The following is a guest post by Karee Santos, author of the book The Four Keys to Everlasting Love. Karee and her co-author husband, Manuel, have worked extensively in various venues spreading the good news about love and marriage to Catholics. Many of her other writings can be found at the National Catholic Register, Faith & Family Digest magazine, CatholicLane.com, AmazingCatechists.com, and Aleteia.org. You can follow more of their great work supporting and uplifting Catholic marriages at their blog, Can We Cana?. Enjoy her simple yet profound advice to finding everlasting love in a marriage (and keeping it!)
HOW TO FIND EVERLASTING LOVE (AND KEEP IT!) by Karee Santos
When I met my husband-to-be Manny at a private party in Brooklyn, I thought he was a stalker. Our first conversation went something like this.
Manny: “We’ve met before. Two years ago. Crossing the street.”
Me (with narrowed eyes): “No. We didn’t. I don’t remember you. At all.”
Manny (displaying true genius): “You’re absolutely right.”
Then he went on to reveal that he was a doctor who spoke Spanish fluently, read Russian literature for fun, loved his parents, went to church every Sunday, and played a mean game of pool. Take all that, add some inky-black hair, ears as pointy as a Vulcan’s (or elf’s, if you prefer), and I soon became his for life.
Our first year of marriage hit us like a ton of bricks, tho. I was misdiagnosed with infertility then told I was pregnant. My grandfather died at around the same time that doctors found my husband’s first brain tumor. So we learned how to struggle, how to suffer, and how to keep holding on to each other.
Now, after 16 years of marriage, 6 kids, 4 brain tumors, and 1 marriage advice book, we’d like to share with you some lessons we’ve learned.
Be Faithful & Forgiving
What makes marriage last between two imperfect people? Forgiveness. Wives, if your husband is forgetful, inattentive, demanding, or selfish, forgive him. Husbands, if your wife is cranky, pushy, critical, or ungrateful, forgive her. Say, “You hurt me, but I forgive you.” If it happens again, say it again.
If you do or say something you regret, go to confession. If you let old hurts fester and turn into anger, resentment, or bitterness, go to confession. Give everything to Our Lord, and ask him to take it away. Then start fresh. Begin again.
Keep talking. If you lose your temper and start shouting, calm yourself down and try again. If one of you refuses to explain or talk about something, wait a few days and try again. If no one will listen to you but Our Lord, pour your troubles into his ear in prayer as often as it takes and as many times as it takes. He will reward you for your faithfulness.
Great marriages come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t force yours into a mold when you don’t have to. If you want a marriage like what your parents have, you can follow their example. If their example doesn’t work for you, forge your own path.
Husbands, feel free to take a day off for the school play or a week off for a family vacation. Your employer doesn’t own you. Wives, work in an office if you want or stay at home if you want. Choose whatever is best for your family – and only you and your husband know the answer to that.
Don’t live beyond your means. Don’t buy what you can’t afford. Then you’ll be free from financial anxiety. And you’ll have enough to help those who need help and to serve the underserved.
Be generous in the bedroom. Sex is a gift from God. Enjoy it!
Embrace your fertility, too, because it’s also a gift from God. Recognize that fruitfulness looks different for every family. Some couples have 10 kids, and some have only 2. Don’t judge their reasons.
Learn why the Church opposes abortion and artificial contraception. Learn why it supports Natural Family Planning. Be open to adoption and foster care. These children need someone to show them God’s love. Maybe they need you.
Be Prayerful & Giving
Most of all, let God into your marriage! He is the perfect person we’ve all been waiting for. He knows what we need and what will bring us joy.
It’s scary to give all of yourself without holding anything back. It’s hard to commit to a future in which anything can happen. It takes faith, it takes trust, and it takes prayer.
Especially if things aren’t going well this week, this month, or this year, just continue saying, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Ask him to show you his will.
If crisis strikes your family, don’t just ask “what would Jesus do?” Ask “what would the Holy Family do?” Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lived through their share of crises, and God always carried them through. Keep them close to your heart and they will show you how to find everlasting love and keep it.