We invite our longtime married readers to share the experiences that have marked, refined, and anointed their marriages; months and years that, by grace, transform the mundane, the bitter, and the incomprehensible into the fruits of holy wisdom. A purification and a clear vision for the path to heaven that lies ahead. The Sophia Series.
My husband and I met providentially while hanging out with a mutual friend. We made a deep connection from the beginning, and I remember thinking that he brought out the best in me. I felt right at home. We got engaged after a courtship of over five years and have been married for the last 10 years.
On my wedding day, I remember a prayer after communion where I fully understood how much God loved my husband and how he uses instruments--especially those closest to us--to express that love. I understood that for my husband, I would be either a vessel or an obstacle to that love in the years to come. I prayed I would be the former.
The biggest obstacle to our marriage was discovered during our honeymoon. We had waited until that moment for physical intimacy. However, we were unable to have intercourse. Once we returned from our trip, I sought medical advice and after much research, I discovered I had issues with my pelvic floor muscles. Involuntary spasms have kept me, to this day, unable to consummate the marriage.
This has been a very big cross to bear and has created many moments of pain; however, it has also allowed the both of us great lessons and growth.
I am in awe at the fact that our marriage remains faithful after 10 years. Many times, couples have a harder time discerning whether to separate, based on factors such as children or the unlikely option of annulment. In our case neither of those factors exist, as our marriage is, to date, not physically consummated. It is beautiful to know it is our free will that keeps us in union and in constant yes for this sacrament.
I remember feeling inadequate, like a failure as a wife, due to my medical problem. I have learned self-love and self-compassion, which in turn allow me to be ever more loving and compassionate towards others.
Intimacy brings couples together at many levels, including physically, neurologically, emotionally, and spiritually. Since my husband and I do not have this great perk, we have learned to go from me to we in other ways. One of them is through each other’s love languages. His is acts of service, while mine is quality time. It is amazing how a concept so simple is so easily forgotten. Here is a recent example:
This past weekend was spent at home after my husband underwent a procedure requiring him to stay indoors for two days, which is unusual for us and for his sanguine temperament.
Imagine a total extrovert and a bit of a perfectionist trapped indoors during the weekend. We came to a moment where every area of the kitchen was in disarray. We had finished dinner and were in the middle of watching a movie. My husband paused the movie to feed our pet rabbit and in that moment, I thought it would be appropriate to come up with something to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
I pulled out a bottle of Irish cream and made some coffee. I could already taste the goodness. My cup and saucer were perfectly set next to a glass of Irish cream over ice, ready for the perfect Instagram Story.
As my husband came back downstairs, he began remarking on the dirty dishes, the stove splattered with olive oil, and groceries that needed to go in the pantry.
I could not believe he was ruining our ‘Irish’ little moment for this! I took offense and began feeling quite resentful. Remember that my love language is quality time--we were speaking it fluently until this moment of pause.
Things shifted to all the unfinished cleaning and suddenly, as I reluctantly washed dishes, I considered my husband's love language: acts of service.
Wasn't the dinner enough? Wasn't the glass of Irish cream over ice the cherry on top? Why couldn't we just continue watching the movie?
I realized I’d encountered a perfect opportunity to love. My resentment turned into determination to clean that kitchen and clean it well.
An hour went by and I could tell my husband felt guilty. He kept helping out and even started vacuuming in some random area of the house. He set the empty coffee cup on the table as if to signal it was waiting.
Part of me wanted to continue speaking his love language and serving. Yet my pride also kicked in, and I didn’t feel like jumping back into the movie and coffee. I could get over the interruption.
I considered the possibility of finishing the dishes and going upstairs to take a bath. My pride did not want to receive quality time after I was done with the effort of loving. I wanted to jump right into self-care--not the generous kind,but the kind that would give a clear message of how annoyed I still was, deep within.
As I moved on to cleaning the stove, my husband said it could wait. I was determined to finish and was reluctant to go back to that cup of coffee (I was still in full pride mode!).
My husband invited me to finish the movie. As much as my ego wanted me to run upstairs, I accepted. We had a good rest of the evening, and I knew that pause had been well spent.
The next morning, we attended a birthday brunch. We enjoyed time with friends, and afterward my husband made plans for us to spend the afternoon together. We went shopping, to the museum, walked around, ate hot dogs, and went to my favorite evening Mass, followed by a coffee shop.
My husband spoke so much of my own love language that weekend, and I can only say you can never outdo God in generosity.
I am not sure whether all these words would be enough to tell all the stories of our marriage. But I can say I have learned how to persevere through thick and thin and to focus on what matters, one day at a time. I have learned to be fully present to God, to myself, and my vocation.
I wish I could say there was a 'happily ever after' kind of ending to this story. The reality is that we continue to work with the big elephant in the room--our obstacles to intimacy--tackling it one bite at a time and never ceasing to gaze at the eternal.
Our vocation has gifted us with innumerable lessons and joys. I cannot wait to learn what other chapters God has in store for us!
In the past, I remember praying for a holy family. One year into my marriage, while looking at an image of the Holy Family, I realized that they do not represent the husband, the wife and their child. Mary, Joseph and Jesus represented the husband and wife, with Christ at the center. I realized at that moment, this is the one thing we need for a holy family.
We have many images from our wedding day; however, one of my favorites is the one where we are having a pillow fight. Our reception was at a hotel, with our suite nearby, so our photographer suggested an impromptu series in there. When I look at these photos, I cannot help but wonder at how the bedroom happens to be the place where our biggest struggle would take place. Just like that friendly pillow fight, we keep fighting in unison each day: to do God’s will and learn the art of love and communion ever more perfectly.
Marisol’s words of wisdom for brides:
Make room for the unimaginable. Each marriage holds a unique story. Let the Master author write the greatest lines.
Keep Christ at the center.
Marriage is the only sacrament not imparted by a priest. Husband and wife say yes to one another on their wedding day, and they hold the power to say that same yes to one another on a daily basis.
About the Author: Marisol has a great love for art and humanities. You may find her designing and styling, or gaining inspiration from books, art, friends and family, or a random conversation with a homeless human in the streets. She is passionate about the art of living in the present moment and of finding beauty in every circumstance. Her additional writing can be found at The Maritus Project and Beauty Found.