When was the last time you looked at those old wedding pictures? Blow off the dust and take a look at them again. They transport you back to a time when you celebrated something wonderful, your marriage with each other and your reliance on Christ to help you grow in wisdom and meaning together.
Over the years, like everything in the physical and mental universes, reality rusts, gets old, has adjustments, shrinks in some values while enhancing other new ones. In marriage, you continue to grow older, but with a caveat–you do so with a significant other. The good time and bad times, sickness and health, the times you grew apart, then back together, only to repeat the cycle over and over. It is in living with the emotions and personality quirks of the other person that defines the quality of your relationship. A few quick reflections before we look at what it means to be legally married but physically and mentally divorced and five remedies.
THE SIXTY SECOND CATHOLIC: Marriage
I. WHAT DO YOU SEE? When you look at those old wedding pictures, what do you see? Just write down what you see physically in as much detail as you can. Just write down what is in those wedding pictures, don’t interpret what they mean to you.
WHAT DO YOU SEE? When you look at those old wedding pictures this time, notice where you are now verses where you were when you got married. What is the value of the time you spent in your relationship? Where is your treasure? What part does love play in your relationship with each other. You are looking at the wedding pictures, you do so from the viewpoint of loving others as Christ has loved you. Does that make a difference in what you see?
If you are legally married, but, when you look at your old wedding pictures, mentally and spiritually divorced, what can you do? What follows is a retreat that the both of you can make in the privacy of your home. It is contemplative because, with Christ, you can move from your old self to your new self. Remember, it takes two.
What follows is an excerpt from my book entitled, Legally Married, Mentally and Spiritually Divorced. http://www.amazon.com/books/ then type in Dr. Michael F. Conrad.
THE TWELVE GIFTS OF RELATIONSHIP
Twelve Gifts God Gives You to Help You Get to Heaven
When God gives a gift, it is not like receiving some delicious fudge at Christmas, or a pair of exquisite Steuben swans for a wedding anniversary. http:// steuben.com God gives from the depth of who God is. That gift is always given with unconditional love. Once more, God always gives us a part of who God is, as a gift. That is our template. God allows us to participate in his own energy, off-the-scale knowledge, love, and service. When you read about these twelve gifts,
THINK SPIRITUALLY! Read Galatians 5:16-26.
Make A Twelve Gifts Retreat With Each Other
You are in a marriage which is legal, but somehow your relationship leaves a lot to be desired. Right? You have just read this book which provided you with some thoughts for spiritual food. Right? You have just completed the exercises to heighten your sensory and mental awareness of relationship. Right? So, what is left? You need closure with the past, and a recommitment to the future…together. No one will be telling you what to say or how to think in this retreat. It is self-directed. My suggestion is that you take the themes on page 208 (in the book) and develop a program for your partner. Take turns being the leader.
Love is the first gift you will give one another…For- ever. At Christmas, you give gifts to symbolize the love that is behind it. Love may be the most important gift you give to your spouse. Share God’s love with each other.
Your Very First Meeting
Share the love that leads to authentic relationship.
Without trying to sound too simplistic, the relationship is doing activities together. It means sharing your- self with another person, in this case, your spouse. It means facing your spouse and talking together. This relationship is different from that of you and your children. If you are legally married, you can also be sexually distant, yet still, be spiritually united. You can be mentally and spiritually joined together, yet have little or no sexual intercourse. You can be romantic without having to perform sexual intercourse. Most importantly, you can have sexual contact, using all your senses and your mind, and still not experience the physical act of intercourse. What is essential is love that leads to a relationship. Your norm in finding authentic love is the love that God has for each of us. Read John 3:15-21 together. What does love mean in terms of your relationship? Spirituality helps you grow towards each other by sharing the gift of love. You only have the gift of love because God saw fit to share it with both of you. God shares, not from the excess of love, but from the very center of who God is. That love is pure energy.
Joy is the second gift you will share with one another. At Christmas you give gifts to symbolize the love that is behind it. Giving produces great joy. Sharing joy with your family is what life is all about on earth, but also in Heaven. You can share joy together every day.
