we should be thinking about each other's souls and our children's souls and how much we would sacrifice and offer up so that all of the families of the world could be together in heaven - because that's the ultimate point of any vocation, after all, helping as many people as possible get to heaven, whether with our prayers, our thoughts or our actions. Excellent post!

  11. This is so beautiful Clare. Thank you for sharing such hopeful words. They blessed me today!


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