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Catholic Spiritual Direction

How Do the Two Become One?

February 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Marriage Spirituality, The Alexanders

Editor’s Note:  Today, we are pleased to introduce Greg and Julie Alexander.  Greg and Julie are Alexander_Greg-and-Julie2co-founders and co-directors of The Alexander House Apostolate, a Catholic, lay apostolate – based in San Antonio – dedicated to proclaiming the beauty, goodness and truth of God’s plan for marriage.  They’ve helped thousands of couples heal and restore their marriage relationships, and have presented numerous workshops, seminars and talks throughout the country. As speakers, Greg and Julie combine Church teaching with their own marriage and family experience to present practical, energizing marriage enrichment and formation opportunities to both individuals and couples. Their personal story–and breakthrough work in marriage—is chronicled in their new book “Marriage 911: How God Saved Our Marriage (and He Can Save Yours, Too)” published by Servant Books. They’ve been profiled in many prominent Catholic books and publications, and have co-hosted shows on EWTN as well as their own radio show “Made for Each Other” which airs on the Guadalupe Radio Network. Married for 25 years, Julie and Greg are the parents of seven beautiful children and have two grandsons.  We are very blessed they have joined our writing team.  Please welcome them warmly to our site.

 

How do two become one…exactly?

“…And the two will become one flesh…” – Mark 10:8

And the two shall become one – Really?

How is it possible that two different people with totally separate upbringings, opposite temperaments, and opposing personalities can come together to live under one roof in peace and harmony until death do them part?

By participating and cooperating with the grace that flows from the Sacrament of Marriage. God created marriage as a sign of His love for us here on earth and to point us to the infinite bliss of the next life, and it’s only in keeping this perspective continually in mind will couples discover the joy that they’re seeking.

My husband and I have built genuine intimacy, and let me tell you, it’s amazing! It’s only been made possible by both of us opening our lives to God’s plan and His grace. Real intimacy is that of knowing the other and being known through and through, and this brings deep, abiding peace.

Sadly, this was not always the case. For many years, we were lost. We were looking for something to fill a void that only God can fill. In our blindness, we turned to ways that were sinful and not of God. Doing so, we unknowingly opened ourselves and our marriage to destruction. And once Satan had entered in, he began to set up shop stealing, killing, and destroying (cf John 10:10) the great plan God had for us from the beginning. Our passions became disordered and we were left feeling empty and alone in the same bed.

Although in our core desires we were seeking real intimacy, we pursued those in ways that violated our marital vows. Because we had closed ourselves to grace, we became open prey to lust, and our weaknesses nearly destroyed our relationship. We were not making God our central focus, and being lured by false passions, we unknowingly sacrificed our dignity for a moment of false recognition and counterfeit love. We were making choices that were causing chaos in our home. We came to realize we had no sense of spirituality, and without the right guide or focus, our intimacy would remain empty and our marriage a shell of what it was supposed to be.

Yet God would not let the evil one have the last word. Although we had hit rock bottom, God called out through the darkness, offering us a choice: We could either remain in our brokenness and misery, or turn back to His ways, letting Him lead us in every aspect of our lives. Inspired by the Holy Spirit and genuine repentance, Greg began to place his relationship with God first, and instantly was filled with the grace needed to become the spiritual leader in our home. His openness touched my heart and a beautiful transformation slowly began to take place. When I experienced him going to God for what he needed, I felt the security as a woman I unknowingly longed for. I began to trust him to lead me in the direction we were made for.

Together, we studied God’s plan for marriage, and doing so, we began to turn our hearts to God. We experienced in our souls the great joy and beauty of what God intended for our marriage. Instead of feeling used by my husband, I began to experience what every woman desires: to be cherished. Instead of wondering if I would be noticed, I became confident in his love for me, due to the fact that God was being placed in the center of our relationship.

Although it has taken years, and we’re still learning to surrender our wills to the Will of Love, our world has been turned right side up!

We know now that our prayer and sacramental life must be at the center if we’re going to continue to grow in intimacy with one another. We’ve learned to be aware of the deep spiritual core within each of us, that we’re made for a love that does not have its origin on earth. Sharing our hearts with one another has given us a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals, made in the image of God, and this has enabled us to look at our differences as strengths.