Lesson Twelve Your Second Meeting Just Being There.
Because Josh couldn’t stand his wife’s nagging about his personal habits, he gradually became alienated in his affections towards Beth. Both Josh and Beth were like their parents. Josh’s father was easy going and slow to anger. Beth was like her mother, tactless, opinionated, and a faultfinder. They both did well for the first three years of marriage, but the last twenty were without job, without sex, and without hope. Josh would read his Scriptures every day. That did not seem to help his situation, but he never gave us hope. He did not believe in divorce, and Beth was too insecure to want a separation, despite her pseudo bravado. As the years rolled by, including the birth of two children, Beth began to mellow a little. In everyone’s life, there is a critical moment that can lead to a dramatic change in behavior. Beth and Josh attended a Marriage Encounter retreat at their church. It was the first time they had faced each other in years. They accepted the opportunity to share with each other. This retreat turned them towards each other. They began to listen without fault-finding.
Peace is the third gift you will share with one another. Peace does not only mean you know how to hold your temper when you are aggravated.
Your Third Meeting
Use the energy of God’s peace to face each other mentally and spiritually.
Peace is not just the absence of conflict or war, as darkness is the absence of light. Rather, peace is a gift that provides sustenance and the ability to gain perspective over your life. Peace is a gift that causes you to face God, your spouse, your family, and most importantly, yourself. When you empty yourself of hatred, jealousy, envy, lust, mean-spirited, self-indulgence, fill the vacuum with the gift of peace. For spiritual relationships, peace is the gift of God’s own energy to fill the darkness of your animality. On a human level, you can have peace, which is the lack of stress, or the absence of conflict, but it is not the same as spiritual peace. When God gives you a gift, it does something wonderful within you both, and between you. God is pure energy. That means the power of God is available for you to help you face each other. What may be difficult on the human level is possible on the spiritual level. Did you understand that statement? You can be living independent lives, yet still, be facing each other mentally and spiritually. That is much different than being legally married, yet mentally and spiritually divorced.
THE FOURTH GIFT
Patience is the fourth gift you will share with one another. Patience means you can control yourself, when faced with a stressful situation.
Your Fourth Meeting
You are not your spouse.
One of the great lessons of human relationship is to let each other be themselves. You are not your wife, and you are not your husband. You are not your children, and you are not your parents. Identifying who you are is the first step of facing each other. Do you want to make your spouse into your image and likeness? If so, you will no doubt be legally married, but mentally and spiritually divorced. If you have a need for control, you must let go of making your spouse into your image and likeness. You will feel the tension and pull, as your significant other resists the pressures to conform to what you think they should be. The results may show up in an alienation of affection, or a lack of being able to live together. You still love the person, but inexplicably, don’t want them to touch you. You shy away when they touch you. Perhaps just ten minutes before, your spouse told you that “You are something. I can’t stand to look at you.” Then ten minutes later, your partner wants to sit on your lap. Do you notice a bizarre pattern of love and hate? What allows you to continue in your relationship without mental or physical abuse is patience?
THE FIFTH GIFT
Kindness is the fifth gift you will share with one another. Kindness means you can control yourself when faced with a stressful situation.
Your Fifth Meeting
Anticipation is the key to renewing relationships.
Being kind to your spouse is a gift. Being kind means that you anticipate the needs of each other. For example, when you bring home TCBY treats, and your wife says, “You didn’t have to do that. That is so thoughtful!” You can say, “I know I don’t have to do it, but that is what love is all about.” Central to understanding kindness is realizing the needs of your spouse, your family, and even those with whom you have no ties of direct relationship. Our model is The Master. He does not know us, yet he gave up his life so that we might join the Father in Heaven. That is unconditional kindness! That is unconditional love! What does God get out of the relationship with us? God is pleased when we humans discover how his creation makes sense, and how we fit into it. We fit into God’s plan, not the other way around, don’t you think? God anticipated our needs by sending his only Son, The Master. Read Philippians 2:5-12.
you are kind,
because of the kindness that God has bestowed on us, you can take everything
you do and think to Heaven with you. You have linked the Kingdom
of Heaven on earth with the one in Heaven.
