Three Sayings on Marriage

Here are a few sayings on marriage that I often use in pre-cana settings. They are humorous but meant to make a serious point. See what you think and please give me any humorous or insightful sayings you know of as well.

  1. Some want their marriage to be ideal and if there’s any ordeal they want a new deal – The problem is  wanting marriage to be ideal. There is no ideal marriage. Two sinners have married so the marriage will be imperfect, non-ideal. Marriage is life. And life has ups and down, things we like and things we don’t, joys and sorrows, delights and disappointments. Since marriage is life it will have all these. Listen to the vows: “better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” And yet despite vows that are very clearly worded, most ignore them and seem them merely as ritual words, things you say because you’re supposed to say them. But these words are real words that mean something and reflect a sober appreciation that life isn’t always what we want.  It is interesting, despite the usual cynicism of our age, many still have very idyllic images of marriage: that it will be wonderful and that its fundamental purpose is happiness.   But unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments. It is frequent that, entering marriage with such high expectations, often  leads to anger and disillusionment. The most dangerous period in marriage is the first five years because that’s when the ideal gives way to the real and the real ushers in resentments. Some start looking for a new deal. In the end the key is to accept the real. Now acceptance is not the same as approval or appreciation.  Acceptance is serenity about what is, even if there are some things we wish were different. We don’t live in the ideal, we live in the real and there is serenity and stability in accepting that fact. More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse.
  2. Honey, if you ever leave me,  I’m going with you – The Scripture says that a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife (Gen 2:24). Now “cling” is a strong word. It means to stick like glue. Notice that a man does this. Boys run around and play the field, but a man looks for a wife and, finding her,  leaves his parents and clings to her. This is what a man does. He works hard to preserve union with his wife. He seeks to understand her needs and to provide, to be affectionate, affirming and encouraging. He confirms her authority over the children and teaches them to respect her. Too many men today are passive husbands and fathers. But the Scriptures place on the man the first obligation to cling to his wife. When a marriage is in trouble it is usually the wife who calls me. This is already a sign of trouble since the Lord says that clinging is the essential role the man. If there is trouble he should be the first to notice it and to work to restore proper union with his wife.  It is true today that many men have little recourse if a wife simply wants to leave, no-fault divorce is too easy and is hard to fight . But of course the question is what did he do when he first saw trouble, first saw the unity of his marriage threatened.
  3. Marriage makes two people one. The trouble comes in determining which one. – One of the biggest problems  today in marriage is power struggle. In our modern age we have rejected the biblical teaching of headship in marriage. God establishes a husband in authority in the home. Every organism and organization requires  headship. A creature with two heads is a freak. A creature with no head is dead. Having rejected the necessity of headship and the biblical teaching assigning that to the husband (eg Eph 5:19 ff) the result is power struggle between the spouses. Now a husband’s authority is not a worldly, autocratic authority but a Christian, servant based authority (Cf Mark 10:41-45).  I have written more on this matter here: An Unpopular Teaching on Marriage.   It does not follow that the husband always “gets his way.” Rather, if he is smart, he listens carefully to his wife and her wisdom. Practically speaking women have great authority in the home and its daily running and a smart husband will not seek to micromanage and usurp his wife’s role and her practical authority there and with the children. But in the end, two have to become one. Oneness requires headship, common faith, shared fear of the Lord, and a heartfelt appreciation for the gifts of each.

Please share with me any pithy, humorous and/or insightful sayings on Marriage you might know.

90 Replies to “Three Sayings on Marriage”

  1. Excellent post. The best advice I got when I got married was: Be kind, even when you don’t feel like it.

  2. My husband and I don’t argue about little things such as who gets up to let the dog out in the middle of the night. We use “rock paper scissors, throw.”

  3. As always an enjoyable post Monsingnour. A couple of comments to make. With regard to the Ephesians 5 aspect of marriage i often say to my wife, yes I am the head but it is like a Constitutional Monarchy. I may be the head, but the real power remains in my wife’s, the Prime Minister’s, office.

    I have spent the last two weeks awaiting and recovering from heart surgery to fix a congenital defect. I have seen more lessons in love in those past two weeks that one would find in a lifetime of movies or TV shows. Spouses waiting, talking, praying be the bedside hours at a time. Rolling out in a wheelchair their recently incapacitated spouse. The list could go on.

  4. Msgr. Pope, what you have written is beautiful and only too true. I think I may have e-mailed you before with a dumb question about somethign that some ‘traditionalist’ said that was bugging me. But that’s no longer here nor there.

    I was married a year and a half ago, and my marriage has from any practical standpoint failed. About 4 or 5 months ago,I told my wife I really wanted to get serious about the Church’s teachings on married sexuality, especially with regards to contraception. I told her that I know when we both got married we both followed the advice of many well-meaning people who assured us that the Church was out of date on this, and that we could in good conscience ignore such teachings. But several events, things I read, and much prayer finally led me to the consluion that I could no longer in good conscience be a dissenter.

    I never forced this on my wife. God knows it’s hard, almost impossible for someone to accept when their whole lives they never did (and I think Humanae Vitae addresses this) I told her that if God wants her to accept it, He will, but in the meantime I asked her to respect my conscience just because she was my wife and loved me, and had vowed to love me. In the meantime, I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would do what he needs to do to turn our marriage into the sacrament and instrument of salvation He intended it to be.

