“The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace."
To the world you may
Marriage in the Plan of God
Before we begin, just to let you know, we realize that not all of you are of one faith just as your Guide Couples are not all of one faith. There may be some of you who are at a place in your life where you are not sure exactly what you believe about a higher power. As expressed in the Parable of the Sower, all we ask is that you be open to what we share from our hearts, lives and spirituality.
We chose the Music Room for this presentation on Marriage in the Plan of God, because beautiful music is characterized by great harmony. In the earlier presentation on the Symptoms of Spiritual Divorce, we learned that these symptoms exist because of a lack of harmony in our relationship.
In English, the word “plan” has an element of predestination, or the master blueprint. But that is not what is meant by the Spanish word which implies a dream or a vision. So when Father Calvo calls upon couples to live within God's plan, he is not saying there is some master blueprint for us to follow; he means we should uniquely and individually respond to God's loving call for unity as this call comes to us through our marriage and our family.
In the beginning, I didn’t know if God had a plan for our marriage. You see, we were both married to someone else when we met. So I know in the eyes of God that was wrong, but it didn’t stop us from dating and eventually were both divorced and then we married. The first few years were happy. Then the happiness wore off and we became miserable. However, something was keeping us together, and I don’t think it was our love for each other because that was about gone.
After three marriage counselors, someone with more sense than both of us, turned us toward Marriage Encounter and told us, “Now you will get to experience the happiness of a good marriage.” Sometimes the idea of God having a plan for our marriage is hard for me to understand, but if God did not have a plan for Susan and me to spend the rest of our lives together, He would not have given us a way to stay together and live in His love.
I must have slept through this presentation. I don’t remember much about God's plan or where we fit into this plan. Ken and I were having enough problems with our relationship without worrying about any plan God had for us. I had no religious training in childhood and knew very little about the bible. But during team training I listened to this presentation and realized that a higher power brought us to Marriage Encounter and opened our eyes to the fact that we did love each other and wanted to make our marriage work.
That same higher power led us to stay involved with Marriage Encounter which gave us a sense of direction and a united purpose.
In this talk, we quote directly from the bible for two reasons:
First, it is Fr. Calvo's belief, as well as the cornerstone of Marriage Encounter, that the bible is the Word of God speaking to us, though it is not the only way God reveals Himself to us.
Second, we are discussing God’s plan for marriage so we use the scriptures. The first book of Genesis shows that God created man and woman in a special way.
“God created man in His image; in the divine image He created him; male and female He created them”
That passage tells me that God loved us so much that He made us in His own image. I’m especially fascinated by the statement, “male and female He created them.” The image of God is neither man alone nor woman alone, but man AND woman.
The bible also tells us in 1 John 4:16 : “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.” We, as married couples, have reason to feel special in God’s eyes. For a couple living in unity more closely reflects the loving image of God than anything else we observe. The image of God is both male and female together.
This thought prompts me and Susan to look at how we are alike in some ways yet very different , and how our differences blend together in harmony, much like good music.
I like to watch baseball and football every chance I get, and Susan hates it. We both enjoy the outdoors and camping. I’m happy sleeping on a mat in a tent, while Susan wants hot and cold running water and a bed to sleep in. So we blend our differences together – I watch sports while Susan sits nearby and does scrapbooking. We go camping in a trailer. This way we’re both happy and enjoy being together.
Ken and I have seen that our differences compliment each other, but they do not put us in competition with each other.
For example, I want everything done yesterday and Ken is perfectly happy to wait until tomorrow. Ken tends to worry about the “what ifs” and I don’t even worry about the “what ares”. I like to try new, exotic foods and Ken is strictly meat and potatoes. I want to be on the go, while Ken is content to stay home and relax. Ken tends to be more outgoing which helps in meeting new people while I am more likely to listen and observe. Ken likes to get right to the point and I am more of a diplomat.
This may sound like we don’t live in harmony, but that is not true; often our differences are assets. Ken's worrying makes me plan for all the contingencies and my not worrying can lessen his concern for what might happen. My wanting to be on the go gets Ken away from the television, and his wanting to stay home helps me to slow down and relax. We can retain our individuality while still meeting each other's needs.
