‘Honey Moon, Keep a Shining in June’
“Honey moon, keep a-shinin’ in June” are lyrics from an old love song our great-grandparents sang. The musical sentiment advised us that the month of June is a great time to rekindle the passion of honeymoon days. So, how’s that going at your house?
It is the season of weddings, and many of us are dressing up on Saturday night to witness a young couple take vows to love and cherish each other for richer or poorer and in sickness and health. As we watch, we cannot help but remember our own wedding day and all that has happened since. In our family, we could count on certain friends to make their call early on the success of the match by the wedding gift they gave the young couple. If Dick and Roseanne gave you a silver platter, the marriage would last forever; if you received the electric alarm clock, one of you could use it after the divorce. We loved to casually watch when that gift was opened!
Each of us had one amazing wedding day, a glorious day that seemed picture perfect. We never looked more beautiful, more handsome. Everyone we loved gathered around as we proclaimed our love and devotion. God poured out sacramental grace on the union, and we were off to the races. But, if we are really blessed, we had one wedding, and we will have seven marriages.
Psychologists tell us that throughout the life of a marriage, there will be at least seven times when we look at that person lying next to us in that big old bed and say, “What was I thinking?” That gorgeous woman in her little black dress could dance until dawn. Now, she wears sweatpants and a hoodie and answers to “Mommy.” And that good-looking man who loved romantic evenings in front of a roaring fire is now surgically attached to his recliner while watching reruns of the 1996 World Series.
Relationships change and what was is no more. What sacramental marriage promises is that each time our beloved changes and seems unlovable, we are not alone. For it wasn’t just the two of us making a promise, we invited God into the union…and now there are three of us. Each time we feel the fire of love dying, we have two options: we can hire a lawyer and walk away declaring irreconcilable differences. Or, we can start to learn to love this new person and rediscover with the help of God what it was that first brought us to love. And believe me, when we ask God to get involved, He can work miracles. He is the divine potter who destroys the old pot, crushes it, adds water, and fashions a brand new and better pot. This is painful, however, and requires both partners to choose to make this fresh start.
There are ways to keep those home fires burning. The care and maintenance of a marriage requires being tuned into the little things that remind each of you that love is a renewable resource. In the language of the Divine Potter, showing the love you feel is the water poured on the dry clay.
Here are a few of those little things that can recreate your love: Plan a weekly date night just like those of your courtship days. Complete a task that normally is your partner’s job and do it quietly without boasting as a sign of your care (clean the inside of his car, do a load of laundry for her, rise early and tend the kids while your beloved sleeps in). Notice something about your partner’s appearance that you love and tell her/him so (“that blue shirt brings out the color in your eyes,” “your hair looks beautiful tonight”). Respond to anger with love. When your spouse screams and yells, don’t react. Gather your strength and respond with loving, gentle compassion. That’s freedom and power, that’s the partner you want to be. Do a chore together, learning to be a team while painting the bedroom, planting a vegetable garden, or grocery shopping. Be honest with your partner. Tell him or her the truth, and be willing to forgive and be forgiven.
These steps can be the beginning of a new marriage. That old honeymoon is still shinin’. Maybe we just forgot to look.
Hunt is a nationally recognized catechetical leader and author.