The past several weeks have not been good ones for me. That probably goes without saying. In such a short time, my life has changed dramatically: a new home, the death of my cousin, my Husband's new job, and a pervasive feeling of homesickness. I have not eaten much, nor have I felt like praying.
I regret to say that I have not been a very good wife. A good wife does not throw a plate of lettuce across the room in her husband's direction. She does not chuck an iced coffee across the car park lot in a childish fit. Nor does not swear like a sailor at him or speak to him condescendingly; slowly, as unto a small child.
It does not matter one whit what I know or what I believe if I do not live it. Traditional marriage might be something I believe in and advocate for, but what good are my ideas or convictions without practice? Indeed, they are worth very little.
Today has changed something for me. I woke up this morning quite ill. In all honesty, I had not been feeling well for some time. Perhaps this has to do with the severe under-eating. I felt sad that I had to miss Mass and dinner with extended family. Yet, my Husband-- my wonderful, loving Husband-- acted as Christ in my life, in a way that touched me in the depths of my heart... He nursed me back to health. His care for me was so tender, so true, that it broke my stone heart and deepened my devotion to him. How can one not help but adore a man such as this?
I have resolved to amend my life. It started with this essay which will be included below. The essay to my Husband was one of the requirements from a blow-up earlier in the week. His love for me today so deeply moved my soul that, as soon as I was able to sit up, I began to write the work. Now that my depths of my heart concerning marriage have been written, may I truly live it.
My prayer is that you, my blog reader, might read it and be inspired to live likewise. I also hope that, in posting it, you might keep me accountable in the days and weeks ahead.
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My Lord Husband,
First of all, it is right and just in the sight of God that I address you as such. As our first Holy Father, Saint Peter, commented on the holy women of antiquity: "For after this manner heretofore the holy woman also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: As Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord" (1 Peter 3:5-6a; Douay-Rheims).
Indeed, you are my lord and master, because you are the living embodiment of Christ in my life. Just as the church is subject to Christ in all things, so I am to you. Saint Paul wrote:
"Let woman be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any; such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular love his wife as himself: and let the wife fear her husband" (Ephesians 5:22-19, 33).
Truly, I should be in awe of you. Not only are you an excellent man on your own merit-- someone I feel quite intimidated by at times-- but, what is more, you are the Voice of God in my life. How much more, then, ought I revere you?
Marriage is a holy institution, a sacrament of two persons becoming one flesh for the purposes of holiness, sanctification. and to ultimately help the other to achieve eternal life with God. Just as the sacrament reflects the divine order between God, Christ, and the Church, so our very lives ought to do the same. As a wife, as a woman, my place is below you. I am to love you, obey you, submit to you, reverence you, and serve you with meekness and fear. You are to love me, guide me, and keep my soul from blemish, so that on the Day of Judgement I might be presented to God as His holy servant.
Saint Francis De Sales, in "An Introduction to the Devout Life," expounds on all of this by saying:
"Therefore, husbands, do you preserve a tender, constant, hearty love for your wives. It was that the wife might be loved heartily and tenderly that woman was taken from the side nearest Adam's heart. No failings or infirmities, bodily or mental, in your wife should ever excite any kind of dislike in you, but rather a loving, tender compassion; and that because God has made her dependent on you, and bound to defer to and obey you; and that while she is meant to be your helpmeet, you are her superior and her head. And on your part, wives, do you love the husbands God has given you tenderly, heartily, but with a reverential, confiding love, for God has made the man to have the predominance, and to be the stronger; and He wills the woman to depend upon him,--bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh,--taking her from out the ribs of the man, to show that she must be subject to his guidance. All Holy Scripture enjoins this subjection, which nevertheless is not grievous; and the same Holy Scripture, while it bids you accept it lovingly, bids your husband to use his superiority with great tenderness, lovingkindness, and gentleness. 'Husbands, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel'" (Part III, Chapter 38).
When I begin consider just what the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony truly is, I realise with shame just how far I have strayed from its holy meaning. As your wife, I ought to be your dependent in every sense of the word. The holy apostles and saints have used imagery from Christ and the church and of Adam and Eve to explain this reality. Yet, what have I done? I have been disobedient and independent, acting as a shrew and relying on my own vices to support my headstrong will.
When I act against God's order and plan for my life, I understand that I am doing damage, both to my soul and to yours. Though my faults, in my naughtiness, and even when I demonstrate great wickedness at times, I do reprehensible damage to my own soul. Yet, I do damage to you, as well; for if you are charged with my soul's safekeeping, then how will Almighty God judge you for allowing me to remain in my sin? If I were to die in such a state, would not your own soul be in jeopardy? Your role is great and terrible, indeed. How foolish I am to work against you instead of with you.
My love, my lord, I beg for your forgiveness and I surrender to you-- fully, and as unto God Himself-- this day of my life, and forever forward. Instead of being headstrong and quick-tempered, I will be meek and humble of heart. Where fierce independence has ruled my choices, I will acquiesce to your will. I will cling to you, depend on you, never letting anything be hidden from your sight. I will obey you and submit to you with all love, coupled by a holy and reverential fear. I will vend my stubborn neck and submit to your yolk; and you will lead me as you will, in whatever direction you choose to take. My delight will be in fulfilling your slightest wishes; my joy, perfect subservience.
And, when I err, as I will undoubtedly will do, I will approach you for correction with a contrite heart. I will feel sorrow for having offended you. My purpose will be to reform and amend my life. I will accept your scoldings as I would spoonfuls of honey, for indeed, they are words meant for the nourishment and health of my soul. Whatever subsequent correction you choose to deliver, be it mild or severe, meant to humiliate me or to break my will, my soul will accept it with grace. I will understand that it is your right-- and even your holy task-- to correct me as you must. I choose to work with you instead of against you, being eternally grateful for your absolute control over my life.