207. Three Bits of Advice for Those Getting Married This Year

It’s wedding season …  “Love is in the air / Everywhere I look around / Love is in the air / Every sight and every sound…” Pardon my 1970s flashback. Back to the matter at hand.

Those getting married often ask me for advice. Here are three things I almost always say:

1. The number one ingredient of a successful marriage is mercy – large doses of it! Two broken people trying to love one another until death is a recipe for disaster without mercy. But here, as with everything in life, you can’t give what you haven’t received. As Pope Francis observes, showing mercy to others “assumes that we ourselves have had the experience of being forgiven by God, justified by his grace and not by our own merits.” It assumes we “have known a love that is prior to any of our own efforts, a love that constantly opens doors, promotes and encourages. If we accept that God’s love is unconditional, …then we will become capable of showing boundless love [to others]” (Joy of Love 108). 

2. To the man I’ll say, your (soon-to-be) wife’s heart is like a deep ocean that holds unexplored mysteries. Your mission is to become a deep sea diver. To the woman I’ll say, your (soon-to-be) husband’s heart is like a deep cave with unexplored caverns. Your mission is to become a spelunker (cave explorer). This is the key, I’ll say, to growing ever deeper in love and intimacy. Ah … intimacy … or “in-to-me-see”. As Saint Augustine said, the deepest desire of the human heart is to seeanother and to be seen by that other’s loving look. If spouses are to see and be seen, the husband must await his wife’s opening of the depths of her ocean before he goes swimming there, and the wife must await her husband’s opening of his caverns before she goes spelunking there. And this brings us to my next bit of advice.

3.  Spiritual nakedness. It’s relatively easy to be physically naked. Removing the spiritual fig leaves, the masks behind which we hide out of fear that we’re not lovable as we really are … that’s the hard part, and it takes a lifetime to get totally naked in this way before someone. It’s resting trustfully in the commitment of marriage itself – “I will never leave you, I will never forsake you” – that enables us, over time, to get more and more naked before one another. The first effect of sin on the marital relationship, and the covenant they had with God, was hiding. The grace of the sacrament of marriage is meant to reverse that, so that “I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself,” becomes “I was at peace because I trusted in your love, so I exposed myself.” It is embracing one another’s true spiritual nakedness that brings the deepest and most rewarding joys. When the marital embrace is truly an expression of that kind of nakedness, the heavens are opened up and you taste and glimpse things eternal…

If you or someone you know is getting married during this wedding season, send them this link — www.corproject.com/freetalk and we’ll give them a free talk on John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

Question: What advice do you have for those getting married? Share your comments on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: iStockphoto.com


For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. By taking us beyond the alternatives of prudish repression and damaging indulgence, the Theology of the Body opens the path to the redemption of sexuality and the real healing of our wounds. Learn more by watching my short film, The Cry of the HeartWatch the trailer below.

Watch the Short Film