    It seems that after a while, her feelings for me ‘died’ and her heart hardened. I told her to let herself feel what she needs to, but to know I always love her and trust her. I told her that the feelings are not what matters, but that act of the will called love. We got more and more distant … or, she did from me – I tried what I could in the course of affection but it was to no avail. Marital relations dried up some time in June. She stopped telling me she loved me, though I always told her.

    She went through a terrible depression involving severe stress resulting in a stomach ulcer. It seems she came to the conclusion that I had changed, and that I was going down a path she could not follow. I told her ‘no, maybe not now, but pray for God’s grace for both of us, for him to make the changes he needs to for us to adjust’. I think she honestly tried to understand, honestly tried to accept the difficulty, but to no avail. She’s been miserable. I haven’t cause I just prayed daily and assumed God knows what he’s doing. Of course I wasn’t perfect, of course my communication and listening were not the best, of course I was wrapped up in my own little world worrying about stupid things when I should have had my attention totally focused on her – but blaming myself won’t get us anywhere.

    In the end, she came home one night this past week and told me she wanted a divorce. Her parents are against it, and they told her in no uncertain terms that she made a commitment that she cannot turn away from. They do not agree with me on religious issues, but they love me and told me that there is no way I deserve this. They believe she will not make herself happy, but only miserable. So, this weekend, she’s away with her family. I am spending all this time praying and fasting. There is no human reason to hope, there is only trust in God – that His will be done. I know that if I am really cast out, and if an annulment is not possible (I know evrything was there at least on my end for the marriage to be valid), then I know what is expected of me.

    Please pray for me, and for her Msgr. Pope. I know that the only thing that will help now is a complete conversion of her heart … and I can always use more conversion. All things are possible with God, and I know He loves her more than I do. For my part, I will continue to love and treat her with the respect she doesn’t deserve becuase of her behavior, but becuase I made a vow to love her always. Besides, Christ loves us though we heart him every day temendously more than she is hurting me.

    P.S. It’s very hard to find pastoral care where I live (SW Germany, though I am an American) — most priests around here tend to think of Hans Küng as a Doctor of the Church – the only one, in fact. You should be able to see my email address in this post. If you have even a half-hour or so of time to talk over the phone, I would not know where to begin to thank you. I can call the States almost for free, and would leap at the chance to receive some advice from you (I read your blog often).

    1. When a conversion occurs such as yours, it doesn’t mean that your spouse will do the same at the same time. Like a race, you have crossed the finish line before she has. She may not have even started the race yet. But she will begin and eventually will cross. It is now that you must show great love for her even in the face of disrespect and hatred for you. Your conversion was not easy, was it? You fought it. But in the end you found great love of God. Keep showing her that great love by treating her with love even when she throws insults at you. You are not the first to go through this situation but in the end your journey will be helpful to someone else or many. At times of great despair, take your feelings to the foot of Christ’s cross and ask for His help. Remember, too, that as you go to the foot of the Cross, there is a magnificent woman watching you, not far away. Turn to her and ask her help. In the end, Chase, it is worth it. Every step. I am sure all that read your comment will be praying for you and your wife. Keep up the good fight and God Bless bpth of you.

      1. Dear Chase and Msgr. Pope: When my husband and I got married, he hadn’t practiced his faith in over 20 years. He was willing to get married in the church. and we started from there. I went to Mass regularly on Sundays. When our son was born, he was baptized, but my husband scowled throughout the process. One day I was tired of going by myself and/or taking our 2 year old son with me alone. When I said I was staying home, he said, “No. It’s too important. I will go with you.” Two years later, he made his first confession in countless years. He is now a leader in our parish, starting prayer groups for men, supporting those going through trauma in their own families and marriages. Don’t give up hope. Sometimes you just have to be the example. Stop trying to convince her. Stop talking. Just do it. I know men like to win, and engage the battle. But sometimes the best thing to do is wait, be silent and pray. I hope my experiences can help you in some small way. You are in my prays.

      2. The Following is from my mother, a few days after Mom and Dad’s anniversary:

        Hi, Everyone!
        Thank you for all your remembrances of Dad and my 57th wedding anniversary
        last Sunday! Special thanks to Monica and Joe for the lovely dinner with their
        family. I wouldn’t want you to think we ignored your thoughtful caring gestures, as
        they all mean a great deal to us.
        It seems that marriage is getting to be nothing but a bad joke in our present
        society; how attitudes have changed in just 57 years! It is ironic that the (then)
        Holy Father accurately predicted our present state with the onset of ‘the Pill’ and
        wide use of contraception, which had been against the moral concept for all
        Christians. It is really appalling how acceptable living together before marriage
        has become, in spite of the factual statistic that 75 percent of couples who
        co-habit before marriage will be divorced within ten years, regardless of race,
        religion, or financial status. People have become very open about the fact of
        their children/grandchildren living with a member of the opposite sex without
        entering into a blessed union, which we frequently hear among our friends and
        associates. Until this time in history, such a situation would have been cause
        for deep shame and regret. It is as though the sixth commandment has been
        obliterated and is no longer taught anywhere.
        I am reading a book that was written especially as a manual for Priests, titled
        ‘Exorcism And The Church Militant” by Father Thomas J. Euteneuer , but which
        is also recommended as reading for the laity, and it really explains in detail the
        demise of the fabric of our society as a Christian, God-fearing nation in
        particular, and that our only hope for survival is in the family unit and closeness
        of family ties.
        The Family is the answer, and I thank God each and very day for the
        fact that we have strong marriages in our precious family. It is the only way to keep
        our young on the straight and narrow and help then save their immortal souls.
        With marriage no longer being conceived as a sacred Sacrament in society in
        general, it follows that hooking up with a same-sex partner (or your dog) would also
        become acceptable. All this makes you think the Devil is winning!!!
        But we all know that God wins in the end – has in fact, already won – and our best
        defense against Satan’s quest for souls is Prayer, the prayer of the Mass being the
        most powerful of all prayers – – and with that fact stated, I pray for holy, prayer-filled
        family life for all of our families, that all of you will grow in wisdom and grace to a happy old age

