I spent last weekend in San Jose, Negros Oriental, near Dumaguete City, as part of a team giving a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend. The three WWME priests in the Diocese of Dumaguete were all tied up with parish activities. It was a seven-hour bus journey from Bacolod. We were somewhat delayed by road works approaching Dumaguete.
Before Easter Jackie Parkes featured this item. She got it from Robert Colquhoun’s blog, Love Undefiled. Although there’s no reference to the sacrament of matrimony there’s a lot of wisdom in what Judith Wallerstein, an American psychologist and researcher, writes. The very first point clearly reflects Gen 2:24: Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
This text is put into the mouth of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and is also quoted by St Paul. I believe it’s one that needs to be constantly reflected on by couples and by priests, so that a married couple will always see their spousal relationship as their basic vocation from God. It’s only within that relationship that God calls them to be parents.
The Nine Tasks of Marriage (Judith Wallerstein).
1. To be in a marriage is to be a guardian of the other person's solitude.When a couple marries they find that, although they may not be aware of them, there is a series of sequential psychological tasks to address together. Achieving these tasks helps the couple to deal with the inevitable major changes - accidental or developmental - that will occur and that have the potential for weakening or re-enforcing the relationship throughout the marriage.The nine tasks of marriage are:1. To detach emotionally from the families of childhood, commit to the relationship, and build new connections with the extended families.
2. To build togetherness through intimacy and to expand the sense of self to include the other, while each individual carves out an area of autonomy. Identification with the other provides the basis for bonding but within the new unity, there must be room for autonomy; otherwise there is no true equality.
3. To expand the circle to include children, taking on the roles of parenthood from infancy to adulthood, while maintaining the emotional richness of the marriage and keeping a balance between raising the children and nurturing the couple's relationship.
4. To confront the inevitable developmental challenges and the unpredictable adversities of life, including illness, death, and natural disasters, in ways that enhance the relationship despite stress and suffering. Every crisis carries within it the seeds of destruction as well as the possibility of renewed strength.
5. To make the relationship safe for expressing difference, anger and conflict, all of which are inevitable in any marriage. All marriages involve love and anger, connectedness and disruption. The task is to find ways to resolve the differences without exploiting each other, being violent, or giving away one's heart's desire.
6. To establish an imaginative and pleasurable sex life. Creating a sexual relationship that meets the needs and fantasies of both people requires time and love and sensitivity. The stresses of work and family life, changes in sexual desire over time, mean that this aspect of the marriage requires special protection in order to flourish.
7. To share laughter and humour and to keep interests outside the marriage alive in the relationship. A good marriage is alternately playful and serious, sometimes flirtatious, sometimes difficult and cranky, but always full of life.
8. To provide the emotional nurturance and encouragement that all adults need throughout their lives, love, sympathy, restoration of battered self-esteem, especially in today's isolating urban communities and high-pressure workplaces, is hugely important to the relationship.
9. To sustain the innermost core of the relationship by holding on to the early idealisations while realising one is growing older, remembering the images and fantasies of courtship and early marriage and maintaining that joyful glow over a lifetime.
From The Good Marriage by Judith Wallerstein.