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The Greatest Gift

by Andrea McBride

I have been married for, wow, it will be twelve years this October. It sure has its ups and downs. And it is a spiritual journey. It is a test of endurance and a lesson in how to accept yourself, your spouse, and your life circumstances and how to love unconditionally.

When I met my husband-to-be, I was twenty years old and in college. We met at the Newman Center Catholic church on campus. I had been looking for true love since I was thirteen and thought I had found it then. I was “in love” with a senior at my high school and stayed “in love” with him for four years. I was so anxious to find that person intended just for me, that I was ecstatic to find that the “in love” feelings were still there after four years. If it lasted that long, then it must be real. After knowing about my crush for the entire four years, the object of my affection finally decided to join me in this love affair. We dated for two years, were in the same country for maybe six months of that time because he was in the Navy, and broke up after I met someone else in college.

Which brings me back to when I was twenty years old in college and met my husband. I was dating this someone else who I, again, in my pursuit of the true and eternal love was trying desperately to keep the “in love” feeling and this destructive relationship going strong. I met my husband, and I believed that I clearly saw in him the characteristics I was truly looking for in a life partner.

During these twelve years that I have been married, I have grown tremendously because of my husband’s devotion and his influence. I have grown in faith and have learned how to love. During difficult times, I have focused on myself and what I feel I am getting out of the relationship instead of focusing on him and what I am giving to the relationship. To be filled up by your spouse, you need to be the filler of his soul.

During these difficult times I ask myself these questions: What if I am, as I believed without a doubt on our wedding day, married to the true love of my life? What if I am wasting time focusing on the negatives of him and of us and am at this very moment missing out on the beauty that marriage is and that God intended for both of us? Also, I know that when my husband’s mother held him when he was a little boy, she knew that he deserved to have a wife who would love and cherish him always, as she would promise him on their wedding day. I know his mother knew that because I know that of my son when I hold him in my arms.

My husband is my rock, and he is my catalyst to a deeper relationship with God. I love him with all his imperfections, and I love our marriage with all its flaws. Marriage is so much more than finding a person that has similar interests that you can spend the rest of your life with. It truly is a calling and a gift.

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