I made my husband an apple pie the other day. It was a simple gesture, but it carried a lot of meaning. We’d been out of the house most of the day, so I wasn’t sure I’d have time to get it done. Slicing and peeling six cups of apples, getting the crust just right, and making sure I didn’t leave it in the oven for too long are all tasks that can become complicated and stressful when an active two-year-old is around to “help”.
But I felt compelled to do something just for my husband. It was his favorite pie. I knew the kids wouldn’t even eat it. But it had been too long since I’d done something special just for him–too long since I’d made the effort to recapture the romance and eagerness of our courtship days. As it says in the book Good News For Married Lovers: A Scriptural Path for Marriage Renewal by Charles Gallagher, SJ, and Mary Angelee Seitz, “How often do we fall into a lonely married holding pattern: we aren’t fighting, but we simply stop growing closer? Where is the eagerness for each other?”
We hear so often that marriage is under attack right now. But marriage has been under attack long before man-made laws and rainbow flags. The devil didn’t simply tempt both Adam and Eve that fateful day in the garden. He first tempted Eve, then convinced her that luring her husband into sin was a good thing. He drove a wedge between the two of them before they even left the garden. He pitted husband against wife, forever contaminated the purity of their love, and created a pattern of sin that plagues the offspring of even the best marriages to this day.
Oh, how the devil hates the institution of marriage! He gnashes his rotten teeth in his distress over something that images the Holy Trinity to our fallen world. He clenches his gnarled fingers when the love of husband and wife brings forth new life. He waits in eager anticipation for the moment when bitterness, anger, weariness, or passivity will open the door enough for him to worm his way in.
We are all vulnerable. None of our marriages are safe. In fact, it is the holiest marriages that he watches most intently, waiting patiently for a weak moment.
And so we must always be on guard. It is not enough to live with “good enough”. We must always be running toward our spouse. It is this eagerness, this desire to give all that we have to the other, that is our protection. And when we protect our marriage, we protect our children. A couple who is constantly growing closer can’t help but fill their home with love and kindness, compassion and trust. A couple who grows closer loves to extend that closeness to their children, and a pattern of virtue begins to replace the pattern of sin. In this way, a holy marriage has the power to change the world for the better. A holy marriage bears good fruit with exponential effects.
Starting today, take that first running step toward your spouse. It isn’t always easy, but it also doesn’t take much to please the one who loves us. Make a favorite food, sling the baby up and take a walk together, finally plan that date night you’ve been talking about, or just leave the housework for a moment and give your spouse a spontaneous kiss. Because when we fill our marriage with these kinds of gestures, we leave no room for the one who tempts us. We only leave room for the grace of God.
Resources to protect and strengthen your marriage:
Image Credit: Getty Images (thinkstock.com)