I am fulfilled in hearing my husband pour out his heart to God, asking Him to cover all our family in prayer. By the power of prayer, he has been transformed, and respects all of me, from my body to my soul, and this has made a world of difference. Doing so, he’s come to realize his potential as the protector and the leader of my soul that was entrusted to him at the altar after we professed our “I Do’s.”

It’s important for all couples to realize that at the altar, they need to commit to the understanding that the gift God gives them comes as a complete package, and they must learn to love the person as they really are, not what we hope they will be. The gift that is given is a person, a body and soul that is one, and when viewed with the eyes of God, we should see the beautiful masterpiece that is only to be nurtured and cherished, never to be used or discarded.

Our total selves — mind, body, and soul — are to be offered as a living sacrifice to God and He has entrusted us with the gift of the other to love as He loves. This is to be lived out in every moment as an expression of Christ’s love for us, where He did not have his life taken from him but laid it down freely and held nothing back, giving his all, even unto death on a cross. Out of obedience to the Father, He stayed true to the mission God had for His life and He died so we would have life, a life that would be very fruitful and would lead countless others back to Himself.

This is why understanding God’s plan for marriage is so crucial, for it affects every part of a husband and wife’s relationship. And when we seek to emulate the love of Christ for His Church in our homes we will find great peace and joy, that which the world can never give. It’s in living self-sacrificial lives of service, allowing God to guide our thoughts, words, and actions that couples will attain the intimacy they’re seeking and truly become one flesh.

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About Greg and Julie Alexander

Greg and Julie Alexander are co-founders and co-directors of The Alexander House Apostolate, a Catholic, lay apostolate – based in San Antonio - dedicated to proclaiming the beauty, goodness and truth of God’s plan for marriage. Their latest efforts focus on establishing and supporting the "Covenant of Love" marriage ministry within parishes. Currently this ministry flourishes in over 70 U.S. parishes and several parishes across the world. Their DATE NIGHT component has provided the education and fellowship that couples need to strengthen their relationships. As part of their ministry Greg and Julie have helped thousands of couples heal and restore their marriage relationships through a Christ-centered program based on the Christian Marriage CoachingTM process they developed, now they are looking to train mentor couples as Marriage DisciplesTM to help the many couples that call seeking assistance. The Alexanders have presented numerous workshops, seminars and talks to thousands of participants throughout the country. As speakers, they combine Church teaching with their own marriage and family experience to present practical, energizing marriage enrichment and formation opportunities to both individuals and couples. Their personal story--and breakthrough work in marriage—is chronicled in their new book Marriage 911: How God Saved Our Marriage (and He Can Save Yours, Too), published by Servant Books. They have been profiled in many prominent Catholic books and publications, and have co-hosted 2 shows on EWTN with a 3rd airing this fall. They are also 6 months into hosting their own radio show called “Made for Each Other” which airs on the Guadalupe Radio Network every Wed. @ 11 a.m. CT. Married for 25 years, Greg and Julie are the parents of seven beautiful children and have two grandsons.

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  • Camila

    Welcome Julie and Greg Alexander!

    I have a question for you. In your book towards the end you present 3 questions that every couple “must answer when they work with” you (pg.124).

    The first question is “Is this marriage relationship something you want, and is it something you’re willing to work on, and will you do the things we prescribe for you to do?” (pg. 124).

    What if one of the spouses says “no” to this answer. What do you recommend?

    Thanks!

    • gregnjulie

      Camila, of course, our desire is for both spouses to respond yes to all of the questions. However, if either spouse says no to questions 1 and 2 we can still work toward strengthening their marriage. There is no option for question 3; it has to be “YES” in order to extend the invitation for God to come into their lives, and the marriage, to give His grace. We learn from scripture, “… without me you can do nothing.” (cf John 15:5)

      • Camila

        Thanks for the clarification because the followup text after the question says “if both husband and wife don’t say yes, then we don’t work with them. We tell them it would be a waste of our time and their time if they’re not serious in going through this.” (pg 124)

        When I read this my heart sank.

