The Sacredness and Hidden Blessings in Christian Marriage

weddingJune is a time of bountiful “I do’s.” I was a June bride, therefore I will be celebrating my wedding anniversary in the coming days with my husband Dave. When asked to write a piece for Magnificat magazine under the category of “She Pondered These Things In Her Heart” and knowing it would be about marriage and family, I decided to convey something very real–not just a warm and fuzzy kind of love story.

I wanted to be honest in my article, brutally honest. Real love doesn’t translate to bliss or “warm and fuzzy.” Sure we enjoy those moments, but indeed marriage overall requires our work. And, love hurts sometimes. Mother Teresa often professed that real love requires sacrifice and often hurts. As well,  we can’t rely on our feelings to forge ahead in our marriages. We choose to love–to give–to surrender our hearts.

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I titled my piece, “Unexpected Discovery” because I think that is what discovery often is–unexpected. We can discover something we never realized about ourselves or about our spouse as we go through the daily grind–the nitty gritty details of life where we are supposed to be working out our salvation. We can also decide to work on getting rid of a vice as well as work towards cultivating a particular virtue once we open our hearts to discovery and God’s amazing grace.

In my piece for Magnificat which is in the June 2015 issue, I recalled a sort of funny, but what started out as a bit of a frustrating experience with my dear husband. The challenge that was presented in writing it (especially for me because I love to tell stories–long stories!) was to say it in a very limited number of words (and spaces!) because an exact amount of space is calculated and permitted in which to express the message so that it will fit on to the small Magnificat page. But, no more than that–not even one additional word or space.

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Hopefully my message about sacrificial and sacramental love in marriage and family comes through. Hopefully I have expressed it in the little story I have shared. One woman who read the piece told me that she is going to put the page in a pretty photo frame and gift it to her daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law who are about to be married.

I think that is a beautiful and creative gift!

 

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May God bless all marriages everywhere in which spouses bound in their sacramental covenant are actually actively helping one another to get to heaven through thick and thin, in good times and bad, and throughout every single detail they share every ordinary day!

May I ask? Have you discovered something very unexpected while navigating the vocation of marriage with your spouse? Will you seek to discover a hidden blessing waiting to be unearthed? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

 

44 thoughts on “The Sacredness and Hidden Blessings in Christian Marriage

    • Thank you very much, Joyce! Did it strike a chord at all? Would you like to share any discoveries in the comment section? If not, no worries! Thanks for your kind words. God bless!

  1. Thanks Donna your messages are so incite full I just recently celebrated my 10th anniversary to my loving husband Jeff on May 27th thank you for all your encouraging messages! God bless!

  2. Your story about the pillow made me laugh! For my own marriage, I was so surprised when I saw my little boys having some of the very characteristics about my husband that were sometimes trying, like his perfectionism. Seeing it in them helped me be less impatient with my husband. (But then, when the little ones drive me crazy, I sometimes blame my husband! Haha! Poor guy!)

  3. DONNA AND DAVE – HAPPY AND HOLY ANNIVERSARY TO A WONDERFUL COUPLE. YOU BRING JOY TO EVERYONE.
    LOVE, BB

  4. Thank you Donna and Happy Anniversary to you and your husband! My husband and I are married 32 years and I have to say he is my best friend! I think when the trials come that is when you learn what real love is all about! It is not the mushy and romantic kind of love it is total commitment to each other knowing you will always be there for each other thru thick and thin!! Thank you again for your article and God Bless you!

    • Thank you very much for your anniversary wishes and kind words, Marie! May God continue to bless your marriage. Thank you so much for sharing! I wholeheartedly agree that authentic love is a “total commitment to each other…” God bless you!

  5. I would have thought you would have followed your own pious admonitions on EWTN and NOT wear an immodest wedding dress. Modesty is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The converse holds true, too. Are you sure that your “consent” is valid?

    • I’m surprised by your judgmental comment, Dixie (“Are you sure that your ‘consent’ is valid?”). There was nothing plunging about my dress. The seamstress who altered my dress was supposed to make a little coverlet for my shoulders and did not have it finished in time. Still, as I said, there was nothing plunging or inappropriate. God bless you.

      • Dear Donna-Marie, one of the first photos you shared with me years ago after we converged online through email was your wedding photo with your husband and kids. What a beautiful family. Having been your friend now for all those years and now, having learned even more about you through your memoir, which was told with such honesty and tenderness, I appreciate you and your journey even more. You have become even more real to me, in other words, and I love you all the more for that. Thanks for your work that brings so much insight to so many! I did want to respond to what Dixie said too. Or rather, your response to her. When you gave us the information about your seamstress not having time to finish all the parts you had planned for your dress, it just reminded me that often, we don’t know the whole story. We are quick to judge without taking time to pause and wonder, perhaps there is something more here. You’ve had a chance to explain and it makes perfect sense. The dress and the people in the photo are all beautiful. Thanks for “putting yourself out there” even though sometimes it might draw critical comments. Dear Dixie, I will keep you in my prayers. I hope you know that God has so much mercy for you, Donna-Marie and all of us human beings, his children. We are here to learn, and grow, and find our way to him, like children. We make mistakes, but he is a God of second chances, thankfully. Peace be with both of you!

