Just this week I celebrated the seventh anniversary of my marriage to my incredible wife Stephanie. Not according to our plan, but God’s, we were married on 07/07 of 2007. So, with all these sevens I thought it appropriate to reflect back on a marriage that is as near to perfect as I think is possible. Here are seven reasons I propose my wife as the best wife in the known universe:
She always says YES to prayer: Having experienced a broken marriage and knowing the extraordinary pain of being “unequally yoked,” it is particularly striking to have a wife that instead of fighting against faith, always encourages it. I was single when I converted to Catholicism (I met Stephanie a number of months after my conversion), and briefly considered the priesthood. Once I determined that I was called to be married, I pulled up an extra chair to my home altar and placed a sign on it that said “reserved.” It was clear to me that I must pray for and have a wife who was completely committed to Christ and thus would gladly fill that chair beside me. Stephanie and I have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours together since before we were married and have never stopped. No matter what form my inclination toward my faith has taken, she is always there and sometimes ahead of me in our pursuit of God in and through our marriage. I believe that this most intimate act of being vulnerable to prayer together has laid a foundation that has mitigated many of the challenging aspects of our sin and selfishness and allowed all of the other positive aspects of our marriage to flourish.
She always says YES to God: As far as I can tell, her life is a constant YES to God. No, she is not perfect and neither am I. However, when husband and wife are both committed to this orientation of soul, both tend to consistently become more and more like Christ. As He manifests through each, the best of both souls shine forth and thus love and respect can do nothing less than flourish between them. Stephanie is a good and holy woman that always strives to know and love God and others. Thus, she is beautiful in a way that is complementary to but also surpasses her natural beauty. I am grateful to be Catholic and even more so because I have the great privilege of sharing this amazing faith in Christ and His Church with her.
She is a strong woman: Stephanie is an intelligent, strong-willed, and resilient woman. Her conviction about her faith and her willingness to give herself fully to God is more than admirable. I love to listen to her when she expresses her most deeply held convictions because the transformational work of God radiates through her and deeply impacts those around her (often to her surprise which is also a delight to watch). She is forthright, clear, and unyielding in her commitments about the most important things in life, but at the same time, she is not controlling or imposing. She has a true holy strength which knows when to lead, when to follow, and when to kneel or yield. She does all of these things with a beauty and grace that I have never seen in another person.
She is ok with the fact that I am a man: She understands that men are often wrongly treated as misbehaving women. She appreciates that men are different and what it means for men to be men. She allows me to live as a man without expecting me to, in any way, behave like a woman. This makes me much more comfortable in my own skin and results in decreased stress from pressure to be something that I was never designed by God to be in the first place.
She is self-sacrificing: There is a kind of false self-giving that is a demand in disguise and carries an often subtle expectation of getting something in return. Stephanie is constantly giving herself to me, to our children, to God, to her school in a way that is extraordinary and seems to have no expectation of reciprocation. She doesn’t do it in a way that is a kind of false-holiness or a false-martyrdom that expects accolades, or praise, or some other response – she just gives because giving is good, people should be loved, and she has the capacity to love.
She is always positive: Some people spend all their lives being miserable and making those around them miserable because they seem to be able to find the one thing wrong in everything that taints the whole thing, whatever it is. If you can imagine the exact opposite, you are probably close to understanding Stephanie. To be clear, she is no Pollyanna. She clearly knows when there is a problem and often attacks it with surprising ferocity. However, I can’t remember a day when I hadn’t see her smile or express some kind of joy or gratitude for all that God has given her. This is an amazing attribute that daily brings light to this sometimes dark and melancholic heart.
She always says YES to our relationship: Stephanie has a unique commitment that I think has impacted our marriage in an almost indescribable way. When she is wounded, she responds as Christ when wounded. What I mean is that instead of running, hiding, protecting or withholding, she does the opposite. What this does in times of conflict is give opportunity for healing and growth that would otherwise be unavailable. Another aspect is with respect to intimacy. Men who have yet to give up their spines for the TV remote control or the siren call of the culture tend to naturally lead. Leadership means that there is vision, drive, goals and an orientation to action and sacrifice. This orientation naturally leads to conflict and challenges with priorities. When a woman withholds herself because of conflict that arises for these and other reasons, it makes it easier for a man laden with concupiscence to harden his heart towards her. When a wife responds instead by giving herself (presumably to a good man), the effect, in my experience, is a softening and tenderness of heart. Thus, in conflict and generally in marriage, my instinct is, because of her self-giving, to be gentle, deferential, and honoring to her in any way I can.
I can’t image a better marriage to a better woman.
Now my question for you is, what about your spouse (male or female) that brings Christ, joy, goodness, and love to your marriage?
Art: Detail from Blessing of the Young Couple Before Marriage, Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret, 180-1881, PD-US Life of author plus 80 years; Marriage-cross-Christian-Symbol, Anon Moos, 26 October 2010, PD-Worldwide; all Wikimedia Commons.