August 12, 2022

2022 Fall Marriage Supplement

God calls married couples to be more than just roommates

By Marcy Renken (Special to The Criterion)

Marcy RenkenHave you ever heard the phrase “living like roommates?” Specifically, I’m referring to this phrase used to describe the way my husband and I were living earlier in our marriage.

Tom had his first job as a software engineer after college, and I was finishing my degree in economics. Our closest family was 900 miles away. We were busy with our toddler, college, work, home remodeling, church choir, and I was playing trumpet in three music groups. We were too busy to live our marriage as one, the way God intended in Genesis 2:24.

We kept track of who did more and when. “I’m not doing the laundry one more time until I see Tom put his own clothes in the hamper.” It’s supposed to be fair, right? We would each give our 50% and it would all work out. We treated our marriage like a contract.

A big life change was just what we needed to have a better marriage, a better life.

After we had been married for about five years, we moved closer to my family. We became angry more often and bitter toward each other. Relocating seemed to highlight our challenges even more and brought in new tensions we had never experienced.

We had been married in the Catholic Church, had a sponsor couple and attended a Tobit weekend. But we still missed the point. We had a relationship, but we weren’t being vulnerable to each other. We couldn’t even have a conversation about faith or money without being at odds, so we rarely tried. We either weren’t comfortable sharing all our struggles or we didn’t quite remember how to share in a healthy way, the way we were shown during marriage prep.

I grew tired of the tension and stumbled upon a weekend retreat called Worldwide Marriage Encounter. During that weekend, Tom shared his flaws and weaknesses and allowed me to accept all of him. I took off my disguises and he accepted me, too.

In the moments of our own weakness, we were each accepted and loved completely for being our broken selves—the way Christ loves. This is the agape love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13 and read aloud at many weddings. It’s a selfless love, the love that gives and doesn’t keep score.

The secrets, loneliness, struggles, depression and excuses we had been carrying were exposed. We found a healthy way to communicate through dialogue. We began to heal from wounds that many couples end their marriage over. God was very clearly calling us to put HIM at the center, to live our marriage as one, to live the covenant he created with us.

The transformation in our marriage lit a spark within us. We began to understand our marriage as a vocation which impacts others around us. In our marriage, we can bring others to Christ.

Pope Francis once said, “Few human joys are as deep and thrilling as those experienced by two people who love one another and have achieved something as a result of a great, shared effort.”

We’ve now been married 20 years and have five wonderful children, so far. Do we still have struggles? Absolutely, and that’s OK! “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). God continues to transform us.

When he was associate pastor at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish, Father Michael Keucher said in one of his homilies, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Take time to nurture your marriage and watch it grow! Attend a marriage retreat or conference. Start a couples’ Bible study. Do something to enrich your marriage. If you need more suggestions, let Tom and me know. We are on fire for marriage!
 

(Marcy Renken, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Greenwood in Greenwood, leads the Celebrate Marriage ministry with her husband Tom. The annual Celebrate Marriage Conference the ministry presents will be held on Aug. 27. Learn more at CelebrateMarriageMinistry.com.)

 

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