February 8, 2008

Be Our Guest / Patti Lamb

Whether married or single, put God at the center of your life

I recently attended a bridal shower for a friend, and one of the games we played was called “Advice for the Happy Couple.”

The purpose of the game was for all the women in the room to give their best relationship advice to the bride-to-be before she begins her journey of marriage.

Each guest had to read her advice aloud, and the responses ranged from sentimental and sweet to witty and humorous.

Everyone had such seemingly polished answers. Many of these women could have gotten jobs writing greeting cards. Some of their responses included:

  • “Don’t go to bed mad.”
  • “Marry your best friend.”
  • “The key ingredient in any marriage is a sense of humor.”
  • “Heed this rule: No dirty socks on the floor.”
  • “Write ‘buy anniversary gift’ on your husband’s calendar one week before your anniversary.”

I was nervous. After all, I am a newcomer to the sacrament of marriage, with only a mere four years under my belt.

How could I come up with some savvy advice that would make all the women in the room smile? Plus, my advice was more rooted in my faith and was quite serious, not humorous or romantic.

When it came to my turn, I read the advice straight from my paper without looking up.

“Put God at the center of your relationship, and everything will come together.”

The room was a little silent, and I felt the need to fill the void so I went on to explain, “Even in as little as four years of marriage, I’ve learned that there are ups and downs that I could never have anticipated: a car accident, building a new house, job changes, two new babies and a beloved family member becoming ill.

“Life is full of change, and the only constant in this ever-changing world is God. So my best advice would be to put God at the center of your marriage, and he will sustain you.”

Soon the excitement of wedding planning and dress shopping and wedding photos are behind us, and that’s when the real journey of togetherness begins.

The years to come will bring with them some things you may never have expected.

There will be bright days that are so sweet you can almost taste them, and you’ll never want them to end.

And there will also be dark nights when your pillow is wet from your tears. But if God is at the center of your union, how can it not ultimately be anything but wonderful?

Each day gives us more time to learn about each other and to grow together.

God gives us the grace of the sacrament of marriage in order for our relationship to work.

Love grows exponentially beyond what you can fathom in even just a short time. There are so many peaks and valleys in marriage that you can’t help but grow closer.

I am thinking of a snapshot in my mind of the first second my husband held our newborn son.

The way he looked at our son and introduced himself (“Hi there, I’m your daddy. I’m so excited to finally meet you.”) made me love my husband even more.

And there have also been times when I could almost feel my heart ache for my husband when a former job nearly robbed him of his sense of self-worth.

I, too, have certainly done my part to take him on a roller coaster ride throughout the last four years.

But we got through these times together as a team.

If God is at the heart of your union then that union will only be made stronger and love will only be made more perfect.

So my best advice to the bride (and the groom) is to put God at the center.

Ultimately, love is God, and God has to be at the center of your relationship in order for it to succeed.

Pray together. Ask God to stay at the center of your relationship and your marriage. Ask him to let your love grow. Ask him to help you raise wonderful children or to give you patience and gentle grace to care for your aged parents. Ask him for the grace of the sacrament to continually renew your love.

Whatever complications or opportunities arise in your marriage, call upon God to guide and direct you, to be at the heart and the helm, and he will not disappoint. And even when there are those doldrums when you and your spouse are at odds, ask God to help you put on love over your frustration.

Just a last bit of advice to those searching for their lifelong mate: I think it’s never too soon to start praying to God to find the right partner.

I’ll always remember one of my aunts telling me, “I’m praying that you find a wonderful spouse.”

I kept that in the back of my mind, and she always reminded me to pray for this, too. So I did.

I prayed for God’s guidance, to be lead to where and to with whom I was supposed to be. I had my own plans, but those plans unfolded and it turns out that God had much better plans for me in the end. I am grateful.

And for those of us not called to the vocation of marriage, I believe this advice still applies.

“Put God at the center of your life, at the center of anything you do, and everything will come together.”

No one led by God will be led astray.

(Patti Lamb is a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield.) †

Local site Links: