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  • Sarah Raad

Sunset

When the sun does set – though you are in the midst of an argument – go to bed together and say good night to each other and remember that through GRACE you will still be married when it rises again.

Saint Louis and Saint Zelie Martin (Parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux)

My beautiful husband and I have just recently celebrated our wedding anniversary. Though we have been married for twelve years now, there was definitely a time when we thought we might not make it to the third year.


So why did we? What was the secret you may ask…


Because marriage is such a difficult vocation and because many marriages very sadly end in divorce – often through no fault of one spouse – it is very common for people to be interested in uncovering the secret of a happy marriage.


I am by no means an expert on this matter. I am not a perfect wife – or even a terribly good one – and though my husband is not a perfect husband at times he makes a better husband than I do a wife! But despite my limitations, during our years together I have learned the one universal secret to a happy marriage.


And it is really no secret at all…


After all, for centuries, Marriage has been celebrated as a SACRAMENT in the Catholic Church which means that as in all sacraments, we receive GRACE when we marry.


And that. Right there, is the SECRET to a HAPPY marriage. GRACE and GRACE ALONE.


Does that mean that a marriage that ends in divorce or an unhappy marriage does not receive Grace? Probably not. But it does mean that in those marriages, when one or both spouses use their free will to choose to disregard that Grace, they make choices to the detriment of their marriage and they are unhappy.


When people get married, what they are REALLY REALLY REALLY vowing, is that they shall put their partner first in all things for the rest of their lives. That is a terribly big commitment. And it requires significant trust. After all, we cannot put a predominantly selfish person first forever or we shall be so worn down that there will be nothing left of us.


Though we girls often dream of our wedding days filled with magical white dresses and fabulous parties, it is not the wedding, but the MARRIAGE that endures and it is not the wedding that we celebrate each year on an anniversary – but the MARRIAGE. And there is a very important reason for that… Because after years of marriage I can see the truth, which is that it is the marriage that requires the work – not the wedding – despite what any newlywed will have you believe…

When I was engaged and around the time of my wedding, I received some advice that is OFTEN given to newlyweds. I was told, “Never let the sun set on an argument.” Now this advice was well meaning and was beautifully offered with great love. There is only one problem with this advice – in my opinion – It. Is. Totally. WRONG!

Now, please do not think that I am saying that you should hold a grudge and keep an argument going night after night where a married couple are so angry with each other that they will not speak with each other. That would be terrible and a terrible strain on the entire family, it would be unhealthy and unpleasing to God.


But what I am saying is that within a marriage there are many times and many issues that will be challenging and will require a significant amount of communication between the spouses simply to explore even before they resolve the issue. There will be many times when a couple will disagree about very substantial and important things that will have a very significant impact in their lives.


Some of these things that the couple will disagree on will be fundamental parts of their married life. Sometimes, they will disagree because they have not adequately prepared for the sacrament of marriage, and so did not have good communication prior to their marriage and have not discussed a presumably predictable possibility. But at other times, the disagreement will be over an issue that the couple could hardly have anticipated – death, financial ruin, illness.


In these cases – when the issue is fundamental and the communication required intense – it is not reasonable to expect a couple to finish their argument in day. In these cases, nothing can ever be solved if the couple are afraid of sleeping in the middle of an argument. Nothing at all. Sometimes, it takes days, weeks, months or even years, for two people to learn how to live together when both completely disagree about a fundamental issue and neither one is even wrong – they are simply different.


The important thing through all of this – I have found – is not that you never let the sun set on an argument. But rather, that when the sun does set – though you are in the midst of an argument – that you go to bed together and say good night to each other and remember, that though you are angry and in disagreement and cannot see how this will resolve, you will still be married when the morning comes.


After all, we do not need to see the end of the road in the darkness. It is enough to see a few metres in front of the car, which is illuminated by the headlights. And that is what GRACE in a marriage does… It allows us to see those few metres ahead on the cold dark nights long after the sun has set, and it allows us to hope – that tomorrow is another day, and everything is going to be okay…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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