        • Gina

          Yes it is true in that unless both couples are willing and give their yes, it is a waste of time, time that would be worthily spent on couples who both (or either one) say yes. So we intercede and pray for the couple who are not yet ready and plus God never leaves them, patiently waits for their commitment to Him. Let your heart not sink rather pray for those couples to turn their hearts over to our loving Saviour and to each other.

        • Gina

          Yes it is

  • Camila

    Also, Julie, in the book you say “I think I underestimated how much the vasectomy was bothering Greg, now that he knew the Church’s teaching about sterilization, and how much he wanted to have it reversed.” (pg. 99)

    I was absolutely stunned when I read this. The theology here is complex and unclear. Why did Greg feel the need to reverse the vasectomy?

    • gregnjulie

      Camila, once I came to understand what God intended for me in my life, and my marriage, in this area my only desire was to be restored back to the way in which He created me. Nothing complex here just a desire to be “whole” again.

      • Camila

        You are amazing. I remember reading that you guys had another child after the reversal, right?

        Greg, I also remember how you were the one seeking the truth with courage and perseverance. Julie’s conversion happened afterward and a lot of it hinged in your committed and courageous seeking of truth.

        You were like the wise man Solomon talks about “give an occasion to a wise man, and wisdom shall be added to him. Teach a just man, and he shall make haste to receive it.” (Proverbs 9:9)

        While your witness is beautiful and cause immense joy in me; I’m afraid it is not so easily repeatable. It takes two to tango. (correction) It takes three to tango.

        • gregnjulie

          Camila, you give me too much credit. Of course, it is repeatable! This is why we share our story, to demonstrate the fact that no matter how far we fall from God and His desires for us we can be REDEEMED. You’ve read the book. Ah but yes, it does take three and know that God is totally committed to your marriage. Now it is up to the two of you. By the way, we’ve had 5 kids post-reversal.

    • RobinJeanne

      For me after discovering the Lord and learning church teaching on contriception, I wanted to reverse my tuballigation. I could see my sin and wanted to repair it, reparation. I just didn’t have the money to do it so I gave myself to the Lord as spiritual mother in how ever He saw fit…. He made me a teacher… I was sceptical at first, but i love it.

      • gregnjulie

        RobinJeanne, praise God for accepting the call and serving as a teacher. Do know, that if you, and anyone reading this who finds him/herself in a similar situation, have confessed this sin you have satisfied what the Church requires of you. You are back in the state of sanctifying grace and a reversal is not warranted. This is something that I prayerfully discerned for myself.

        • Camila

          Yes, what you say is correct. The sin is forgiven, completely. That is not where the problem is. The problem is in the next act. How do you clear the will from repeated act of contraception while sterilized.

          http://www.nfpandmore.org/The%20Repentant%20Sterilized%20Couple.pdf

          • RobinJeanne

            I hear a couple can set aside a 10day period(like it would be if they were procticing NFP) and offer it to the Lord and that it helps the couple to pactice selfcontrol and not just aimlessly following the desires of the flesh…. it’s not commanded just a recomendation, good for the couple’s spirituality.

          • Camila

            Dear RobinJeanne,

            May God bless your heart.

            This is a very difficult question to answer, and that I believe can only be lived sustained by 3 pillars, the Eucharist, Confession and Spiritual Direction.

        • RobinJeanne

          Yes, I reconciled with God and the Church many, many years ago. If I had, had the money to reverse it, it would be to put things back the way God disigned me to be. It would be a personal choice, not a have to.

  • DianeVa

    Welcome Julie and Greg! Wow, what a blessing to have you both sharing your wisdom and spirituality on the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. I have read your book and shared it with others, it is powerful. Your book should be required reading in all marriage prep programs. Thanks for this beautiful post it is clear and critical to understand as Christians. I only wish I knew this when I was a young teen as you share also in your book. I believe growing up “Catholic in name only ” makes God weep, but when humbled and reconciled to God and his Church it brings glory and power. Thank you for evangelizing the culture.