THE SIXTH GIFT
Goodness is the sixth gift you will share with one another. Goodness is the gift from God that enables you to view your partner with fresh eyes.
spouse and your family. Goodness creates a ripple effect. It permeates your thinking, helping you maintain your Center.
Your Sixth Meeting
Walk with each other towards a common goal.
Being good to your spouse is a gift. Goodness exists in the eye of the beholder. There is a saying about communications from St. Thomas Aquinas that goes, “Whatever is received, is received according to the disposition of the recipient.” Applied to goodness as a gift from God to you both, it means you must determine what goodness is. You can only do that by communicating with each other about the deepest parts of your feelings. You can only communication your deepest feelings when you face each other. Being legally married, but mentally and spiritually divorced means you DO NOT face each other. You go along in life as though you and your spouse are going in opposite directions. When you use the gift of goodness, you communicate to your spouse that you want to walk with him or her towards the goal of eternal life together, and not go in opposite directions. Your path in life is different from your spouse. You can choose to walk in the same direction, hopefully, to share your centers with each other. Goodness helps you to learn from each other. A good heart can see the footprints of God.
THE SEVENTH GIFT
Trustfulness is the seventh gift you will share with one another. Trustfulness is the gift from God that enables you to relax, knowing that your spouse is truthful.
Your Seventh Meeting
Trust means you believe that your spouse will keep their promise to you.
Trustfulness in a relationship means you believe that the words to you from someone else are true. Your marriage vows are not just a pledge for the moment, but the basis for a contract. You pledge to be faithful to each other, to help each other in sickness and in health, until death due you part. Being legally married, but mentally and spiritually divorced is a death of sorts, the slow death of a relationship. You can live together in this state of death, but why would you want to do so? Some spouses make an accommodation that they lead separate lives, which means they have other sexual experiences outside of their marriage contract. They can rationalize that they can’t have sexual intercourse or romance inside their relationship, so they will get it from people outside of their legal marriage. Remember the story of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy? If you are trustworthy inside side your relationship, then you will be truthful with other external relationships. God trusts you to be truthful with yourselves and not experiment with other primary relationships. You can love other men and women, but not in the same way as your spouse.
THE EIGHTH GIFT
Gentleness is the eighth gift you will share with one another. Gentleness is the gift from God that enables you to respect your spouse and family members.
Your Eighth Meeting
Gentleness is a sensitivity to how your partner feels.
Forgiveness is intimately bound up with relationship. We are bid to forgive others as God forgives us. Gentle- ness comes from a willingness to be sensitive to how your partner feels.
Carline had a mental dysfunction which caused her to rage uncontrollably when certain topics were brought up, such as her husband’s weight, or their finances. Carline and her husband, Josh, were polar opposites, when it came to an agreement on most subjects. Josh knew that Carline had problems controlling her temper, but he thought he could control herself. He was wrong. Josh was a gentle man, slow to anger and quick to forgive. Carline was a thoughtful person on the surface, but her dark side could pop up at any time, especially when the hot button topics were raised. For twenty years of marriage, Josh stayed married to Carline, He survived by walking away when she was screaming at him. When he returned five minutes later, it was as though Carline was a different person. He used his gentleness as a strength to help make peace.
THE NINTH GIFT
Self-control is the ninth gift you will share with one another. Self-control is the gift from God that enables you to love each other unconditionally.
Your Ninth Meeting
Self-control means you desire to give your spouse as
much physical, mental, and spiritual pleasure as possible.
Here are some ideas that will challenge your assumptions about controlling your sexual urges. Think of self- control as focusing your attention span, so that you give your spouse the most intense physical pleasure within your power to perform. This is not only the act of intercourse, but, more importantly, the infinite range of sexual and emotional experiences tied to sexual feelings. Explore together what these feeling mean. It is another way of saying that you not only face each other, but also control your urge to do less than your maximum efforts, when giving your partner sexual stimulation. The same idea goes for mental, as well as spiritual intimacy. By now, you may have seen a pattern emerging. Two people who face each other will not be legally married, but mentally and spiritually divorced. They may have difficulties, but they care for each other. Sexual intercourse is not the purpose of life. You can live without sexual intercourse, but you cannot exist without sexual intimacy. Do you see the difference? A spiritual person is not one who denies sexuality but seeks to fulfill their partner without limits.
