How beautiful that women called to the vocation of marriage are disposed to receive the love of both the divine and an earthly bridegroom. Married life, in its purest form, affords an opportunity to know the Father’s love more perfectly by giving to and receiving from our spouse. Every person, however, remains a mystery to be constantly unveiled and made more real--true to who God has created him or her to be.
To illuminate the engagement, wedding, and marriage experiences from the perspective of men chasing sainthood and excruciating love, we’ll be periodically sharing a word from the bridegrooms in our lives. This week we chatted with Andrew, a high school teacher, father of three, and husband to Spoken Bride’s Co-Founder and Editor in Chief, Stephanie Calis.
Tell us about your discernment journey, before and during the time you began dating your wife.
When we met in college, Stephanie was in a relationship and I wasn’t the sort of guy to try and intervene. In the classes we had together, I found myself more and more interested to hear what she would say. But I refused to admit I was romantically interested. I told my friend and bandmate, “I don’t want to date Stephanie, but I want to find someone who has all her qualities. Just someone like her.”
Although I had a consistent prayer life at the time, I was still in a band, doing band things, and didn’t always watch my language or sense of humor. There was something about my wife that’s hard to put into words; something that made me want to be better. It’s not just “pure,” or “holy,” but maybe “deeply worthy of love.” Like someone that you want to cherish.
What saints have played a role in your relationship?
JPII!I learned about the Theology of the Body from Stephanie and it was one of the most formative times in my life. I also have a longtime devotion to Saint Jude, because I can be dramatic and think normal things are “hopeless cases” like finishing a paper on time or getting a job. These two men of faith have always pulled through for us.
What was your engagement like, and how did you work through its challenges?
Our engagement was mostly grace-filled. We were in different states, however, five hours apart. We spent a lot of time on the phone, which was good for us in so many ways. When we’d see each other, though, it was tough not to be overwhelmed by our physical closeness. In striving to practice chastity, we tried to hold one another to a high standard and went to confession frequently.
One unexpected challenge of engagement was the necessary material preparations for marriage. We fought about everything. I thought Stephanie was materialistic. She thought I was an ascetic. I thought she was just tossing on everything in sight onto our wedding registry: tiny hand towels? Sure! More tiny hand towels in another shade? Sure! Sixteen champagne flutes as a future heirloom? What? It was awful. But we tried to persevere in communication and forgiveness.
To serve each other well in your wedding planning, I recommend being easy-going about the particulars. If something doesn’t fit your exact vision and is not a major question of morals or finances, let it slide. I’ve seen instances where one person’s ideals trample on the other’s opinions. Accepting one another’s choices for things like attire and flowers are a small way of sacrificing for your future spouse--accepting that his or her tastes aren’t identical to yours.
How do you handle disagreements and problem-solving with your spouse?
We try to hold hands or touch in some way while working out an argument. It calms us both down. We also try to give each other the benefit of the doubt. I once accused Stephanie of intentionally burning my scrambled eggs, for instance. It was pretty petty of me--it was also pretty ridiculous--and over time we’ve tried to apply the approach of trusting and assuming the other’s best intentions before making accusations.
What has surprised you most about married life?
How natural it felt. It just felt like the next step in our relationship. It was--and is--absolutely wonderful.
Andrew’s advice for Catholic grooms and husbands:
Do something kind--just one, tiny kind thing, even just saying, I love you--whenever you recognize the impulse to do something selfish or speak something unkind. It goes a long way to helping your mood and your relationship.
And forgive immediately, endlessly and unconditionally. You’ll both mess up, again and again and again, often making the exact same mistakes you just repented for. Forgive unconditionally.
To our brides, we hope you’ll share these words with your beloved. If there are particular insights or questions you’d like addressed in future posts like this one, and if the man in your life has his own wisdom to share, be sure to reach out on our social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org.