    • gregnjulie

      DianeVa, we are thankful and humbled by your kind words. This is precisely what the New Evangelization is all about, evangelizing to those who already profess to be Catholic. We are blessed that God chose two simple people to be a part of building His kingdom in regards to marriage.

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  • judeen

    marraige.. , in the sacrament… we are joined.. to all the person and with God.. a vow for life… before the sacrament.. mom looked at me… and said.. think of the worst thing He could do… now do you love him enough to forgive him.. if you do not … do not marry him… wisdom… so much wisdom…
    also she said . look at his parents… this is what he will most be like.. if you do not like them… dont marry him… wisdom.
    we marry the person we know and who we dont know.. all the kindness and all the faults… it is the whole package… loving them as Jesus loves us.. totally.. who we are..
    the fights are ussually about old wounds and ours or theirs and also our fears.. to let go.. and trust God . for in marraige we help each other to heaven…

    • Aimliz

      That is great wisdom. I’m going to have to remember that for my children. A friend of mine told me once, that her dad said to her fiancé now husband, “that want you see is what you get, there are no returns.” Kind of funny, but he was serious and said this to his face. I think they have been married 20 years now. I’m sure he never forgot this…. Nor did she :)

      • judeen

        things that are said before the marraige.. is so important… to forgive.. and dont share your fights with me.. I do not love him like you do… mom also said this.. and I said it to my kids… parents and others.. can get into the middle of things.. and make it worse… or destroy the marraige… alot of the times I wished they get a divorce… it is hard to hold the tongue… but one has to… be positive.. encourage reponsiblity , respect, helpfulness. so on to the couple.. one is always a parent.. and we should keep encouraging our kids in good morals.. but when they leave.. we just can sugest , and then drop it… and pray alot

    • gregnjulie

      I love this Judeen! Thanks for sharing.

    • RobinJeanne

      I have hear the first part about what’s the worst thing they could do, would you forgive them….. but not the part about the parents, I wish I had know that. My husband is much like his mom, bitter, angry, grudge holding…. sadling he is the same. When two people are dating you see the best side of them thought I believe that is the true person God made them to be but the hurts and wounds of like cover over the good God made. So after marriage the woundedness is going to appear especially if they have never dealt with them.
      The Lord has blessed me with the gift of forgiveness and I think, brought my husband and I together so that he could learn this from me and he has, and that I’m was given the gift of time…. he has allowed me to be able to study, serve and be with the Lord, suporting me in my spiritual journey.

      • judeen

        hi, the bitterness and so on… that your husband learned growing up… left great wounds from his child hood… in him… and this is what makes it go on… God put you together for you to share what love really is… my husband has faults too.. but He taught me love… gentleness, and so many good things… as I also helped him in things.. God puts people together who are not alike.. alot of the times to bless them both.. to become better ,
        ask your self what your husband taught you in this marraige…
        and yes forgiveness is a powerful gift from God.. and has to be in a marraige.. I needed to learn to let it go… not to bring it up… so on..too.. we just become better after the years…

        • RobinJeanne

          That is a hard question… what have I learned from him…. I’ll have to keep pondering it. I really hope I think of something.

  • Aimliz

    Greg and Julie it is SO awesome that you have joined the team on RCSD. Here in Denver, I have family who have taken part in your apostolate. (I believe the name has changed but the way of counsel remains the same.) Your story is so wonderful to know as it shows that anything is possible with God. I have shared it with loved ones whenever the need has come up and referred them all to the Alexander House. I know of one well deserving couple who was helped greatly by your God inspired counsel. Anyway, praise God that you do what you do. I pray that He will lead more couples to you and those in your apostolate who are in need of help. May God continue to bless you and keep you close to Him. I liked your post as well, I look forward to more of them :)

    • gregnjulie

      Thank you Aimliz for your beautiful comments. Yes, we changed the name of our work with couple to Marriage Disciples. According to John 8:31-32, Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him,* “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” So, our Marriage Disciples, as we are training other couples to serve in this capacity, are those who remain and lives his truth for marriage and shares that truth with others. I must also add that it is Christ that is in us that does this great work; we are His instruments. Blessings my friend!

