From Michael Spencer’s classic post, On Running Wounded
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Ask anyone who is married. We really are running wounded, and sometimes nothing seems more ridiculous than the proposition that we can really bring about more good than harm, or experience more love than suffering in this vulnerable relation called marriage. The reality is written in marriages every day. We celebrate their inauguration, milestones and perseverance, but who has not marveled, as you sat at an anniversary gathering, what it took to get there? What terrible price was paid to stay together? I’ve watched a spouse walk out of a hospital room after seeing their partner of fifty plus years pass on, and I wondered, how could they find the love and grace to make it this far?
We just seem too wounded for such a long run.
I’m not a pessimist about marriage in particular. I am a Biblical realist about human nature. C.S. Lewis said the story of history was like a machine built to run on one kind of fuel, but forced to use another. It runs, maybe even well, for a while. Then, it “conks.” So the highest human aspirations to love, selflessness and faithfulness seem to run well for a while, then sputter and conk. In some cases, the marriage ends, in other cases it survives in a sort of cold truce. In some instances it evolves into something truly terrible, wreaking havoc and harvesting pain for generations.
And yet, despite our fallenness, smallness, arrogance and stupidity, there are marriages that truly resemble the glory that must have existed between Adam and Eve. There are, in most marriages, glimpses of heaven, hell, and both sides of Eden. In some marriages, the glimpses of Eden prevail, and become constant. In some marriages, there is even a taste of heaven on earth in the love between two people. Scripture seems to echo this, even as it describes in many places the display of human wretchedness that marriage can become. It is far more optimistic than Genesis 3 would lead you to believe.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27
The Catechism of the Catholic church says that marriage persists, though seriously “disturbed.” O how much lies in a single word! The Catechism also says what anyone knows: Marriage, if it is to succeed, needs God’s help.