Rev. Fr. Eugene Usifoh
“So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and acts accordingly is like a wise man, who built his house on rock” (Matt. 7:24).
One of the most important parts of a house is considerably invisible, swallowed up in the earth. Consequently, we do not think about it but not to duely appraise it will spell down for the house. Consequently, this is the first priority of a good builder/engineer. This is the foundation, a layer of bricks, rocks, concrete etc forming the solid underground base of a building.
True to its essence and the nature of the building, the foundation is to be deep and solid i.e. rocklike. This demands planning, hard work and time. For the uninitiated, it may be a waste of time and effort but not for the builder. Indeed it is not a waste of time and effort because to secure the future of the house, it occupants and properties, the true builder cannot rush it for their fate depend on the soundness of the foundation.
Building a marriage is like building a house. Like the house, it cannot appear overnight. On wedding day you do not take possession of an already made marriage house/home, you are only beginning the work. As you do, look to the future because it is a life-long project which we face and need to withstand the storms of life. So a good foundation is necessary. You must build not on sand but on rock.
Some of the rocks (virtues) necessary for the Foundation of Marriage are:
- Fidelity: This implies faithfulness which is expressed in the vows consented to by couples during the celebration of marriage liturgy (unconditional commitment). This is not just physical but fidelity of the heart. Faithfulness here means you been ready to keep his own side of the bargain/vows and also believing that your partner will keep theirs (even when that partner gives you little grounds to believe so).
There are times in any marriage that the going gets tough. Even to the extent of loving your spouse becomes as difficult as loving an enemy. This may be due to some form of infidelity not limited to adultery such as back-biting your pattern and being unsupportive etc which poison marriage love. It is in times like this that the grace of fidelity will give you strength to be ready excuse, trust, hope and endure whatever comes in marriage. (I Cor.13:47)
Trust: Marriage is an expression of faith in one another. You can do no greater honour to a person than to trust him. Without mutual trust, marriage relationship will not get off the ground. Trust is the most precious gift one give to another. Couples must learn to trust one another and give reason to be trusted. Only trust can hold a relationship through trials and tribulations or else suspicion and even gossip will bring ruin. By trusting each other, spouses accept and believe one another. “To be trusted is a greater compliment than be loved” (George MacDonald).
Respect: In marriage, couples should have reciprocal respect for one another. In this light, marriage partners should recognize the individuality of their partners. More so, each individuals, is there to complement and complete the other. As the naira note as two faces yet form one note to make an effective legal tender so a couple through two individuals, come to be one to establish a marriage bond.
Gentleness: Gentleness is not weakness but a form of strength. This is because it takes a strong and self controlled person to be gentle. It is easier to give in to anger than to be gentle. You need gentleness to follow, understand and co-operate with your partner. “Good manners and soft words have brought many a difficult thing to pass” (Aesop). “He who preserve gentleness amid pains, and peace amid worry and multitude of affairs, it almost perfect. Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” (St. Francis de Sales)
Communication: Couples share a lot of things beginning from their wedding cake, gifts from guests and much more their time, money, bodies and home. Yet even more is expected to be shared. Couples must learn to communicate/share their inner feelings – joy and sorrows, success and failures, prospects and problem, from one heart into the other. This will enhance unity of heart. It is important that each day couples should endeavour to talk and listen to one another. “The best conversation is that which the heart has a greater share than the head” (La Brunjere).
Faith in God: God is the author of marriage, so He can sustain and nourish it. Nobody is perfect, we are limited, weakened by sin and selfishness. Thus you need God to increase you. Prayer in marriage is in this light an expression of this faith in God. Through prayer couples show forth the Christian character of their marriage, connecting to God who has the instruction manual and inspiration on how the marriage house can be made strong and viable. “There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither hope nor love without faith” (St Augustine of Hippo).
Forgiveness: Marriage they say is the union between two forgivers. For couples are imperfect creatures who sometime fail one another leading to disagreements, misunderstandings, arguments, harsh words and hurts. These become wounds that if left unattended will fester and worsen, causing misery and marital ruin. Couples must be quick to reconcile, to make up and heal wounds as this will constantly rekindle the fire of marriage. As St. Paul said, “Do not let your anger last until the end of the day, lest you give the devil a foothold” (Eph.4:26-27).
Love: Without love we are nothing (1Cor.13:2). Love is the mortar that holds the aforementioned and other rocks for the foundation of Christian marriage together. It is love that makes all the difference in marriage in relationship. It is through love that partners can always desire to improve the marriage situation. Yes, marriage is a give and take relationship. But with love in the heart partners will be ever more willing to give unselfishly, to seek the good of the other than fulfilling ones desire. Unselfish giving is the “kpim” i.e what holds marriage life. It is not enough to say “I love you” but show it with deed of care. They may not big deeds for little deeds matter too. “To love is to wish the other’s highest good” (R.H. Benson).
In sum, though they are many more to mention, but if couples builds their marriage on these moral and spiritual stones, they will find acceptance, warmth, happiness, security and peace as God gives men in our world. True, there is no perfect happiness in this world but if attention is not paid to these rocks, even if you live in a mansion, you not find what you are looking for i.e a blissful marriage.
Prayer: May God continue to uphold the institution of marriage and inspire intending couples and already married to practice those virtues that will give life to their marriage. So that it will indeed be a blessing. Amen.