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  • shs-dbti

    Very good. Thank you.
    Two questions…
    1. Will Greg also write on this subject?
    2. You write “…learn to love the person as they really are, not what we hope they will be.” Please define “love.”
    Thank you and God bless you.

  • http://Pameladoiron.com/ Pamela Renée Doiron

    Greg and Julie, I am so thrilled you have joined the team and what a beautiful family you have! What an inspirational story of God’s transformative power within the bonds of marriage. You give your reader a great gift in exposing your vulnerabilities and struggles. For me, you are the living example of the words “With God, all things are possible.” More couples need to hear this and turn their eyes (and hearts) to Him. My parents were married in the Catholic Church (and apparently I was conceived in San Antonio ;-) but I didn’t receive the sacrament because my husband is Protestant and I was a lukewarm catholic back then. However, I now see just how MUCH God wants to transform the world through marriage and family. You are doing that. Pope Francis would be so pleased… Thank you for your ministry and God bless you!

  • Lisa S

    I have a hard time agreeing with the premise in general that we are supposed to want and strive for “happiness” in marriage. We, as Catholics, are to accept and embrace suffering in our lives in whatever form that takes. We are called to pick up that cross, which for many of us is our marriages, and carry it to the finish line. Now, if we are really living the Christian life, we will drop our expectations and desires, and in charity our accept spouses right where they are … with all the weaknesses and faults that they have. Sure, this can work sometimes to bring the other person around to being interested and involved in having a peaceful marriage. But the key is to not expect or even hope for it. .We have to be willing and able to live without that emotional intimacy if it doesn’t happen. And really, I personally don’t think we should even want that.

    I think there is too much emphasis on wanting to be completely understood and melded to one’s spouse. Couples in the past had minimal expectations: the men were to provide food, clothing and shelter and the women were to keep house and have and raise children. No talk about sharing, communicating or even defining “being one” as in being intertwined emotionally. The being one aspect was, I believe, to be taken a bit more literally … physically joined in the conjugal union designed to bring forth new life according to God’s will.

    So many saints were married to “difficult” people and that blessed Purgatory on earth was what refined them and sanctified them. They didn’t have “date nights” or soul to soul communications. Many times their spouses weren’t even Catholic, and that caused a lot of difficulty for the believing spouse and they had to bear that and offer it up. Leaving was never an option.

    We’re called to put our faith hope and trust in Jesus, not another fallen human being.

    • Jeanette

      I believe that God WANTS us to be happy in our marriages. And for that matter, happy in our lives, if at all possible.

    • gregnjulie

      My dear Lisa, I understand that because of our humanness this can be the case. Not because of your own doing but from others failing to live and demonstrate the love of God in marriage. In John 10:10 we learn that Christ came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Abundant life and unhappiness are incongruent. God does want us to be happy and when we are not it is typically the result of us not doing what we should. Our understanding of marriage through the years have evolved and thanks be to God for the gift of, soon to be, St. John Paul the Great who through many of his teachings has given us the understanding of how to experience joy in our marriages.

      • Camila

        “Abundant life and unhappiness are incongruent”

        So how do you explain the paradox of Mary’s pierced heart?
        (or) The crucified Jesus?

        • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

          So do you believe that someone cannot feel sorrow and joy at the same time? Do you believe that joy can triumph over and within even the greatest of sufferings?

          • Camila

            Sorry for the confusion. It is not I who does not believe that someone cannot feel sorrow and joy at the same time. I quoted Greg when I noted “Abundant life and unhappiness are incongruent.”

            In other words, my questions about our Lady and our Lord and the paradox of their suffering and abundant life are examples of this reality. The Sacred Heart is surrounded by thorns, our Lady’s Immaculate Heart is pierced with swords.

            That was my point Dan. That to be a follower of Christ the reality is an admixture of joy and suffering. While it is true the virtuous soul can call herself ‘happy’ (i.e. the post referenced by St. Alphonsus) it is not the ‘happy’ promoted by modern ideas. It is a happiness that is found in the joy, peace and serenity found within God alone and more precisely within the soul who suffers lovingly with and for Him.

