Today is my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. They were married in the Chapel of St. Eulalia in the Cathedral of Barcelona on this date back in 1971. Being the eldest child, I have been around for much of the time that followed, and I have observed how they have been through everything – sickness, health, richer, poorer, good times and bad – and are still enjoying being together.
I’ve always been very grateful to have had loving parents in an intact home. Particularly when, as a result of growing up in the 70′s and 80′s, when divorce and adultery began to become more commonly accepted, I saw so many families of people I knew splitting and falling apart. My parents yelled and argued sometimes of course, and they still do today. But unlike many of their peers they didn’t throw in the towel when things were difficult, because they took the Sacrament of Marriage seriously and worked on it, with all of their good points and bad, strengths and frailties, to stay together as they had promised.
As I grow older I’m coming to understand more about this aspect of their marriage, and one which I hope to have the Grace be able to live up to when and if I am fortunate to get married myself some day. It’s something which the priest spoke about in the homily of the wedding I attended last weekend. “This covenant is based on the gift of self-sacrifice,” he noted, speaking of the marriage of my two friends. And conceptually, the idea of marriage as a mutual self-sacrificial compact is something of which I am very much aware and understand,but for now can only do so in the abstract.
One of the primary reasons that marriage is so threatened today is that it has come to be looked upon as a fundamental right of passage with no permanent attachments, or perhaps at worst a temporary state marked at the beginning and end by expensive parties and swag. Society has been falling apart since the Baby Boomers took over, of course, and as the children they have raised grow up in a melange of mixed messages with their only guide being, “Do whatever feels right for YOU,” it is no wonder that there has been a wide-spread rejection of the humble self-sacrifice expected of the individual as a spouse and parent, in favor of something approaching self-promotion. My needs must trump yours, or I will never be “fulfilled” as a person, or some other such nonsense.
That my parents have bucked this trend is all the more to their credit, as I congratulate them today. They managed to raise four healthy and successful children who love God, their family, their country, and their heritage – not always easy in a bilingual home – and who all still talk to them every day and visit them regularly. I am grateful that God brought them together and has helped them to remain together for these 40 years, providing me with love, support, and an example to keep in mind as my own life proceeds. And I wish them many, many more years together to come.