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Auntie Seraphic & the Reader Who Dreams of Happiness in Marriage

Friday, July 26, 2013
Poppets! Never forget that I am not an expert on marriage. I am rather more well-known for having been Single for a long time and not having forgotten what it's like. I'm kind of new on marriage stuff. Meanwhile, I can't just write whatever I think about marriage because (A) if I write that it is absolute bliss, I risk rubbing my Single readers noses in it and (B) if I write that I want to wallop my husband with a frying pan, he (and his friends) will read it and feel sad.

MEANWHILE, whenever I write about how fabulous female friendships are, and how girls rule, and how life is not worth living without female companionship, consider that I live four thousand miles away from most of my female friends and relations. I work from home, and I go to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass which is, incidentally, where all the boys are. I have no children. My only pet is a basil plant named PaweĊ‚, and he's looking rather peaky.

ALSO, I have been married for 4.5 years, and therefore see marriage rather differently than Single readers, or readers who have been married for 6 months, or readers who have been married for 45 years, or Alice von Hildebrand and other widows.

You must keep all these things in mind, and if you ever feel really lousy after reading one of my posts, I recommend snorting, "Ah! What does she know?" and finding a cute kitten video at once.

Dear Auntie Seraphic, 

Thank you for running this blog. It has a lot of good advice. This email originally started out as a comment, but once I realized that it was turning into a depressing monologue, I decided to Ctrl + C and post it into a good old-fashioned e-mail. :-)

May I say that I become increasingly sad (I am usually sad to begin with) whenever I read one of your posts on men & women, ESPECIALLY in marriage?

Frankly speaking, I have never witnessed a happy marriage. However, the little fairy-tale loving section of my soul just will not die, and I continue to hope that there IS such a thing as a happy, passionate, understanding marriage. 

I don't think you *intend* to do this, but you are slowly but surely convincing me that there is not such a thing.  To clarify, I know that love is not the way it's portrayed in Taylor Swift songs. I know that emotions come and go.  But you have shown me that: The passionate feelings experienced within the first couple years of a relationship will go away - and not come back.  A man will never understand you. This one BREAKS. MY. HEART. As an emotionally abandoned/abused child, all I've ever wanted in my life is to be understood. Also, I watched my parents "misunderstand" each other for 25 years. 

I do not know what to think. I am so sad. :-(

Reader Who Dreams of Happiness in Marriage

Dear Reader Who Dreams of Happiness in Marriage,

Don't be sad. Well, you can be sad, but there is no real NEED to be sad. The complete and total joyful understanding that you long for is available. 

The thing is, it comes from God. Your heart will be restless until it rests in Him, i.e. after you die. [Actually, some saints manage to be perfectly content with Him in this life, too.]

A good husband is a wonderful creature and a very great gift from God, but at the end of the day he is just another fallible human being and no husband (or wife) can fill the God-shaped hole in any human heart. Still, there's a reason we use "husband" as an analogy for God and "bride" as the analogy for Church, although I have to admit that these are problematic from a woman's point of view. (It helps that male mystics talk about even their souls being female.)

There are happy marriages, indeed! And as for understanding, understanding is built over time. But this understanding is not just "a feeling"or an understanding of a spouse's good points, but a deep understanding of his or her faults, too, and ultimately a coming to peace with the faults, or a noticing that the faults have gone away with work or time. Honestly, this takes TIME [and patience, humility, courage, patience, humility and courage. And patience. Also humility. And patience.]

As for "passion", the honeymoon craziness does wear off, but it flares up here and there, and anyway, it usually [with God's Grace, I should have said] leaves behind a kind of spiritual glue. The spiritual glue gets stronger and stronger. I think the reason why sometimes widows or widowers just turn over and die a week or so after their spouses die is this spiritual glue. Don't think this spiritual glue is less important than "passion." No way, Hosea. 

Meanwhile, if B.A. still acted and felt the way he did when we were engaged, he would probably starve to death: every time I went away on a trip, he would stop eating. And every time I went on a trip, I would cry and live for his phone calls and get nose bleeds, etc. Although that may sound romantic, eight months [actually, two years] of that was really enough. 

Crying for the passion of the early years of a marriage is like crying because it is June, not the first gloriously sunny day in April. For everything there is a season, even the passion of newlyweds. And in fact it is dangerous to think that passion is the be-all and end-all of a happy marriage because people who do tend to get divorced or run around until they realize that it is not. It is necessary to kick-start a marriage (a western marriage, anyway), including the sexual side of marriage, which continues with enjoyment, good-will and jokes, even if without the breathless passion everyone writes about in songs.  

I hope this is helpful. I like marriage very much, and I love my husband very much. I still think he is the perfect man for me, although I know that he is not perfect, and he most definitely knows I am not perfect either. If I sound rather more cranky than I should about the inadequacy of men to be more than just "a part of this complete breakfast", it may be because most of my female friends and relations are far, far away most of the time. 

Grace and peace,

I hope I got across the "spiritual glue" part. Passion is like a basil plant; it springs up and it dies (and you can get more). But love is like in the Song of Solomon: "strong as death." That's the spiritual glue.