Today Christo and I celebrate 35 years of marriage – no, 35 years of a joy filled marriage to keep it T.o.B ish!
This is more an ode to my wonderful husband.
Some ask what I regret the most? Was it that I got married too young (20yrs old)? Never completed a formal degree? Had a ‘large’ family of four? Spent my whole life bringing up a family? Being with the same man for so long ( yes, I’ve been asked this!!)
Regrets? Of course marrying young has its pro’s and cons but thinking about it, I wonder if age has anything to do with it at all! Not having a degree? I think I am more happy doing what I do than most of my age-group who qualified in some profession or other. Being with the same man? I don’t think I would’ve coped with more than one (lol)! My ‘large’ family of four children has been nothing else but a blessing – why were we spared the harsher, more difficult problems of puberty? I don’t have an answer. I’d like to think all our good fortune and happiness is because of the wonderful, special, patient, loving, kind person that I am but haha I’ve done enough self-introspection and self- analysis to know otherwise and that none of the above is relevant in reflecting on why our marriage has been amazing not-withstanding the normal arguments and disagreements (my 15yr old daughter likes to call them “heated discussions”) that all marriages suffer – oh believe me, we’ve had many of those! And yes, I’m not perfect and nor is Christo!
So what is it then? This is something I’ve been reflecting on this past weekend.
I have to say that it is because I know I am loved – loved in the true sense of the word by someone with whom I set out on this journey 35 odd years ago. Christo has loved me from the day we met, and still loves me 35yrs on, warts, wrinkles, (extra) weight and all, unconditionally and selflessly! And I still know it! I know and believe in my heart, that he loves me for me, not for anything else! True to his marriage vows, he has always remained faithful and given me the freedom and encouragement to be who I am. He has allowed me to receive and accept his selfless love by holding nothing back and in one word, he has taught me all about love. His faithful love of God and the Church, from the time I met him, has always been a source of his strength to love, provide, lead and protect his wife and his family.
This is all husbands are asked to do: “husbands LOVE your wives just as Christ loved the Church and laid down his life” Eph5:25. This one sentence could be a whole week’s meditation and reflection. How did Christ love the church and how can husbands emulate this?
What about me then? Well of course I have also always loved Christo but as the years have gone on, and love has ‘matured’, I’ve come to understand the Sacramentality of Marriage and God’s intention for marriage (through T.O.B of course). I have come to realise that because of Christo’s gentle, selfless love for me, I am able and willing to ‘submit’ (Eph 5:22) to his love so that together we attempt to reflect True Love. Not easy because God’s love is perfect and we are mere mortals, but certainly we try and without Him, know it is impossible.
Our four children have been the fruit of our love for one another and here again, Christo has never put the children before me. I remember many occasions where they would be admonished for the cheek that came out of their mouths and directed at me. He would say something like: “Hey, don’t talk to my wife like that. Apologise please”. Although something small, I believe this has given my married children today, the knowledge that their spouses are important and after God, should take number one priority in their affections.
For our family this quote has held true : “the best gift a father can give his children, is to love their mother”
So back to the first question: do I have any regrets? My only regret is that we were not sacramentally prepared for marriage. It is by the Grace of God and the wonderful example of Christo, true to Christ and His word and habitual prayers in the home, that our marriage has survived satan’s attack to destroy all that reflects the inner life of God and His love.
About Marie-Anne te Brake
Happily married to Christo for 36yrs, mother of 4, grandmother of 3. Enthusiastic Catholic, Lay Counselor, Sexuality Educator, Theology of the Body enthusiast and Chairperson of Foundation for the Person and the Family