The Keys to Mutual Love ~ Fr. George Kelly



by Father George Kelly. The Catholic Marriage Manual

To succeed at any vocation, you must have patience, a determination to learn, a willingness to put aside momentary desires for the sake of final success. The vocation of marriage is no exception. It requires hard work. In fact, it is probably the hardest job of all.

For example, consider what a wife and mother must be. She must be an inspiring companion to her husband. She must be a housekeeper who has some skill in cooking, sewing and cleaning. She must be something of an economist, able to handle her household budget and to shop efficiently for food, furnishings and clothing.

She must be proficient in the feeding and physical care of her children. She must be a nurse. She must be a teacher with a working knowledge of child psychology to discipline her youngsters properly.

In addition to the actual skills needed for the successful performance of these jobs, she requires spiritual and emotional qualities —patience, tolerance, understanding, kindness, gentility, fortitude, prudence.

The successful husband and father needs similar qualities. To inspire respect for his leadership he should be reasonably competent as a man: he must be the head of the family; he must be a provider for his wife and children.

He must be a source of inspiration to his wife, encouraging her to fulfill her duties as wife and mother. He, too, must be a teacher, for his example will probably be the most important influence in the development of his son’s personality.

He also requires insights into the spiritual and emotional needs of his wife and children. He requires high resolutions and a strong sense of duty to meet those needs.

Since it is obvious that a man and woman need so many qualities to succeed as husband and wife and as father and mother, why do so many take the marriage vows without really knowing what will be expected of them?

Even couples who have lived together for years sometimes fail to realize how many adjustments they must make and how much self-discipline they must impose if their marriage is to weather future difficulties successfully.

Listen to the dreamy popular songs on the radio, read the romantic novels in many magazines, and view the love stories portrayed on television or in the movies. Seldom will you find even a vague suggestion that the vocation of marriage requires unremitting hard work by both partners.

Problems that arise in marriage as portrayed on television are almost always solved in time for the final commercial. Popular songs convey a constant impression that personality conflicts can be washed away in the sea of sex.

Even articles on marriage in popular magazines and books, seriously intended to help couples achieve better adjustment, often introduce a typical problem and, a few sentences later, report how the couple, by performing a magic act like visiting a marriage counselor, correct all past difficulties and live happily thereafter.

Few publications emphasize that mutual sacrifice is essential to marital success.

In that magnificent little volume The Imitation of Christ, compiled by Thomas Kempis in the fifteenth century, it is written: “Unless thou deny thyself, thou shalt not have perfect liberty.”

Those words might be studied by every married person. Unless you practice severe self-discipline and subjugate your own desires, striving instead to fulfill the needs of your spouse and children, you cannot gain the full happiness of marriage.

Despite what the movies say, no one “finds” happiness. If you obtain it at all, you must earn it. And it will be earned only by what the Catholic marriage ritual calls “the great principle of self-sacrifice.”

On your wedding day you surrendered your individual lives in the interest of a deeper and wider common life. From that day forward you belonged to each other. You were expected to become one in mind, one in heart, and one in affections.

And as the ritual counseled: “Whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this common life, always make them generously.”

Does this mean that we must picture married life in grim, terrifying colors? Not a bit! Sacrifice is difficult and irksome only in the absence of love.

Love makes it easy, and the more perfect the love, the more joy in the sacrifice.

When two people learn to bear patiently with marriage and with each other, marital harmony is the result. And this meeting of minds is the greatest source of happiness humans can obtain on earth.

No earthly pleasure can match that which the loving husband gives his wife, the wife gives her husband, or children give their parents. Very few people indeed appreciate that it is the warm and living union of two persons which alone gives life its full meaning.

“Where is the busy mother who cannot find time enough to spend thus a few moments every night with each child before it falls asleep, in sweet, loving talk; and tender, earnest prayer? Far down into the years, the memory of such sacred moments will go, proving thousands of times a light in darkness, an inspiration in discouragement, a secret of victory in hard struggle, a hand to restrain from sin in time of fierce temptation.” -J.R. Miller


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