        Thanks again for your caring…, Mom
        When I asked Mom’s permission to include her letter here she replied, “Just so everyone knows our marriage isn’t perfect.” That’s Mom. It may not be perfect, but it’s pretty darn good! (From

    2. I am very sorry to hear your story.

      I have a stomach problem myself. My Dr. prescribed Omeprazole. They told me there are NO side effects. I took this for over a year and gradually I became very depressed and totally disinterested in anything (I stopped my church ministries because I could not do them because life was so overwhelming). One day my prescription ran out and I did not have a follow up appointment with my Dr. for about 2 weeks. My point is I stopped taking the medicine, after a couple of days I felt SO much better. I felt like a cloud was lifted from me. It was wonderful!!!! However my tummy did not think it was so wonderful. So I tried different things and it did not work. Finally I could not take it any more and went to the pharmatist and she gave me an over the counter of the same product. I took it and within 2 days I was having panic attacks and felt like the world was crashing in on me. I did not like the feeling. I stopped taking it and tried other products.

      “For ME” I have changed my eating habits etc… and I do not take any type of stomach medicine unless I REALLY have to. I AM NOT SAYING SHE SHOULD STOP TAKING HER MEDICINE…. but it might be worth talking to the Dr’s about some other prescription.

      Also my sister takes the same medicine and is very depressed too… but she is not willing not to take it and try something else because her stomach problems are worse then mine. She is a very unhappy person.

      Anyways, Good Luck. and talk to a Dr. it could be as easy as changing a prescription. Please understand “THIS IS NOT A Guarantee, just a suggestion!!!!!” God Bless you both!

    3. Chase – I am really sorry for you. This is a heart breaking story and I will pray for you and your wife, that she comes around to accepting you, if not your beliefs.

      I made some comments below – please understand that not a one of them is directed at you or inspired by your story. God bless.

  5. A very elderly couple was interviewed for a recent WSJ article. When asked the secret of their long marriage, the man thought a bit, and said, “well, neither of us died.”

  6. I took your video and will repost it at . That’s saying that I agree with your insights specially with those who delay marriage because of immaturity or promiscuity.

    Then again, there may be pathological cases where the men are scared of marriage because of what they’ve seen with their parents e.g. if the mother dominated their dad or was unfaithful.

  7. If I may add another saying: “It’s not about finding the right person as much as, being the right person.”

  8. My Deacon husband and I teach RCIA. When asked what is the secret to our 37 years of marriage, my husband first answers, “yes dear”. Then he gives the real answer, always strive to give 100 percent to the other spouse.

  9. A on old Jewish couple go to a divorce attorney. He’s 97, she’s 93. The lawyer says, “Why on earth would you want to get a divorce now? Why have you waited so long?” The wife answers, “We were waiting for our children to die.”

  10. I was once asked, “what is your secret to your successful marriage?” and the response God gave me to share was,

    “Don’t give yourself any other option.”

    This has worked for 37 years, and not because it was always easy.

  11. Dear Monsignor Pope:

    Thank you for this excellent teaching. I have much experience of being a boy, throughout most of my 60 years on this planet. I did not set out to be a boy, but to be a man, and thought I was. 2 failed marriages and hard work to sabotage the third marriage are evidence that I was a boy, not a man.

    But, I met and married a woman who has helped me lovingly come to see what it takes to be a man. Oh, and above that there was a God who loved me even more, and would not leave well enough (okay bad enough) alone. Almost 7 years ago, I was disabled in a car accident, and my wife was disabled about the same time with autoimmune diseases. This was by the grace of God, as in the time we have had together, I fell in love, really fell in love, with HIM and her. We have a really good, really committed marriage, with genuine affection and concern for each other and our eternal salvation, and for that of our children, grandchildren and others we meet along the way.

    It’s harder to be a man than a boy, though very fulfilling. I am very much in love with my dear wife, and she with me,

    I have provided a link to your post on my own blog site, with my thoughts added – not to alter anything you taught, but to add my personal experience in a limited fashion to it.

    God Bless You, Father

    Michael Brandon

  12. Chase,

    If you and/or your wife planned to use contraception on a continual basis, then probably your marriage was not valid and can be easily annuled. It may not be the answer you want, but it might be your best option. It seems your wife was too immature to accept the responsibilities of marriage.


    1. Thanks, I though that myself. We both planned on using contraception at the time of the marriage. It was very very very hard for me to come around to realizing how right the Church’s teaching was. We didn’t plan on using it indefinitely, just while our finanical situation was so bad. But th emore I read about the Church’s vision (God’s vision) for marriage, I realized why contraception can in no way have any part in that.

      No, it’s not the answer I’m looking for, but I think of it this way: I am praying for a deep conversion for us both, and the salvation of this marriage. That said, I believe that if the Lord does not grant this request, then I think it may come out that this marriage never existed sacramentally.

  13. # 2. ‘Honey, if you ever leave me, I’m going with you’. Really? Try that with a woman who insists ” I never loved you’. This said after 14 years of marriage. Had I followed her, she would have had me arrested for stalking after slapping a restraining order against me.

