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 | By Dr. Cathleen McGreal

The Reality of 'Happily Ever After'

Our wedding guests followed a winding road past a cemetery before reaching the church in which we were married. Mingling among our friends at the reception, my husband and I were surprised by the number of remarks concerning the gloom evoked by driving past a graveyard on the way to a wedding. Perhaps, with reminders of death so close at hand, it was difficult to picture young lovers riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

Of liberty and limitation.

Born in 1874, G.K. Chesterton came of age in a society concerned about the rapid increase in “domestic liberation.” In an article on divorce, Chesterton used the example of a house to illustrate his views. Windows were magical, capturing the “paradox of limitation and liberty.” Yet a home cannot be all windows, there must be walls as well. In other words, if you want a house, it will have walls as well as windows.

Of walls.

Marriage has structure, a firm foundation in Christ and walls of commitment. We even use the phrase, “They have a really solid relationship.” But some walls can be annoying! One may be thrilled with a new home but still wish that “there was a door” here or a “bit more space to move in” there. A cautious husband may seem like a wall to his “let-the-wind-blow-where-it-may” wife. She, in turn, may be perceived as an obstacle to his sensible plans for their future. Temperament and personality, childhood experiences and desires for the future may create “walls.” Learning how to negotiate around one another’s walls adds depth to partnership.

And of windows.

Despite their familiarity, the windows of one’s home still offer delight. Subtle day-to-day changes blend into blazing red leaves, branches dripping with snow, the buds of spring. Windows in marriage show up sudden scenes of pure delight as well as reassuring scenes of contentment. Relationships are changing and dynamic. Take time to peer through the window of your spouse’s soul – the view may be breathtaking!

Through the sacrament of marriage, the Holy Spirit brings the kiss of God’s love into a relationship. “Ever after” isn’t a life of sheer pleasure. Instead, it nurtures joy as wife and husband walk together on God’s path to life.