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Weddings Are A Day; Marriages Are For Life.

March 5th, 2013by Mary Anne Bressler

There are scads of television shows related to weddings. In most of them, it would appear that the groom is little more than accessory—someone to provide an accent to the bride, who is the star of the show. God certainly doesn’t seem to play much of a role in these affairs. When I watch these shows I wonder how long the actual marriages last. If the entire focus is on creating one perfect day, how much attention is being given to the days, weeks, months and years that follow?

 I wonder if these young couples seeking external perfection for a day ever look at the people I look at as an example of the ideal marriage. The people I look at with admiration, respect and some envy are the couples like my parents, my aunts and uncles and a number of couples I’ve met at parishes, whose marriages have lasted for over half a century. These are the people whose relationships I admire, who I wish I could emulate. These are people who experience a sacrament, not an event. God is right there in the center.

There is a tenderness evident between aging spouses that I find unutterably touching. They have an instinctive ability to read the other, built on years of interaction through the joys and sorrows of life. Every single couple I can think of has a sense of humor about each other and about life. They’ve gotten past being annoyed by the trivia of daily existence. To me, this is the kind of love that God gives us. It stands the test of time and grows deeper as we grow older and learn how to accept it without fear and hesitation, worrying that perhaps it is merely ephemeral. It is the embodiment of that Corinthians reading that so many couples use but so few seem to have actually internalized. Love is patient and kind. It’s also pretty darn challenging. Relying on God for ongoing support is truly a lifesaver in the times of stress.

Our society is so enamored of romantic love, which is often translated as physical attraction accompanied by mere infatuation. Sort of the tweet of relationships. I’d rather go for the lengthy, substantial novel—a big hefty, hardcover sort of life. That is sacramental love, an encounter with the divine that gives us courage and strength and grace. And it is a beautiful thing.

Mary Anne Bressler

Mary Anne Bressler is a parishioner and Pastoral Associate at St. Anthony Church in Madisonville and an adjunct faculty member at Xavier University.