    The last sentence, where you essentially blame a husband for the behaviour of an unfaithful, unloyal wife is nothing short of outragous.[FYI: My Ex-wife had 12 years of Catholic Education and was raised by 2 devote Catholics, as was I ]

    Disagree with your patronizing, simplistic and unrealistic advice. I found the whole piece insulting and degrading, not humorous or serious at all.

    Is THIS the best you can come up with? Platitudes, rhetoric and polyanna sayings!?!

    YOUR ‘article’ is a prime example as to why & how OUR church has and continues to fail couples. Statistics do not lie.


    1. Tony,

      I am sorry your marriage ended. I think this however affects your understanding that of the tone and intent of my piece which is meant to be humorous with a teaching. I stand by what scripture says that a husband, as head of the household, has the primary responsibility to cling but, if your read the piece a little closer you will see that I acknowledge the difficulty that men face in the is regard in modern times. Hence I think some of your remarks are unfounded.

    2. I think your condemnation of Msgr. Pope’s catechesis misses the mark.

      Many teachers in the Church are seemingly embarrassed by numerous teachings concerning marriage, and so have shut up concerning it, or have caved in to society’s view of marriage. For 40 years, we have been told that the Church is “out-of-touch”, or “behind-the-times” and must catch up. So our pastors, by and large, sold out. That caused the problem you decry: Catholics, on the advice of their pastors, have thrown the Church’s teachings on chastity, marriage, contraception, etc. out. Speaking as someone with experience, it is increasingly obvious that the silence and concession of priests have left the faithful not prepared for the married life as God ordained. The silence of our shepherds and pastors has set us up for failure.

      It is Msgr and an increasing amount of (by and large) younger priests who only now starting to stand up and teach what the Church has taught. Their voices have enlightened the ignorant. Such enlightenment always leads to both condemnation and freedom. The Truth has condemned those who have failed to live in accordance with it, while it also sets us free from our failings.

      Thank you Monsignor.

  14. You’ve got some great insights there, Monsignor. Having been married twice to two very different men, I could probably write a book on marriage – maybe I should. Here’s a couple thoughts:

    I think I said somewhere before in this blog that when a woman says it’s over, it’s over.

    What I didn’t say, because it wasn’t germane at the time, is that men need to learn to listen to their wives, not so much for what they say, but what they mean when they say certain things. I don’t know of a basically normal relationship that fell apart where there weren’t many, many signs that things weren’t right and that the husband ignored. Or tried to bully-about a change.

    Does that mean he has to be a mind reader? Not at all. But he needs to accept that women have feelings that run strong and deep, and if she says something, attention needs to be paid.

    Women have the same obligation to listen, but men tend to be less obvious (no subtle hints) and then more direct when they end the marriage.

    On another point, specifically the power struggle – this was bound to happen as the roles of husbands and wives have gotten more and more blurred, what with women more in the workforce and fewer of them at home actually being a homemaker. Money is power, working women have equal power, and they don’t feel compelled or have the desire to be ‘just a mom.’ Hence, a power struggle.

    Well, I guess I could go on all day. I’ll write an essay about this on my own blog one of these days and send it to you, Monsignor. 🙂

  15. My wife of 25 years and I have reached an agreement. With my unquestioning support, she makes ALL the little decisions, and I make all the big ones: Little decisions – hers – (Should we buy new furniture, or a new car, or a new house)… Big decisions – mine – (Should Russia go to war with Red China)!. We never argeue… LOL…

  16. My counseling professor often said, “Marriage is a struggle to see whose family of origin gets replicated.”

  17. Married 55 years and counting – We became friends as HS Juniors; often on dates, with no car, we would pray the rosary together (quietly if in presence of others) on the bus going home. Hundreds of rosaries before our marriage at age 22.
    Children began arriving in second year of marriage; we reached an understanding that if one of us walked out, the one leaving would have to take the kids – five in all. Neither of us wanted to face the kids alone. BTW, we still pray rosaries together, several times each week. Our intentions each day shift, depending on what is happening. Each weekday, Monday through Friday we devote to one child, in age order (oldest on Monday, etc.). We often do not know what problems or temptations afflict a specific adult child, but God knows.
    Major decisions cause prayer together, seeking guidance. At one point we changed cities (Thousand mile move), and prayed about it before deciding to accept the job offer for husband.
    IMO prayer together is a requirement for a successful marriage.

  18. Msgr. Pope, I read your articles faithfully. I wished you had a newsletter notification in case I missed one. You are truly a man of God whom He loves very much. Your teachings are filled with His spiritual guidance and sense of importance yet gentle. I’ve learned so much from you which is the manner of your talent and blessings. Now, this article is too rich. I wish I had it when I was married but am printing it for my children to discuss (we’ll check out the references given). I share a great deal of your articles (lift them actually) with my Catholic and non-Catholic groups at AARP. I always receive responses and comments reflecting the appreciation and insight they provide. The humor injected in the 3 descriptions is exactly right. Humor is a main ingredient in a marriage. Keep that sense and the problems are more easily understood and not harmful to a discussion but rather lead to opening up feelings and wants. My parents marriage was always honorable and religious. Humor came from Dad. Boy he could tease Mom and we’d all laugh. I remember his saying marriage is not 50/50. Some days more, some days less. God bless you always, Zil

    1. Thank you for this. As for as getting notice when I publish, this can be done using the RSS feed at the top or via Google. If you need help in knowing how to do this aska 5th grader 😉 or let me know and I’ll try to walk you through it. THanks for reading.