            It is in dying that we rise to life. It is in denying ourselves that we gain ourselves. It is loosing our life that we will gain it. It is in surrendering our wills that God gives us His. And plants deep within the suffering soul a love and joy that this world can never understand. A peace, a tenderness that can not be removed and is safeguarded by God.

            The soul who follows her God will be crucified. This does not mean a less abundant life, but just the opposite. It might look so in the order of nature, but not so in the order of grace.

            It was from the folly of Christ’s cross, his apparent defeat, the suffering lamb that abundant grace sprung forth so that all humanity might be dignified and invited to join Him in this fountain of fountain, spring of all spring, abundance of all abundance, the cross.

            Does this make any sense?

          • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            Perfecto

    • lcnorthon

      There’s no question that many marriages have in fact turned out like the above description, but you seem to present that as the ideal–or at least you portray a loving marriage as a ridiculous and unattainable fantasy–which I find very troubling. Yes, a loveless marriage can often happen–but you cannot make a case from Scripture or Tradition that this is what God wants marriage to be. St. Paul did say “husbands, love your wives,” but the husband in the above scenario seems to see his wife as a housekeeping and childbearing servant. This isn’t love. We are also told by the Magisterium that marriage is to serve as a sign and example of Christ’s love for his Church–and really, a foretaste of heaven. Is heaven to be a place where there is “no talk about sharing, communicating or even defining ‘being one’ as being intertwined emotionally” between the soul and God? Heaven must be a very grim place if it is to be like the marriages you’ve described!

      • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

        Well said

        Sent from my iPad

        • Camila

          Dear Dan and Icnorthon,

          While God desires our happiness the modern mind needs a few adjustments as to what exactly that happiness is and how it is lived.

          Here’s what St. Alphonsus has to say:

          “I answer, that there are some who sanctify themselves in the world by suffering a continual martyrdom, by bearing, for God’s sake, all crosses and troubles with patience and cheerfulness, and by peacefully and lovingly offering themselves in all things to God. There are some who attain this high degree of perfection: but they are as rare as white flies. And you will find that such holy souls are always employed in works of penance, and that they continually aspire after the sanctity and disengagement of those who have consecrated their virginity to Jesus Christ, devoted their lives to the glory of God, and have embraced a state of constant happiness. The state, then, of virgins consecrated to Jesus Christ, and who are entirely devoted to his divine love, is of all states the most happy and sublime. They are free from the dangers to which married persons are necessarily exposed….”

          Surely you wouldn’t say St. Alphonsus is outdated would you?

          • Lisa S

            Thank you Camila. You said it far better than I did. We are called to pick up our Crosses and emulate Christ Crucified. While it would be nice if our spouses fulfilled us and understood us .. we are not called to expect such things from each other. I think there is a St. Teresa of Avila list of humility and one requests is to have the desire to be understood removed … It’s just one example of many that people today expect from their spouses. Sometimes, spouses don’t agree, sometimes their perspectives are completely different. Sometimes it’s really hard to respect a spouse due to their behavior. How does one love when one does not like? How does one maintain an intimate relationship with a spouse they don’t feel a connection with? It would make it easier to have these things …. but it’s not required for us to behave the way we’re supposed to….

          • Camila

            Dear Lisa,

            I have found these two prayers to be profitable in my walk with Christ.

            St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity
            **********
            Lord, teach me to be generous.
            Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
            to give and not count the cost,
            to fight and not heed the wounds,
            to toil and not to seek for rest,
            to labor and not to ask for reward,
            save that of knowing that I do your will.

            Suscipe
            ***********
            Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
            my memory,
            my understanding, and my entire will.
            All I have and call my own.
            Whatever I have or hold,
            you have given me.
            I return it all to you and surrender it wholly
            to be governed by your will.
            Give me only your love and your grace
            and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.

            May God bless you Lisa.

