[Guest Post Series] Relationship Tips: #3 – Imitate Christ: Love requires us to take blows.

Guest blogger Edmund and his family.

There is an old Jewish story of a rabbi who married the naggiest of women. Day after day she tormented him with her sharp tongue. After many years, his neighbors knew his saintly patience well.

One day a woman asked, “How can you be so patient with such a wicked wife?”

“It must be God’s will,” replied the old rabbi.

“Nonsense!” gasped the woman, “How could God have willed that a holy man like you be plagued by such a scoundrel?”

“Common sense tells me so. What if my wife had married an impatient man instead? He certainly would have divorced her and ruined her life! So you can see God’s wisdom in giving her to me, who can tolerate her nagging.”

As Christ loves the Church

In Ephesians, St. Paul admonishes married men to “love your wives, even as Christ loves the Church and handed himself over for her” and asks wives to “be subordinate to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:25).

In long lasting relationships, you certainly become intimately familiar with your significant other’s imperfections, putting you on the receiving end of those imperfections. In long lasting relationships, you certainly become intimately familiar with your significant other’s faults. But if to be a husband is to love as Christ loved the Church, then love requires a martyrdom for the good of the beloved.

The Princess, the Knight and the Dragon

People in love, listen up: this isn’t your normal fairy tale. The knight needs to slay the dragon, but so does the princess. We all have dragons – impatience, laziness, selfishness – these are our faults and weaknesses. The dragon does not live outside the castle walls, but within. And Satan feeds the dragons. We do not battle flesh and blood, but the dark powers of this world (Ephesians 6:12) who have bastions within our minds screaming “MY will be done.”

The only sword heavy enough to slay the dragon is the same sword Jesus used to defeat the soldiers that scourged him – total selfless love. Just as selfless love led Jesus to the pillar he was scourged on to defeat sin, and the cross on which he trampled death. In this sign, you too shall conquer.

Scourged in Relationship

To lay down your life would be easy enough. To take a bullet or blow from an aggressor would be over in a flash. But marriage is the long haul of selfless-love. Want to lay down your life? What about taking the tearing of sarcasm? What about suffering the calm agitation of laziness or the whips of impatience? What about lovingly enduring ingratitude and lack of appreciation?

Learn from Christ. The fallen imperfections of your lover are the saving scourges of your marriage. Only by enduring them with charity, humility, and patience will you win your bride, and at the same time yourself, from the clutches of the enemy. Defeat your lover’s dragons, so you can present him/her “without spot or wrinkle…that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27)

The mystery of it all is that by winning your spouse you are winning yourself – for he who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:28) Conquer your dragons.

About the blogger: Edmund Mitchell is a Catholic youth minister with a passion for Jesus, evangelization, and rugby – especially when all three go together. For now he enjoys being a Catholic hipster, until too many people start enjoying it with him, then he’ll probably go mainstream. Edmund works in ministry with his pregnant wife (Danielle) and 5 month old (Ignatius) in Toledo, Ohio. Edmund and Danielle have been married for one year and five months. He blogs over at CatholicYouthMinister.wordpress.com and tweets at https://twitter.com/EdmundMitchell.

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Relationship Tips is a series of guest posts. Click here to read all the posts in the series.