  19. There are good arguments against gay marriage being enforced or banned by law or constitution!;
    1. Marriage is a sacrament and a function of the Church. The government needs to get out of the business and taxation of the Church. Marriage licenses are a tax on a religous function! Why does sepparation of church and state always get used to force a church to go against what they believe to be gods’ will? Even in cultures where the line between govt. and god were blurred (the Egyptian godkings) the “priests” performed marriage, not the administrators of govt.
    2. Civil Unions ARE the function of govt.
    3. There should be NO tax breaks for marrieds, straight or gay! Separation of church and state when it’s convenient?
    4. SOME churches allow gay marriage, and even gay “priests” and “bishops” (holy Soddom and Gammorah batman!)
    5. Should anyone not a believer or member of a church be administered the sacraments of a church? barring baptism or last rites, sacraments are a concious decision on the part of an individual to follow Gods path and plan as they and their church understand them!
    6. Homosexuals are already covered and have the same civil rights that are garunteed every citizen. I don’t remember marriage being listed in my rights! many people never get married! Do I then have the right as a special intrest to enforce my views on the majority or change dogma to suit my “sins”?
    Bottom line, it is not an issue for the states or the Fed. but the churches.

    1. I disagree whole-heartedly. Marriage is a natural state of human-kind. The emotional, mental, physical, and material union of one man and one woman has been around for millenia, and as such has been the best avenue for ensuring the propagation of the species. First, it takes a man and a woman to come together in a one-flesh union to bring forth a child, to propagate the species. A human child is sexually mature between the ages of 13-17, but physically, emotionally, mentally, and intellectually, they are not mature until at the latest 21. Rearing a child to full maturity is the work of two adults: one to watch over the child(ren) and the other to obtain those resources necessary for the physical survival of the unit. The life-long union of a man and woman achieves that necessity best.

      Humans are a social creature, and so are born into societies. Speaking from a strictly evolutionary perspective, one could argue that a society can be assessed based on its ability to ensure the propagation of the species. Thus, those societies that create positive climes for the raising, caring, and educating of children, in order to be successful, must propagate themselves. Again, the union of one man and one woman for a lifetime achieves that necessity best, as one of the members, while watching over the young, can inculcate the values and beliefs of that society in efforts to prepare the children to best survive, reproduce, and raise their young.

      With this in mind, then, a life-long union between one man and one woman is in the best interest of a society to promote. Seeing as any government must be keenly interested in preserving the society in which it exists, it must also be willing to promote those practices and situations which preserve society the best. Alternate forms of producing, raising, and educating young do exist, but their successes at preserving the society to ensure future generations are not on par with the model of traditional marriage.

      With this in mind, then, any government must do whatever it can to preserve society. Putting gay unions, or any other sexual relationship is which children are not a natural possibility nor a desired outcome on the same level as the ideal form of child-production and rearing is socially irresponsible. Therefore, from a biological point of view, it is in our species best interest to promote the life-long union (without infidelities) of one man and one woman.

      1. and that is why we don’t allow infertile couples or, people who just love each other and don’t want kids, to marry… it’s just unnatural, you see. and a total collapse of our society would soon follow.

        (note: the above comment was meant to point out holes in Aaron’s argument, not to present my actual thoughts on the subject)

  20. Being married almost thirty years, we have went though many struggles, my biggest thing was to leave and expect him to break down follow me and we’d just make up, well one time he let me go and said “it’s time for you to decide who you are and what you want” I prayed hard about this, rest assured I came back, but with a whole different way of thinking. We are together because we were chosen in gods eyes to put the effort in. It’s not a game of who loves who more, we know where we belong and we love it. It is not always easy, but if you let God work in your life he will make that decision regardless what happens. Sounds to me like you have a lot of prayer going for you, follow gods will. I am sorry for your ordeal and I will also pray for you, depend on the lord to show you what he wants

  21. Marriages aren’t made in heaven, they are only finalized there. It’s just my personal observation but my own experience suggests a couple goes through a fair share of hell before we get there. Making two lives one is a growing up and growing old experience.

    1. Well, I suspect that marriages, if true are made in heaven. I understand about going through hell to get there, or at least the valley of the shadow of death.

  22. I’ve heard of a priest who begins his wedding homilies with, “Welcome to the crucifixion of Jane and John!” Not exactly hearts and ribbons, but it immediately brings to mind the sacrificial nature of marriage.

  23. My husband have been married for 44 years, going on 45. Why did I agree to marry him? Because he made me laugh and still does. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t tears, but the laughter brought us through!

  24. “,,clings to his wife (Gen 2:24)…”

    “…Now “cling” is a strong word. It means to stick like glue. [Notice that a man does this.] [Boys run around and play] the field, [but a man looks for a wife and, finding her, leaves his parents and clings to her]…”

    “[This is what a man does. He works hard to preserve union with his wife. He seeks to understand her needs and to provide, to be affectionate, affirming and encouraging. He confirms her authority over the children and teaches them to respect her].”

    Msgr. Pope, you are a genius! No one ever told me that before…I am serious…In my nearly 60 years as an American Catholic, I do not ever recall this obvious Truth ever “spelled out” so clearly!

    This information is vitally, necessary in the formation of every single Catholic Male who thinks he is called to the vocation of Matrimony. I believe that this concept alone; if properly taught, would anihilate the current divorce rate among Catholics in the US. Catechitsts of the World, Listen-up! and please take some notes. Thank you Msgr. Pope. Great Post!!!