In Chapter 2 of Genesis, it says, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, but none proved to be a suitable partner for the man.
“So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, He took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: ‘This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called woman for out of her man this one has been taken.’
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”
Husband and wife ideally create a community of love – a trusted bond in which we feel free to be ourselves, safe to share all that we hold inside, our hopes, dreams, fears, deep feelings and thoughts. The Lord tells us that this relationship of husband and wife holds a priority and comes before all other human loves.
In our marriage, Ken and I have always supported the other's educational and career goals. When Ken went back to school to get his B.A., I gave him my emotional support as well as typing all his papers. When I went back to finish up my degree, Ken was behind me 100% and did not complain about all the nights and weekends I spent doing homework. When Ken decided to accept a job offer in Jefferson County, I quit my job and we moved. My new job requires working late two nights a week and Ken gets dinner started those nights so we can eat together when I get home.
Since we both work, we share the responsibilities of housework and meals. I run errands and keep the cars running. When Susan gets running around like a hamster on a wheel, I help her slow down by taking her out to dinner where she can enjoy some exotic food (what else) and I can have meat and potatoes (no surprise here).
Matthew 19:6 has been a popular passage used at wedding ceremonies. It states, “. . .so they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Fr. Calvo is so convinced that God wants couples to live in unity, he has written his Golden Rule, based on this scripture. It says, “All that promotes real marital and family unity is in accordance with the plan of God. Whatever endangers or corrupts marital and family unity is not in accordance with God’s Plan.”
This unity does not mean becoming alike or losing my individuality. It does mean recognizing and using our differences to build the uniqueness of our marriage. Marriage is a union of two people, husband and wife. Our goal in marriage is unity. One does not necessarily result in the other.
A friend once described two cats in a sack as a union but it certainly was not unity. For a number of years, Ken and I were like those two cats. There was a chronic feeling of emptiness with each of us going our own way and doing our own thing. We only got together occasionally to fight. It seemed like the only goal we had in common was making the other miserable. We certainly did not view our couple relationship as an image of God. Our marriage more closely resembled a battlefield than it did a community of love. We have now learned that our marriage is part of God's plan, part of his vision or hope that we become united as helpmates and live in harmony with each other.
A time when we felt most united in our marriage was when my father died. We were many miles away and I ached to think of the many things I wish I had said to him. I fell apart and Susan was there to hug me and comfort me.
Sometimes more unity is felt when one of us is more vulnerable and in need, and the other can be there to comfort and take away the pain. God’s plan is different for each person, each couple, and each family. We need to listen to God speaking to us. God’s plan is an ongoing process that never ends. It is two people working toward a common goal with a joint sense of direction.
Unity is working together in harmony. It is in working toward unity that we find the joy we spoke of in the “Law of Life” for unity enables us to work through from illusion and disillusionment to joy. If we have a disagreement and pull apart or withdraw from each other and each does his own thing, our relationship gets out of harmony and symptoms of Spiritual Divorce result. Alienation is overcome by seeking unity. We become progressively more united, as we open ourselves to one another through dialogue. It is unconditional love – giving of our real selves to the other without asking for anything in return. Then one plus one becomes a new one.
The world's plan often appeals to us with its immediate pleasures. But God has a special plan for married couples--to live in unity, and experience peace and harmony. We have a clear choice to make: We can live according to the world's plan with its continual quest for happiness, or, we can live according to God's plan with its gentle call to unity. Even God won't make that choice for us--it's up to us to decide.
Fr. Calvo asks us to look at the events in our lives which have united us most. Then we can recognize that the unity we experienced during those moments stem from the fact that together (as husband and wife) we were living in the image of God.
Please try to answer the questions that follow thoroughly and thoughtfully. Describe your feelings well enough that your spouse can experience what it's like to be you.
When you join together for dialogue, take a few moments to look into each other's
eyes before exchanging your letters. Be aware, not just of your partners love, but of your partners desire to love more deeply.
Allow 20 minutes for PR and 20 minutes for CD.
Go in peace and write with love!
Your next presentation will help you share more deeply as a couple. It will take place in the Private Den in the Marriage Mansion. Your Guide Couple is Kyle and Darlene. Enjoy!
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