          • lcnorthon

            “…We are not called to expect such things from each other.” I wasn’t talking about expecting anything “from” the other person. I was talking about what you give TO them–and if the spouse is a person of God, they should be thinking the same thing. “How does one love when one does not like?” You make it an act of the will, not of sentiment. You make a decision and stick to it. “How does one maintain an intimate relationship with a spouse they don’t feel a connection with?” I guess you’ve got me there, since I’ve never been married myself. I would be curious to know whether such a connection ever existed in the first place–or whether the spouse underwent a change during the marriage. I would think that the “connection” and the bond of “like” as well as “love” would have been forged during the courtship–at least that is what the courtship is for. That’s why we don’t have arranged marriages. If such bonds were NOT created during courtship, I suppose I’d wonder why you went ahead and married him anyway. If they WERE, then I’d ask whether there is any way to rediscover and recapture what used to be. By all means, you should have a heart-to-heart talk with your husband–in the presence of a trained counselor, if you don’t feel it would work with just the two of you.

          • lcnorthon

            I’m sure that the state of consecrated virginity, at least when lived with the proper dispositions, is everything that St. Alphonsus says it is. But even the Lord Himself said that the state of permanent virginity (he referred to it as being a “eunuch” for the sake of the kingdom) is not for everyone, but only for those who are called. And we are speaking about marriage here, to which the vast majority of us are called. Even an ideal marriage is full of sacrifice, crosses and troubles. A loving marriage is certainly not a painless marriage–in fact it is because too many people aspire to a painless marriage that there is so much divorce and adultery. But when Lisa says, “Couples in the past had minimal expectations: the men were to provide
            food, clothing and shelter and the women were to keep house and have and
            raise children. No talk about sharing, communicating or even defining ‘being one’ as in being intertwined emotionally…They didn’t have ‘date nights’ or soul to soul communications,” it sounds like she’s advocating just such an emotionally sterile business partnership as the ideal, and even condemning couples who want to be close friends as well as spouses. In Lisa’s description, the spouses don’t seem to even LIKE each other, let alone love. But if you seek emotional distance in your marriage, instead of closeness, are you not sparing yourself some of those crosses and troubles of which you speak? Are you not possibly lightening your own load, instead of cheerfully taking on those crosses? Is it not an act of generosity to sit and listen to your spouse’s emotional pain–and to console them? Is this not a cross that can be cheerfully born and offered? Emotional aloofness is a form of selfishness in and of itself–a holding back from a total giving of oneself. The supreme irony is that Lisa seems to see the giving of one’s body but NOT one’s soul in marriage as fitting and appropriate. I must say that it strikes me as a lie, and I believe there’s ample proof that God sees it the same way.

          • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            Very well said

          • lcnorthon

            Thank you very much.

          • Camila

            Hi Icnorthon, do you have an email I can contact you in?

          • lcnorthon

            Yes–but I’m not sure I want to post it publicly here. Let me know if there is a more private way.

          • Camila

            sure, send an email to
            cmalta@myavila.com

          • Camila

            Icnorthon,
            I agree with everything you said.

            When I speak of suffering I am not saying be aloof, by any means at all. Just the opposite, it is an embrace of it (physical, emotional and spiritual).

            Whoever you are, I agree with what and how you said the above.

          • Camila

            Dear Icnorthon,

            Your understanding of suffering and marriage is refreshing. Have you considered joining the Avila Institute? I believe you can make great contributions to the discussions.

            Kindly,
            Camila

          • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

            Good instincts Camila ­ I agree.

  • Kay L.

    Many thanks for sharing this information on a catholic marriage. May God bless you in this ministry.

  • LizEst

    Welcome to our writing team, Greg and Julie! We are so blessed by your presence among us. God bless you!

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  • Diana Marie Winkler

    As I was reading the first part, I thought, they are telling my story! Like Greg and Julie my husband’s and my marriage veered off the road. It was so gradual that we did not realize what happened until we too, found ourselves lost. The years wandering were very lonely times. Once I got in the Word, I realized I could not find a new path without the guidance of the Lord. My husband was not as receptive in the beginning as he was still dealing with the pain and hurt. But, he watched me grow and to toss aside old ways. He then decided it was best if we walked back to the Lord together. How thankful I am we were able to have the happiness and blessings the Lord wanted for us. As I sat by his hospital bed and watched cancer take him from me I was able to still rejoice that he was not lying there alone. As in life we were together and in his death we were together. I thank the Lord for that gift. Wonderful apostolate Greg and Julie. Keep encouraging!

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