  25. I often wonder about being a stay at home dad and whether or not that is consistent with what it means to live as Our Father wants us to live? I grew up in the “traditional” household, dad works and mom is home with the kids. Yet, my wife and I decided that given our career paths it would be best that I stay home and she remain working. Whatever is best for the children is and always will be our intention. So comes the guilt. Maybe if I had made better career choices, and I had the opportunity to change many times believe me, perhaps we could be, structurally, a more sound family unit? However, when it comes to the faith I am definitely the “leader”. Early on I told my wife that I would like the family to go to church. If she did not want to, I would like to go with the children myself. From the beginning we went and still, unless other circumstances arise, go as a family. I try to do little things to start good habits young. I ask my wife to dress the boy in pants for church, not jeans or shorts. I try to dress nice for Church out of respect and want my son to have that respect too someday. We take off his hat upon entering and put it on after we have left. My wife is awesome. She tries to dress him nice and I can tell she is doing it out of love and respect for me even though she thinks shorts are no big deal, especially on the little ones. I appreciate and thank my wife for granting my wish and let her know it is for Our Father who has blessed us and also for our son’s future benefit. So, it’s an interesting predicament I am in but I put my faith in Our Father and have learned, and am still working on, submitting my entire will to him. I have received so much once I made the solid decision to live with him as the center of my being that I guess I should just let him do his work. Excellent post Father and any advice or insight into my current state of living would be most appreciated. I am truly happy but always want to be a better husband, Father and above all a greater servant of the Lord. God bless you and please keep writing. Your inspiration is truly from Heaven and we the faithful need to hear you because through you there is no doubt in my mind we are hearing from God.

  26. Chase,
    I read your story here about your marriage and praying for your wife’s conversion.
    I would like you to know that 17 yrs. ago I converted, at that time I was only married for 6yrs. I was living outside the church and my husband is protestant. When I heard about the church teachings on contraception I excepted it immediately. The problem was how was I to convince my husband that this was God’s plan for marriage? I went to an adoration chapel, prostrated before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and simply said “Jesus, if you want be to obey your teaching, than I need you to open my husband’s heart to NFP.
    I came home that day and asked him if he would consider going to the classes and he said yes. We have been practicing NFP ever since. Now the trick to all this is the “way” we communicate these kinds of changes in our lives and how we would like the other spouse to respond. A BIG threat is if the spouse feels that your religion or new found belief is more important than she or he. You must be gentle, prudent and loving.You may not contracept, if your spouse chooses to against your wishes the church teaches that you may have relations it would not be your sin. Explain to her that your also concerned for her health because the pill is harmful and does not prevent conception only implantation results are abortion. “Show” her you care for her more than anything in the world. Be patient, that love and patience will soon lead your wife to Christ and His church. Will it be easy? No. But much easier than being so black and white that no time has been given to work out this difference. Love and serve her. And let God convert her. I will pray for you!

    1. Thanks. Believe, me I tried it all. I’m fully aware that I am not at fault (I’ve read the ‘Vademecum for Confessors’ on this issue) … but I think her line of thought was ‘if we can have such different outlooks on life then how can this succeed?’ Sometimes I wish it were her forcing me to give up contraception – for some reason I see that as a department where a wife has a lot more clout. Even through all the stuff we’re going through now, I continue to show her that I love her and that my heart is always open to her. And believe me, with all the pain in this issue, what sustains that love is this: Knowing that in my life I have caused so much pain to Christ, yet he never once stopped loving me, why then should I offer her any less in return but love and forgiveness?

      Thank you so much to everyone for your prayers. This is not over yet, and I am still praying for that miracle.

  27. Where does the Catholic church teach that the husband is the authority in marriage?
    Yes the husband has authority over the wife, as wife, – just as the wife has authority over the husband as husband. (Not my opinion, this is from Thomas Aquinas. St Paul himself teaches it regarding the marital”right”)

    Canon law explicitly states that H and W are equal in rights with regards to everything relating to the marriage.

    Something with two heads is a monster? The Church has Christ as head in heaven and the pope as head on earth.

    Christ gave his Bride his full authority to operate in his name Matthew 28 “All authority is given …”,
    Christ gives us his Body whenever his bride tells him to do so through the words of consecration. This is the context in which a husband must understand St Paul on authority in marriage… a husband who imitates Christ’s authority over the Church must be willing to hand over authority to act to his wife.

    In our marriage, my wife and I find it better two operate as one head with two equal sides, just like the brain has two hemispheres that just have to get along with each other – each hemisphere tends to control the aspects it is better at (physical, emotional, etc)

    When one of us tends to dominate, we find our vision is blurred just as when eyes are out of focus and each eye imposes its point of view on the other, instead of the two perspectives uniting to provide depth of vision.

    1. the pope is just the vicar of christ. so the church does not have two heads as you say!

      1. this Council is resolved to declare and proclaim before all men the doctrine concerning bishops, the successors of the apostles, who together with the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ,(2*) the visible Head of the whole Church, govern the house of the living God. (Lumen Gentium 18)

        Anathema sit…!!!

        Catholic doctrine is clear that the Church has an invisible and a visible head, so for consistency, you should hold that the husband should be as invisible as Christ is and leave the visible authority up to his wife.

          1. I agree with you about the “both” part and I also share the experience that every marriage I know of where they buy into the husband dominates stuff have huge problems – all the signs of the damage of original sin of the first husband and wife “he will lord it over you…” God said to Eve. These marriages also show little sign of the sacramental grace won for us by Christ that helps men and women overcome the temptation of men to dominate and women to let them, the damage of original sin.

