By By Rev. Fr. Rommel M. Arcilla
“Do You Accept?” or “Do You Love?”
posted 12-Jul-2019  ·  
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I was confronted with a question regarding the Rite of Marriage in the Catholic Church, especially on that life-changing question to both the husband and wife which says: “Do you accept this man or woman to be your lawful husband or wife, according to the Rite of our Holy Mother, the Church?” I was asked; “Why is it that the word LOVE was never used in that marriage rite?” I was taken aback by this question but I felt the need to defend the rite which I use in solemnizing those countless marriages since my ordination. I know and I’m sure that the Church can never be wrong in choosing those exact and meaningful words in this unifying grace of marriage between a man and a woman.

Loving someone would usually start with appreciation of that someone and eventually discover more of his or her innate goodness and qualities. In the process of this awakening in a relationship, true love can emerge and a joyous family can be raised. We see a lot of lovely couples with equally lovely children and they seemed to be living images of that “and they lived happily ever after” fairy tales. But, some of them ended up in misery. They loved one another, no doubt, but mere human love is not a guarantee of the success of this lifetime commitment to live as husband and wife.

Man and woman were created to complement each other and never to compete with each other. There were marriages where the wife earns more than what her husband can take home. Even considering that this is favorable for the family in financial terms, this must never be a reason for the woman to take on herself those roles that are confined to the man. She can never be the father of the family, and the father is the one who is supposed to provide for his family. The woman can be rightfully successful in her own world, given all the talents and abilities that she’s gifted with, but she must not look down on her husband because he’s just an ordinary employee with a minimal income, especially in front of their children.

A woman endowed with a very strong and dynamic personality, for example, cannot appropriate to herself everything about family matters even if her husband has the opposite personality much less has far lower income than her. The temptation would surely be that, in her dynamism, she might think that she’s the one pulling the strings in every aspect of their family life. Worse, even if her husband gives up on their marriage for one reason or another, she might be tempted to claim that life can and must go on even without him because, for the longest time, she had this conviction that it was only she who mattered in their marriage. This is true even if the husband manifests in their marriage his being unminding and irresponsible to their family.

The only sad thing in that kind of story is that, confronted by the subsequent self-searching for the reason of the break-up of their marriage, a woman might look for one outside of herself. In this train of thought however, one can say that the woman’s fault was blatant, because she failed to let the man whom she had accepted in marriage to be the father to her children. It was her fault because in her efforts to give a good life to her children, she buried the life of her husband beyond the appreciation of her children. As a father, her husband may have dreamt of buying little gifts to his children, but it was never appreciated as compared to the signature and more valuable toys coming from their mother. This woman believed in herself so much that she even arrived at the point of playing-father to her children when the actual father was there all along.

The father, on the other hand, may have reached the point of feeling that he is nothing to his family, and so he decided to leave and find a new life outside, where he may regain his personality as a father. But, it was also his fault because of his failure to assert himself as the father, who was deemed to be the head of the family. It was his fault for allowing his wife to do everything for the family and everything at all that it included even those roles and obligations that are supposed to be for him. Maybe he thought only of his own convenience so he let things pass him by not realizing that this process can slowly kill him as a father. The lyrics of the song of the Carpenters entitled “Love Me for What I Am” fits this kind of a father, and it says: “And if you’re only using me to feed your family (it’s fantasy, of course), you’re really not in love so let me go, I must be free.”

Both the father and the mother may have fulfilled their unmet needs, but then again, their children were the ones made to suffer the consequences of their inability and failure to accept one another as to who they really are.

“Do You Love…?” Yes, I do but I know that I can only love other people for as long as I see all those lovely things that I learned to appreciate in him or her. Human love has its own limitations because the sad truth is that we are only capable of loving those people who can love and give us all that we need and more than that. When all these beautiful things that we initially hoped to find in a person is not actually there, love then starts to fade away.

“Do You Accept…? Yes, I do and I must be ready to accept all the challenges and even obstacles that may arise along the way because accepting a person into my life would mean accepting him or her with all the niceties and even those negativities in that person. I would know that my acceptance of him or her will bear fruit in the person of our would-be children, and for them, I must be ready to sacrifice a lot even my very self so that they may have life.

After my encountering countless troubled women who asked for my advice, now I know that I am in a better position to help married couples and those who are just planning to tie the knot because I realized that marriage is truly a very noble vocation when every man and woman in marriage is invited to lose his or her very self so that their children will have their life in normal circumstances and learn the value of self-sacrifice by the life of their parents.

Becoming a father or a mother is an obligation and not mere role-playing for the world to see. It is an obligation to care for those children whom God has entrusted to your care no matter what the consequences would be. Becoming parents is also the time for both man and woman to set their priorities, no longer centered on their individual selves, but to their children. Acceptance of one another takes a long process and it is, indeed, a sacrifice. It can mean giving our very life, but for as long as we are able to hold on to until the end in loving and caring for our children, then, you have just succeeded in becoming a Christian parent!

How I wish that married couples and, especially those who are just planning to enter into marriage, must learn first how to agree on important terms as regards the roles and obligations that they are about to take on. It may be so challenging for both parties, the man and the woman, but you are called to be brave and courageous in the name of your love, not only for one another, but for those children whom God will entrust you with in the future. Invite God in your married life and don’t trust too much in your talents and abilities because we all need Him as we walk on this journey called life.

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