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As a nervous and excited bride presents herself at her wedding, she first is absorbed by the aisle. This is the path she will take to marry her beloved. Eventually, she looks up, and the focus becomes on the altar. Right in front of this altar, she will be reciting the beautiful marriage vows to her beloved. When the music starts playing she begins walking, she contemplates the perfect hymns that she has chosen that expresses the couples’ love for each other.

Thus in her mind, she is thinking AISLE, ALTAR, HYMN: AISLE ALTAR HYMN.....AISLE ALTAR HYMN. Finally she looks at her future spouse and comes up with a profound insight that must have come from God, and says with affirmation, "I'll alter him."

How successful have we been in altering our spouse since our wedding day? And so, the conventional wisdom regarding marriage is that we cannot change our spouse.

Their sometimes obnoxious quirks simply need to be tolerated… always forgetting to put the cap on the tube of toothpaste, or leaving little hairs on the bathroom floor of the shower…these annoyances can be so great that the person that we at one time put on a pedestal, as being god or goddess-like having experienced love at first sight, we find to be as broken as we are.

So, can we change our spouses? We may not ever be able to change those annoying quirks and strange idiosyncrasies that we didn’t realize we ever signed up for, but what we ARE called to help our spouse to change himself or herself more into the image and likeness of God. And this is the change we need to focus on in our marriages. It’s a change that aids our spouse in breaking away from sin.

And we don't say that we can change our spouse even with regard to developing virtue. We can help them change, for the change must come within one's conscience.

When Michelangelo began a sculpture, he started with a simple block of marble. But he was able to see the beauty of a figure in a completely unaltered block of marble prior to making any alterations. Thus his method of working was to chisel out all that was not part of the figure.

Sin and Vice are never, ever, part of who we are. Sin is a privation of the good of who we are truly made to be and reflect.

When we focus on the sin we perceive in our spouse, we are focusing on a false reality, because our spouse is not that sin. We cannot allow that sin to prevent us from seeing our true spouse, made in the image and likeness of God. Thus we must always see the beauty of God in each other, and help our spouse get rid of sinful tendencies and habits that prevent God’s image to shine through.

Ultimately, it will take profound humility for a husband to allow his wife to form him, and vice- versa, for a wife to allow her husband to help form her. Thus humility is so important in the marital relationship, and is simply not spoken of enough.

So, I’m going to give three suggestions that can help us to achieve such humility and greater love for a successful and healthy marriage formation.

1.) Love God more than you love your spouse, and love your spouse more than you love yourself.

A wedding in the context of the Mass is beautiful, but the focal point is not the wedding vows. It's the altar of sacrifice.

A greater love will lead to a greater humility.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s title of his book on marriage is Three to Get Married. You see, marriage is between three: God, husband, and wife. We can only love our spouses if we love God first. That’s our love source. Any marriage that does not put God first is destined to fail.

Our mutual love of God as husband and wife is primary. And this love reaches the utmost level of love which is adoration and worship of God. Not through a submission of fear, but through a submission of love.

2.) “Don’t just make a living; make a life.”

Marriage is fruitful. In marriage we participate int the procreation of God. Certainly, those of you are raising or who have raised children know that making a living can consume everything in our marriage and family life.

Dinner Together - time away from social media - real communication.

The words, “Don’t just make a living, make a life,” actually come from the famous UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden. He won ten NCAA titles. He was so serious about his job, that he would make his players pay very close attention to minute details. His first lesson to all of his players had to do with how to put on their socks and shoes without any wrinkles so that they would not risk getting blisters.

As intense as he was in preparing his players for the game, he was even more intent on having a successful marriage, and he treated his wife like a queen. Didn’t we do this when we first started dating? We need to continue serving our spouses with respect and dignity and love.

After his wife died on March 22, 1985, John Wooden spent the next twenty five years writing a letter to his wife every night, and placed it on her bed. Despite his productive career, his life was dedicated first to his wife and family.

Ultimately, this is the mistake in putting more trust in financial security as the key to a successful marriage, than in putting trust in God’s promise and love of us, to never abandon us and always answer our every need.

3.) Remind yourselves of the ultimate goal of marriage: to get each other to heaven.

There are times when a marriage can seem so challenging, that we can no longer look at our spouse as the beloved, but as the despised, the hated, the cause of our misery. But Deacon, my spouse lied to me…..and has been lying to me for years! Or my spouse has another relationship. I know it. What do I do about that?

We must remember, my brothers and sisters in Christ, that the real enemy to marriage is the exact same enemy that tempted our first parents in the Garden of Eden.

There is a good movie out there titled, The War Room, that demonstrates this point. The older, wiser widow in the movie counsels a younger married woman regarding her failing marriage, and suggests praying for her husband more intensely.

My friends after the fall, the earth is no longer our permanent home, and it isn’t until Jesus Christ comes to sacrifice Himself, demonstrating the utmost Agape love the universe has ever witnessed that we are enabled to receive so great a destiny as heaven. Don’t ever forget that heaven is the final destination we seek.

Jesus says in Mt 22:30, “At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven.”

We always need to remember that our goal is to aid our spouse to one day shine like the angels in heaven. For this world is passing.

Lord, You chose to dwell with us…… us to make each other worthy of your companionship.

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