            However I disagree that “if you’ve never been married, never raised a family, never actually lived a decades long marriage, what could you possibly know about it?”. My marriage often benefits from the advice and wisdom of celibate priests and religious, as well as from the testimony of their lives: that we can control our passions and put Christ first in our lives whether married or not.

          2. Daniel – to add to what you’re saying – perhaps in the wisdom of our Lord, male headship was intended as a *remedy* to the damage of original sin. That is to say, if after the fall, man is now constantly tempted to dominate woman, a correct understanding and application of headship – that is, the husband loving his wife as Christ loved the Church, sacrifically, even to the point of death – the enactment of this headship could both be man’s penance and his redemption from the curse of the fall.

            In other words, it seems that there is a way in which true biblical headship can *reclaim* genuine masculinity – not by giving up on it, or by negating the clear teaching of St. Paul, but by embracing the true masculinity that Jesus himself revealed.

          3. A thought, perhaps all those homes where you KNOW the guy is the head of the household are the ones who understand it wrong. It would seem to me that those men who claim “I’m the HEAD of my household, the RULER of my domain.” have the wrong understanding of what it means to be head.

            I would further suspect that those people who have such great marriage that respect the individual yet seem to act in unison, actually conform better to what St Paul was talking about.

            To be a leader is to be a servant, to acknowledge the skills and gifts of those who “follow” you and make sure they are responsible in those areas. To decide what is best, accepting responsibility if a plan fails and giving others (and almost rejecting for yourself) any credit for it’s success.

    2. Would not the Pope be “in persona Christe” – or the ‘acting head’ of the Church for Christ on earth? Since he has no headship or authority not derived from Christ’s headship and authority. We do not have “two head” but one head who is both invisible (Christ in heaven) and visible (Christ on earth acting through the Pope).

  28. Monsignor:

    You were looking for some sayings that might be inightful in the context of marriage, and one that came to me a number of years ago, and has been helpful, when my head gets off in the clouds came from Chuck Swindoll, the well known Evangelical pastor.

    He said: “It is attitude, not aptitude, that determines altitude.”

    In my life, I always had aptitude, but it has been the last several years working with My Dear Wife, and being worked over by My Dear Saviour, gently but firmly, in both cases, where I have received an attitude adjustment that has made a world of difference in my ability to love and serve My Dear Wife, and HIM.

    God Bless You

    Michael Brandon

  29. The first one is good — I don’t think most couples enter into marriage with a sense of lifelong commitment.

    The second two….dunno. That second one can play into an abusive mentality — the husband controls the wife, the husband owns the wife, the husband stalks the wife, the husband’s “yes” trumps the wife’s “no”…creepy.

    Third one — well, you’re not married, are you? I mean, to an actual living, breathing human being, here on earth, with whom you have to live 24/7…and you’ve eschewed women for life…so of course you can’t possibly understand just how appallingly dehumanizing and offensive this is to both men and women.

    Two do not become one. Sorry, but we do not dehumanize the woman to raise the man to “headship”. A good, lasting marriage requires the

  30. I heard a priest once say that spouses should expect to have conflicts and fights but neither spouse should always fight to win. If you always fight to win, and do win, that means you are married to a loser and nobody wants that. I’m still not sure if this is good advice or not.

    @”N.”: you apparently didn’t understand the point Msgr. made in #3.

  31. No, I think Msgr. Pope misunderstands what he is saying.

    Marriage doesn’t morph two individuals into one “creature”. Two distinctly individual human beings form a union. One is not the head of the other. One is not the head of the union. Two individuals commit to each other in marriage and become “both”, not one.

    The only men and women I know who promote this husband-is-head in their marriage nonsense are divorced now, or one or both has a substance abuse problem, or one or both are having an affair, or the marriage is unhealthy, involves some form of abuse, or a chain of abuse — husband abuses wife, wife takes it out on the kids. And by abuse, I mean emotional and mental abuse more often than physical, although there is that, too.

    None of the really good, strong marriages I am aware of buy into this mentality. Both individuals are equally head of the marriage and family. Not one over the other. Not one merely because of his or her sex. It’s a true marriage, not a hierarchy. But if you’ve never been married, never raised a family, never actually lived a decades long marriage, what could you possibly know about it?

  32. Chase,
    I am sure you have tried your best!
    God Bless You always. Jesus in Holy Communion will give you the strength and hope you need during this difficult time. Again my prayers are with you.
    Saint Thomas Moore pray for us!!
    And Saint Georgio Frassati exchanged his life for the salvation of his parents marriage perhaps you could ask him to pray also?

  33. Yes, well…exactly. If you don’t get it, you shouldn’t be telling people how to run it…

    Marriage is a union between two separate individuals, it is not “a creature” (your word).

    The analogy of an animal with a head just doesn’t work when it comes to marriage.

    Every single Catholic woman I knew back in the ‘burbs who spouted that headship thing is now divorced, a drunk, a vague shadow of a person, or a bitter, resentful shrew.

    The lasting marriages, the ones I respect and admire, including my own, all involve two emotionally healthy adults, neither of whom is “head” OR, well…whatever you’d call the not-head. The tail? The arse? Please.

    BOTH adults are equally responsible for the well-being of the marriage, for bringing up the children, for the full gamut of decision making. The man isn’t making all the “big” decisions while the little lady sits home and chooses wallpaper patterns or menu choices.

