Jen considers what it means to love and honor each other in a marriage. Similar to the question of intent, but repeated for emphasis in the vows, couples are invited to continually love and honor each other all the days of their lives.
When Amanda asked for volunteers to write guest posts based on portions of the standard Catholic wedding vows, I thought that I’d just take whichever one nobody had taken yet and that (at the time) happened to be “love and honor”. I’ve been married for 12 years so this should be an easy subject, right?
It happens to be the part of my wedding vows that I’m the worst at following. I’ve got the “for richer or poorer” thing down perfectly, the “in sickness or in health” part is a cake walk, and “for better or for worse” is pretty standard stuff for us. Not to mention, what does “to love and honor” mean in the context of those vows anyway???
After at least a month of staring at a blank page whenever I attempted to write on the subject, I finally decided to do something geeky that Amanda would totally approve of: I plugged the words into the lexical tools over at The Unbound Bible and did a word study on them. After translating them into Koine Greek and Biblical Hebrew, looking up the words in a couple of my favorite lexicons and translating them into a couple of the other languages that I read using Google Translate, I came up with some better ways of expressing them: “to cherish and value”.
So what does it mean to “cherish” your spouse?
As I was praying and musing about this, one of my favorite passages of Scripture came to mind.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
–1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
Cherishing your spouse means being patient… even when they are doing something that irritates you. It means not grumping about the fact that you always get stuck cleaning the kitchen after they have a baking marathon or kvetching about how they are incapable of matching/folding socks correctly. (This never happens in our house. Nooooo…) It means me controlling my temper and making a conscious effort to hold my tongue when I have a critical word to speak. It means choosing to see the best in them and reflecting on the ways that they have changed you for the better. It means finding ways of loving your spouse according to their love language. In our household means that my husband CLEANS ALL THE THINGS (!!!!) for me and I come up with ways of spending time with him that work around the various schedules that are in play at any given time. For example, we have “date breakfast” instead of “date night” because we are both free on Friday mornings when our son Daniel is in school.
Love is definitely an emotion but it can also be a choice. Cherishing your spouse means that you choose to love them even at times when they are not being loveable. Fights happen and words are spoken that should not come out of either person’s mouth, especially when you happen to be as hot-headed as I am. It’s at times like that when I have to remind myself that “this too shall pass” and I’m in this for the long haul. It means I have to pray for the grace and strength necessary to forgive my husband and for him to forgive me.
What does it mean to “value” your spouse?
Valuing your spouse means listening to what they have to say and giving them the benefit of the doubt. It means hearing them out on a subject even when you have no intention of actually take their advice. It means telling them that you appreciate them on a regular basis and putting their needs above your own. In my marriage, this means that I praise my husband for getting our Daniel ready for school and packing his lunch so I can enjoy an extra 20 minutes of sleep. It also means that I make an effort to make an appearance at every church event that I can and attempt to be social even when my introverted self wants to hide in a corner.
Valuing your spouse also means that you take seriously your vow to cherish them in the toughest of times. In our marriage, we have dealt with everything from deaths of family members to Daniel being born very prematurely (the story is here). Daniel’s prematurity has led to developmental delays and autism which has really stretched both of us as we have had to learn how to work with him and how to work together to get the care he needs. Both of us have fought depression in the course of our marriage and we’ve faced uncertainity about my husband’s parish situation several times. The thing that keeps both of us going in all of this is the fact that we love each other and believe with all our hearts that our marriage is worth preserving.
All this is not to say that my husband is difficult to live with or that my marriage is an unhappy one. I am married to the one man who can put up with my mercurial self and who loves me despite almost every word out of my mouth being a snarky one. He values and cherishes me and I can’t imagine my life without him.
Jen is not entirely sure when she lost her mind but it is probably documented at ::Meditatio::. When she isn’t chasing her son Daniel, she reads way too much, sleeps way too little, crochets, searches for the perfect iced vanilla latté, and spends time with her family. She would like to thank her husband Jon for introducing her to the music of Cat Stevens, praying for her daily, and putting her happiness above his frequently.