I got married a few months back and I think, no I know, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. (Okay, so it has been 20 years, but it doesn’t feel possible that it was that long ago.) As corny as it may be to use a movie line to describe my marital relationship, I’m going to do it anyway because I can identify some simple wisdom behind Jack Nicholson’s line in As Good as It Gets when he tells Helen Hunt’s character, “You make me want to be a better man.” You see, I truly want to be a better man, but I don’t believe that feeling is innately generated within me; it’s really my wife who has inspired me into thinking that way.

The curious thing is that I believe my wife feels the same way, well maybe just the opposite; I think I might make her want to be a better woman. We have been incredibly blessed by the grace we received on our wedding day and continue to receive as we live out this sacrament together. It’s a beautiful thing and we couldn’t be more joyous about our life together.

Now, every moment of our lives together has not been bliss, for that would be a silly claim. We’ve faced tough challenges, bumped heads, felt disappointment, and cried tears of sadness together. While the happy and exciting times have been wonderful to celebrate together, we definitely owe the challenging times more for bringing us closer together. Maybe the most beautiful part of our relationship has been that as we have grown closer together, we each have also grown closer to God in our personal relationships with Him.    

Every now and then I actually stop and think about my marriage and how fortunate I am that God blessed my wife and me in this way. We wake up each day knowing that we have our greatest ally, best friend, sincerest critic, stoutest supporter, and genuine inspiration alongside us for whatever the day brings, the exciting and the mundane. More than that though, as we have been willing to be the other’s half in this life, we have found ourselves more open to God and the path He wants us to follow. Our marriage is our true vocation and by honoring it and allowing God to lead us in it, we better recognize His presence in our lives and the love He has for us.

If you had asked me 20 years ago about what my life would be like today, my craziest guess wouldn’t be close to my current reality. Yet, I treasure this reality more than any dream I could have invented back then. God knows better than I do and I am so thankful that He put this woman into my life and gave us the gift of marriage to aid us in understanding what it is He desires from us. For it is when following His will that I find true joy in this life and am better equipped to focus on eternity. If my wife and I faithfully follow God’s lead and are able to help each other to heaven, that is truly as good as it gets.

  • jeddrich

    I can’t relate, never having known a relationship even remotely like this, living an exclusively single life for decades (not in a religious vocation either). Oh, well….

    • Phil Alcoceli

      Jeddrich, dear brother in the Faith, I can relate to you as I lived long years like you before I had any committed relationship. In my personal case, I had issues that needed resolution and shyness was one of them. A neighbor lady who became my Catholic spiritual mother showed me the way out of all that: be a Catholic gift to others and lead them to Heaven. Just check the title of this article here: “My Marriage Is A Gift”. It makes you feel like a sad kid in Christmas Day with no gift surrounded by everyone else enjoying their gifts, doesn’t it? But the title here is, again, the key: be a holy, Heaven set, Catholic gift to others. Let True Catholic Teaching, the Saints and mature, uncompromising Catholics guide you on this.

      This whole business of friendships, relationships, marriage, married sex, children, etc. is about being a gift to others and leading them to Heaven, as the author here mentions as well. When still single, through dedicated ministry and also just godly, daily giving of myself everywhere, I replaced the so-called sexual tension with holy fraternity and I was welcome everywhere. I still had to be vigilant and prudent (and so do we all) but being close to any sister in the Faith or any woman with this holy attitude of being a gift to her to lead her to Heaven, in humility, respect and simplicity, made me feel very strongly “motivated to be a better man” like nothing else on this Earth, as the author here says. It’s an amazing soul to soul connection and empowerment that no cheap sin can ever give you. There are no limits to the most real, ultra-highest love when you become a Heaven Leading Gift to others.

  • Bob Ewald

    I’ve been married for over 32 years. Everything you say here is truer than you think or will realize down the road. My wife and I just completed a marriage therapy/encounter program to reinvigorate/rediscover marriage in the empty-nest stage of life we’ve just entered. And the blessing of God in His sacrament has never been more apparent.