THE TENTH GIFT
FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY
Food for the journey is the tenth gift you will share with one another. This food is the gift from God that enables you to sustain your relationship through times of famine and spiritual depression.
Your Tenth Meeting
Where can you find the spiritual food come down from Heaven?
Ask each other where you can find this spiritual food that will sustain you in your common relationship and provide you with nourishment for the journey to
you, although you may not see it. Read John 6:52-58.
If you are parents, do you not feed your children and provide for them? If you are parents, do you not show your children
what will nourish
their bodies, just a mother polar bear teaches her cubs to hunt? Food nourishes the body and makes it strong. Without some form of food, you will surely die. Spiritual food, which is God’s own energy and power, nourishes your spirit. Without this food, your spiritual
life will surely die. The Holy Spirit is the energy, or pure love, between The Father and The Master, His Son. You can share in that pure-energy, but only to the extent that you prepare yourself through
faith, hope, and love. Spiritual faith is the heart that pumps God’s own life-giving blood through your veins. You can have faith as to move mountains, but if you do not have love, your spiritual muscles atrophy. Read I Corinthians 13. You must eat to grow. You must grow to get to Heaven.
230 The Twelve Gifts of Relationship
THE ELEVENTH GIFT
DRINK FOR THE JOURNEY
Drink is the eleventh gift you will share with one another. The spiritual drink is the gift from God that enables you to receive God’s own energy.
The Twelve Gifts of Relationship
Your Eleventh Meeting
You need a spiritual drink to sustain your relationship,
not only with God but with each other.
You need spiritual drink to sustain your relationship with God. You need spiritual drink to refresh tired re- lationship with your spouse and your family. Spiritual drink take the appearance of ordinary looking wine at Eucharist. As part of the bigger picture, it is the very life’s blood of the Master, made present today, every day. When you drink this blood and eat this flesh, you have life in you. We are not talking cannibalism here, as some of the nonbelievers tell you, but rather the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Just imagine! The greatest gift The Master gave to the Father was himself, to allow us to make the jump to Heaven. When we join with that same Master, we too can approach the Father with that same gift from the Son. This gift is without time or space since it exists in Heaven. Humans cannot approach the Father directly. The brilliance of that pure energy would fry our puny minds. We tag along, so to speak, with The Master. Read John 17. We are destined to be with God in Heaven.
Spiritual drink allows you to exist in the presence
of pure energy, and pure love…Forever.
THE TWELFTH GIFT
FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY
The virtues of faith, hope, and love are the twelfth gift you will share with one another. Faith, hope, and love are gifts from God that provide you with the core principles for helping each other get to Heaven.
Your Twelfth Meeting
Faith, Hope and Love are core energies flowing from God’s own Center.
To help you help your spouse and loved ones get to Heaven, God gives us what we need for the trip. When God gives a gift, it is for a purpose. Gifts from God are pure energy, totally 100% of God’s nature. Humans re- ceive these gifts according to their individual capacity to know, love, and serve God in this life. The reward? Life with God together…Forever. Now THAT’S a gift worth having. But, it comes at a price.
FAITH-– Faith comes in two parts, as befits any relationship. First, God accepts you as his adopted son or daughter through a covenant agreement, usu- ally through a faith community. Secondly, you accept God as Father, the Son as Savior, and the Holy Spirit as Advocate.
HOPE — Hope is the trust for the future, that the words told to you by the Master are true. Others can say that there is no Heaven. You can only say, “I hope so!” Remember, this is not human faith, but the gift of Hope that comes from sharing God’s life. You must have Faith, to have Hope. You must have Charity to show love.
LOVE — Love is the product of faith and the recogni- tion that you hope in the Master’s
promise. Read that promise in John 11:25-26.
FIVE QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK YOURSELVES AND, OF COURSE, ANSWER