We know the statistics. About 40% of marriages fail and those who remain married don’t really enjoy being with each other. I propose 5 ways to be married happily ever after:
1. Practice Mustard Seed Relationships. If the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, then marriage is the best example. In comparison to our mate, we see ourselves as tiny seeds in comparison to their fully grown bushy faith. When enough marriages in society begin to live like mustard seeds, then the Church will be big enough to support society (cf. Luke 13: 18-21, “birds perching on its branches”).
2. We Begin Each Day as Subordinates. In what might be the first premarital counseling session, Paul tells the Ephesian couples, “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ”. (Ephesians 5:21-33). Christ stands watch over every marriage drawing both the husband and the wife to a early grave (i.e. death to self). In the happiest marriages, it’s a race to the death of self.
3. Husbands Demonstrate their love by Teaching. My idea of loving my wife usually refers to household chores and acts of kindness. But Paul exhorts husbands to “cleanse her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the Church in splendor.” As the family priest, we show our love by teaching the Word. Paul adds, “As the Church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.” There is no doubt where the buck stops.
4. Marriage is a Mystery. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.” The Catechism says, “The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath.111 which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant.”
5. Without works the Marriage Dies. Psalm 128:1-5 spells it out: Blessed are you who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; Your children like olive plants around your table.” Why is work sacred? When we work we share in God’s creation. Dave Williamson writes: “Avodah is a Hebrew word that means both worship and work. Paul encourages the Colossians, “And whatever you do, … do it all in the name of Jesus giving thanks to God … whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col. 3:17, 23). It is a high calling!”
There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Chesterton summed it up perfectly:
“No one has even begun to understand comradeship …. It is a clamorous confession of the weakness of all flesh. No man must be superior to the things that are common to men…. Not only are we all in the same boat, but we are all seasick.”