On this final day in the month of love, I want to celebrate the story of a small town in the southwest mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Settled many centuries ago by a band of ethnic Croats, the town of Siroki Brijeg does not have a single record of divorce or an instance of a family splitting up. Devoutly Catholic, this tight-knit community places their spirituality at the center of their marriages.
While researching this story, I uncovered some incredibly interesting information about marriage. Of all Christian denominations, Catholics have the highest success rate for lifelong marriages, with 79 percent staying together. Most attribute that accomplishment to the sacred sacrament of marriage, which declares that a union cannot be dissolved until death.
I also stumbled across a powerful statement from the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism that I believe truly captures the essence of what a marriage should be.
In marriage, we cannot rely on our own human strength. Temptation enters into every marriage in one way or another. On one’s wedding day, it is hard to imagine a day when it all won’t be perfect. Little do the young hearts know that they are embarking on a road which will travel to the highest peaks and the lowest valleys. It is during those times spent deep in the valley that it takes heroic efforts by both to stay the course. At times it is even necessary for one spouse to have the mental discipline to pull the other spouse back into the marriage. This can be physically, mentally, spiritually or all of the above.
Those who are experiencing this or have in the past can fully appreciate the grace that is necessary to hold on through the storm or the silence. There are days when it all seems hopeless. Then a moment of true grace can bring a flood of renewed love and vitality back to the relationship to renew the sacramental bond. It is during these times of intense difficulty that spouses can experience what is truly meant by those seemingly prophetic words now being added during some marriage ceremonies: “You may kiss the cross.”
To make sure you keep the spark alive in your relationship — before and after the wedding — take a look at just how important scheduling date nights with your partner can be to cultivating and sustaining a happy marriage.