Not too long ago by my reckoning time, I was taking a class at Purdue University. The professor was highly regarded and the class was titled Marriage and the Family.
He entered the room and announced his name and proudly proclaimed: “I am well qualified to teach this class since I have been married three times.” Needless to say, I believed that three marriages did not qualify anyone as an expert on marriage.
Then, he surprised us by saying he had used the same ring all three times. (Cheap?) And then he added, “Same girl, too.”
His entire talk that morning was to bring out the fact that the commitment to marriage must change.
“My first marriage, he said, consisted of looking at each other, longing for each other, and basking in the delight that marriage provided. It was a lovely, lovely time. The honeymoon or infancy of marriage.”
But just as infants grow and change and have new needs almost daily, there comes a time when the married couple are no longer two in one. Another “intruder” has entered their lives. The happiness brought by a child’s birth brings other responsibilities, other restrictions on the couple’s time and finances. There is less time for being alone together. Years pass, and perhaps there are other bundles of joy to join them. Each of these new additions changes the tone and complexity of family life and therefore marriage. My professor had to look at his commitment to the girl he married, and say “I do” with a different vision of love the two of them entertained at the start of their relationship. Whatever came up in the care of children, in health matters and new interests, the marriage commitment had to be renewed. Thus, came the second “I do.”
Children grow and become adults and move away from the family home. For a couple to find themselves without the immediate care of children sometimes knocks the wind out of family life. Oops! Another “I do.” The time a couple has together when the house is empty of children often comes while they are still involved in the work place. It can happen that work fills up the time that was formerly required by children. But he realized his commitment to his wife was in jeopardy if he did that. So the two of them worked out a plan for couple time. That was the big part of the third “I do.”
Love had been there all the time. It was just the adjustment to the expression of that love that changed. What a wonder marriage is! And what a beautiful gift!
As St. Valentine’s Day approaches, I hope you’ll be inspired to renew your very own “I do” commitments to your most precious relationships!
Peace, joy, & everything good,
Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF
Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries. She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses. Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships. One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.
Celebrate LOVE with us! We invite all couples to join us for a romantic candlelight dinner & discussion on “Love & Marriage,” Saturday February 4th from 4-8pm! OSF Associate Carolyn Meyer and her husband Jim will offer a light-hearted view about their 31 years of marriage and the things that have brought them together and challenged them to grow. Whether you are newly engaged, newly wed, in the ‘middle-age’ of family life, or celebrating your retirement years, come join us to honor your most precious relationship! $50 per couple includes the program, dinner, and Mass (optional).