February 11, 2022

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Commit to marriage being your greatest accomplishment

Kimberly PohoveyWhen beloved actress Betty White was asked not long before her death what her greatest accomplishment was in her life, she responded “my marriage” (to the late Allen Ludden). In fact, her assistant, who was with her at her time of death, reported the very last word she uttered was “Allen.” I absolutely loved reading this.

Unfortunately, her answer may be surprising in today’s society. If posed the same question, how many of us would immediately think of our marriage? I’m going to guess most would reply something along the lines of their career, athletic or children’s accomplishments. It seems that marriage is under attack in society, but we do not have to let it affect our own. We can stand as a witness to the enduring communion of two souls.

Married love goes through many seasons. There is the passion and excitement of young love, which leaves us eagerly anticipating our future life together. The middle years find couples busily taking care of their families and juggling many tasks, but with a “we are in it together” kind of love. And the later years often are characterized by a mature love that makes couples look back on all they’ve built together and appreciate each other with a deeper, abiding love.

In between these seasons, my husband and I added one: grief. When our infant son passed away, I remember us talking to a counselor, and he shared with us some outrageous statistic about couples who lose a child. He said the experience often rips them apart and somewhere around 80% of the marriages ended in divorce. I recall him telling us that the most important decision we could make right then and there was to will ourselves to stay together and lean on one another in our grief.

As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, grief does not pass on a particular timetable and no two people grieve alike, making it even more difficult for two married people to grieve at the same time. But I also remember that Mark and I made a determined decision to stay together. We chose cement, and firmly planted our feet to stand side by side throughout the journey.

Throughout all the phases of married life, I think the key to loving your spouse is to wake up each morning intentionally deciding to do so. Let’s face it, marriage can be tough—you are in a committed relationship in which you are supposed to not only love each other, but like them, too. You are roommates when it comes to your living arrangements, you are business partners when it comes to finances, and you are sacred partners when it comes to faith and fidelity. It takes commitment to weather rough patches, disagreements and the challenges life throws your way.

Conversely, marriage can be fulfilling, comforting and full of adventure. It provides a safe haven in a storm. It offers you the opportunity to share a life and your most intimate moments with the one person who has vowed to love you for as long as you both shall live.

In the Catholic Church, we often highlight the milestone anniversaries such as 25, 50 or 70 years. As couples, however, we should celebrate every single day we choose to love each other.

So, this Valentine’s Day, be sure to tell your spouse how important your marriage is to you. And at the end of your life, hopefully, like Betty White, you will be able to say your greatest accomplishment was your marriage.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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