    It’s all well and good to say a man (and a woman) leave their childhood homes (or, more likely these days, their respective condos) and cleave to each other (take note, MILs), but to assume in this day and age that the man is automatically “head” is ridiculous. We don’t live in those times anymore. We live in an advanced society in which men and women are more likely to be entering into the marriage as equally educated, self-sufficient, established adults rather than as teenagers leaving the farm for the first time. Women are often entering into marriage with a fair amount of accumulated wealth of their own. Men often don’t even earn as much as their wives. The husband may never be the main breadwinner. Why should a man automatically be the “head” of a marriage?

    Marriage is an equal partnership between two adults. Anything else is doomed for failure.

      1. Where is there room in that Biblical narrative for a woman who came into a marriage with an eight figure bank balance, every penny of which she earned herself? Not to mention three properties valued at another couple mil?

        You reduce marriage to a goat, or something, you state marriage is best when the women stick to worrying about the home and the children and men take care of everything else, you can’t understand a marriage in which the husband and wife are equal partners in all matters, in which there is no assumption made about the other based on sex, or no power hierarchy based on sex, and you tell me I need to make room in my head for an obviously culturally specific Biblical analogy?

        The headship thing isn’t about anything other than taking autonomy away from women. That’s all it was ever about, all it will ever be about.

        Anyone can give advice about anything. Unfortunately. However, there is a difference between knowing about something and knowing it from personal experience. There’s also a huge difference between having a preconceived notion of how things should be about something and actually having lived it yourself, especially when it comes to the most intimate relationship two people can have.

  34. Gee Monsignor, I sure hope you’ve never tried to counsel women, girls, married men…after all, being single, celibate, and a priest, what could you possibly know) about them or their concerns?

    I think that becoming ‘one’ with someone is probably one of the greatest gifts ever – the complete and absolute immersion of one’s self with another human being. Not to mention, it’s just plain romantic! And I disagree that in normal relationships with relatively normal people there is naturally a dehumanization of women or power trip for men – maybe in some circumstances that’s the case, but I think those are the exceptions to the rule. And sometimes external factors interfere; things happen and people change. Then you make the best of it. There’s almost always a way.

    The world is too complex a place now and it really takes two committed, stable people to raise children and see to the needs of the whole family. Calling the husband ‘head’ of the family doesn’t mean he is automatically a bully. It just happens to work out really well if the husband does what men do best, and that is to earn a living to support his wife who is bearing and rearing his children.

    This is really too big an issue to go into here, but that’s what I think, ftr.

  35. Regarding this notion that a person can only discuss an issue if he has “lived it”: Has Hank Haney ever played professional golf? Did Bill Walsh ever play pro football? Does a psychologist have to be crazy in order to give advice to those who are psychologically ill? Can I not speak about death until I’ve died?

  36. Father:

    Your article above coincided with an incident of biblical headship in our house yesterday, that I wrote about on my own blog this afternoon.

    My Dear Wife has been actively teaching me about biblical headship in our marriage for a number of years now, and I am finally getting it.

    “The Kingdom is a reflection of the King.” But, without a good Queen there to encourage the King and to be his helpmate, it will not reflect Christ very well, IMHO.

    Here are my own thoughts to your reflection

    God Bless You


    1. coughcoughwhippedcoughcough

      Dude — I read that, and you got used. Funny how you call her “sly one”. She got exactly what she wanted without having to take responsibility for any of it by manipulating you into thinking it was all your idea all along via this smarmy “headship” nonsense.

      1. A good leader takes into account the recommendations of those who know better than he does and delegates authority to those who have the skills. A good leader considers carefully the decision to be made and makes one, being willing to accept responsibility if it is bad or give the credit to others if it’s good.

        After reading his post, it sounds like Michael was a good leader, even to the point of giving his wife some of the credit for making the decision – which you took to being ‘whipped’.

      2. I also find it fascinating that the same teaching that makes men domineering and takes autonomy away from women has made Michael into a whipped, manipulated looser. How are both possible?

  37. When we got married nearly 25 years ago, the priest who witnessed our vows preached for nearly a half-hour. Yes, you read that correctly. 30 minutes. We loved it. We still have the videotape. He preached mostly on Ephesians 5. And he preached mostly at me.

    There’s a very good reason for that — that passage speaks more to husbands than to wives, and it speaks to husbands’ responsibilities and not to their “rights.” And the prime responsibility that underlies all else is sacrificial love, which was the focus of his preaching. At the end, he told my wife, “Your responsibility is to respect such love, yield to such love, and exercise such love.”

    And he gave this piece of advice — “Marriage is not 50-50….It is 100-100 and no turning back.”

  38. I have received better advice on marriage and parenting from my priest than from any married person. He is not biased or reacting to his own situations… he is giving it to me straight from the Scripture and the Church.

    Other than that, all I can add is that marriage is a vocation and God gives us our vocation to help save our souls. Sometimes our salvation can only come by a cross. I have many happy memories from the last 16 years of marriage but there has been a heavy cross involved for most of it. It is one day at a time for me. I can say honestly the happiest years were the ones my husband took seriously the job of being the “head” of the home while I was the “heart.” The rest of the time there has been all the qualities of a single-parent home with a visiting father one day a week or so. I would take the “head of the home” husband over the absentee husband any day. He never “lorded” anything over me, he just felt responsible. It’s no fun carrying it all on your own, even if it would appear to others that I have more “freedom” to do what I want, when I want.

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