Editor’s Note: Today, we are pleased to introduce Greg and Julie Alexander. Greg and Julie 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. 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.
Art for this post on how the two become one: Greg and Julie Alexander’s picture, courtesy of the Alexanders. Ehe, aus einer Serie der sieben Sakramente: Federzeichnung (Marriage, From a Series on the Seven Sacraments: pencil drawing), 1779, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; Marriage cross Christian Symbol, AnonMoos, 26 October 2010, PD-Worldwide; both Wikimedia Commons.