We agonize, we hunger and we thirst for every couple that comes to us for marriage coaching. Spouses call with trepidation, send emails crying out for help, share that their spouse may not come. Pursued by the Holy Spirit, the “hound from heaven,” they end up walking through the doors of our simple office, sitting at our table and sharing their lives. Their stories are similar although their journeys can vary. They come wounded, broken and tired; there seems to be a universal thread with this commentary, Jesus is not the central part of their unions.
Oh, how we know this scenario, as we too were busy, in the first five years of our marriage, being distracted by the things of this world. It was our careers, spending hours on planning and then remodeling our house to meet our desires. If we weren’t still playing sports, we were either immersed in our kids’ athletic success or imprisoned to our favorite college/professional team. Sadly, looking back on our early years in marriage, if we really think about it, our married relationship was based on selfishness. Once the “honeymoon” was over or the sentimentality of “falling in love” dulled, we didn’t experience joy. We had fun, individually, at the expense of our marital and familial joy. Fun is momentary, joy points to the eternal.
Experiencing joy in our marriage occurred when I decided to give God some of my time. I remember hearing a layman talk at the end of Mass about the fruits in his life of visiting our Lord Jesus regularly in the adoration chapel. One thing rang in my ears, He said, “If you have the courage to sign up to be a regular adorer and pray in the chapel, pick a sacrificial time.” That comment blazed a hole right in the center of my heart and I knew my time, 2 PM on Sundays. That is when the Broncos game comes on. Secondly, it had been several years that I had gone away from the sacrament of reconciliation. Upon my reluctant return to confession, I became aware that God longed for me.
19 years ago, for the first time in my life, I experienced intimacy with Jesus. In all of my brokenness and sin and its ugliness, the Divine Healer – Jesus – touched my heart. I understood, in a profound way, why Holy Mother Church calls this the sacrament of healing. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (CCC 1456), “for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.” When I heard the words of absolution through the priest, “I absolve you from all your sins,” I knew that it was Jesus, through our Holy Mother, that was making me new again. As my love for Jesus and Our Lady continues to grow, so does my burning desire to share this with my bride, Mindy; as we now approach 25 years married.
Allowing the stories of sacred scripture to come alive in our own lives, we get the answers to why Jesus is in such agony in the garden and why He thirsts from His venerable cross. It is for each one of us. In our marriage coaching, we are like physician assistants, helping other married couples open their hearts to God. The fruit of inviting God into every part of our lives is gaining the eyes to see, our spouse is not our foe. With grace, we stop fighting for our own rights, align with our helpmate and drink from the only source that will bring everlasting joy – Jesus Christ, the bridegroom of our souls, the Divine Physician.