Like so many men, for many years I too found it nearly impossible to be faithful to one woman. Inasmuch as much as I knew, intellectually, and out of a basic sense of reciprocity, that I should be faithful – I simply found the practice impossible. I would try my best, and for a year or for months at a time I would be successful, but eventually, I would fall back into the sins of fornication and adultery.
The Reason Why We Fail
I have found it to be absolutely true, that if we as men are failing loving God with our entire mind, our entire body, our entire soul, and our entire strength, then it is going to be impossible to love our woman our total self as well. Or if we are being disloyal to God by worshiping things of this world, then we aren’t going to be able to loyal to our woman with complete loyalty either. Or if we cannot find the time to spend with God in prayer then how do we expect to find time to spend with our woman and family? There is an order to being successful in all things, and it begins by putting our relationship with God first. “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
I am not saying that those of us who are in a healthy relationship with God won’t fall into temptation. No, but what I am saying is that it is impossible to get the second thing right if the first thing is all jacked up. We cannot love our spouse right if we are loving God wrong, more than we can boil eggs in cold water. First things first.
The Divine Beauty of Monogamous Relationship
The Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the cosmic pinnacle of a monogamous relationship. The Father being pure Holy Love desires nothing but to share all of Himself all of the time. It was this divine magnanimity that brought forth God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, in the distinct person of Jesus the Messiah, who is one in being with the Father. He being everything like His Father also desires to give all of Himself away, and out of His divine magnanimity, all things were made. When God breathes it is creative Spirit, and it is this same breath that the Father exhales that the Son inhales and breathes out again. Because the Father and the Son give all of themselves away at all times, the breath they breathe is a person just like them and equal in Holiness and Love. We call that breath of God the Holy Spirit.
- “He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'” (Matthew 19:4-5).
Indeed the mutual self-giving of the Triune God is reflected in marriage, as one man and one woman give all of themselves to each other – holding nothing back. As God became more to love, man and wife become one to love. In other words, God, who is one, condescends to the many so that He can become one with the many, and, in contrast, we who are many, ascend to God so that the many can become one with Him. For this reason we know that polygamy is not of God; for, man cannot become one with more than one woman at a time – he cannot give all of himself to more than one woman at a time, no more than a woman can become one with or give all of herself (mentally or physically) away to more than one man at a time.
Through the grace present within the Sacrament of Marriage man and woman are constantly being reconciled to each other while they are simultaneously being reconciled to God. That is, while the grace of God is making them one with each other it is simultaneously making them one their Creator. The Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony are the only Sacraments through which God makes a new creation – a new thing out of an old thing.
How God Prepares us for Faithful Relationship
There are so many ways in which God prepares us to enter into a healthy relationship with our spouse that I don’t have the space to list them all here, so I would like to bulk all of them into these three categories: (1) Vulnerable, (2) Discipleship, and (3) Vesselhood.
Vulnerability is an essential grace and disposition in all relationships. It allows us to be open to the possibility of love; to being loving and giving love. Vulnerability also opens us up to the possibility of being hurt. We all have baggage and pain from various experiences and that stuff hinders the health of relationships with others when we bring that old garbage into it. Vulnerability is the grace that allows us to walk away from the past so that we will be open to the future.
Love desires the best for other at all times, and what healthy relationship with God teaches us is that, being vulnerable means that we must trust that our spouse desires the best for us. And we learn that essential truth through prayer to God. That is, I have to trust (be vulnerable to the fact) that God desires the best for me because He loves me. Once we learn that trust is the fuel that powers vulnerability and being open to love, then we can give and receive love to and from God and our spouse as we ought.
In Discipleship we become one with God and spouse by learning who they are. Discipleship is essentially an apprenticeship, and for this reason, the Disciples of Christ went to go live with Jesus; not only to learn the craft of the Master but also to study His ways – how He lived – how He negotiated and governed His day. Just as we become one with Jesus by taking up our cross and following Him to Mt. Calvary, so do we become one with our spouse by learning what their crosses are and helping them carry them – being a Simon of Cyrene to them.
Vesselhood teaches us that God is the source of all things and that He fills us up with whatever He desires and pours us out on whoever or whatever He so pleases for His glory. In the same way, we must be vessels of sustenance for our spouse – be a wellspring of whatever they need to get through the day. The most important thing about being a vessel is learning how to be available. Again, if I cannot be available to be used by God, then I am not going to be available for my spouse when she needs me either. First things first.
If you truly desire to see the face of God, then love the one you are with as Christ loved the Church – love that person with every fiber of your being and with every measure of sacrifice. If both of you do that, what you will discover is the same thing that God has known from the very beginning – that giving all of yourself away does not cost a thing.