        • Yes! Now I remember that we shared family photos years ago, Roxane. Thank you very much for all of your kind words. God bless you and your beautiful family!

    • Hi Dixie,
      As someone who knows Donna-Marie personally, I felt compelled to respond to your comment.
      It sounds as if you think Donna Marie is insincere and not the person she appears to be on television. I can assure you that is not the case – she’s the real deal – she’s not playing a role. There’s nothing artificial about her faith and she doesn’t talk out of both sides of her mouth. And, Dixie, why do you think her dress is immodest? It’s a beautiful dress worn by a woman who is not only beautiful outside but inside as well. By your comment, you seem to be implying that she doesn’t “practice what she preaches” – that she “talks the talk” but doesn’t “walk the walk” as they say. Please get a copy of her memoir “The Kiss of Jesus”. In this book, she relates some very real and raw details of her life that will certainly surprise you. She doesn’t put herself on a pedestal or make herself sound like a saint – she puts it all out there. She doesn’t try to cover it up or pretend that she’s lived a perfect life. The woman you see on television is the same woman in everyday life and she does “walk the walk” because she loves the Lord and is doing her best to live in a way that is pleasing to Him just as all of us who love Him are doing.
      I’m sure that your comment hurt her but because she truly is a faithful Catholic woman, I know that she has already forgiven you.

      • Thank you very much for your comment, Gail. You are very kind. And, you are right. I wholeheartedly forgive Dixie for her personal attack on me. I wish her well and I am praying for her. May God bless her!

    • Feminine beauty is a gift from God, and as a guy I still appreciate how beautiful my wife was in her wedding dress – and remains today, over 26 years and eight children later. Donna-Marie, I’m sure Dave appreciated how great you looked on your wedding day. Terrific post, thank you.

      • You are so kind, Kevin. Thank you. How wonderful that you and your beautiful wife have been married for 26 years already and have eight blessings! May God continue to bless you all!

    • Dear Dixie,
      Judgemental, much? I try hard to be compassionate and kind, as Donna-Marie always is, but I won’t meet her standards. I’m more of a “punch-a-heretic” Catholic than a “turn the other cheek” Catholic, and so I call you on the carpet for your remark, which to my mind was petty and uncalled for. By the way, what did you think of the ARTICLE??

    • I see nothing about this wedding dress that seriously violates modesty. I know many women do wish for, yet still, more modest dresses but the fact is it can be difficult to obtain an ideal dress in this day and age. My wife had a similar issue. But there is a world of difference between “perhaps didn’t 100% make the ideal mark” and “immodest”. There is nothing immodest about the dress. There is nothing sheer, plunging necklines etc.

      More over, if Donna had a previous marriage *which was annulled* by the church then she was given the greatest degree of moral certitude available in this life that her previous marriage was not valid. If for some reason the tribunal made some error that you, an internet commenter, are aware of, that would certainly not be her fault and she (and her husband) would be guilty of nothing. Before you go around accusing people of being in invalid marriages I recommend reading “Remaining in the Truth of Christ Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church”. Cardinal Burke has an excellent essay on the importance of annulment. Since the Donna and her ex-husband went through a hugely complex and probably painful process to find out whether their marriage was valid or not it can certainly be said that they have 100% fulfilled their obligations.

  6. Dear Donna-Marie, just reading this article you reminded me of what priest friend told me and my husband during a tough situation we were dealing with. That a husband leads a wife’s soul to Heaven and a wife leads her husbands soul to heaven. Thank you for the reminder. I might add how beautiful your wedding pictures are. Truly feminine and elegant. Thank you for all you do for us Catholic Women trying to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church and marriage. God Bless you and your family.

    • Thank you, Debbie. I’m glad that my article in the Magnificat magazine was a reminder. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that our role in a Christian marriage is to live our lives in such a way, practicing the virtues so that we aid our spouse to get into Heaven! And, you are so kind to compliment me on my wedding pictures. It was such a happy and blessed occasion! God bless you and your family too!

  7. Modesty as a fruit of the Holy Spirit? I thought “the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and self control. ” (Gal 5:22). Dixie, I’m surprised you focused on Donna Marie’s wedding dress (which I think is beautiful, but the way). Donna Marie’s message was how we all have to work with the gifts of the Spirit that we have been given in order for them to bear fruit. Sometimes we’re not very successful, then God reminds us (as with the plate that said “love is patient, love is kind…) When we display love, peace, patience, etc—-it shows the Holy Spirit is working in our lives. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta always taught us to reach out in love. Love never fails. God Bless.

    • Thank you for your comment here, Lindia. I wholeheartedly agree that “Love never fails.” God bless you!

  8. Thank you Donna-Marie for opening your life to your readers and sharing your wedding photos. You are absolutely beaming and so beautiful in them all. I love your dress which is not immodest at all!! Your family looked so happy to surround you in the Sacrament of Marriage. May you and Dave be blessed for years to come!

    • Thank you so very much, Toni. You are so kind. What a beautiful sacramental and joyous day it was! Looking at the pictures now brings me back and causes me to pause and thank our dear Lord for all of His blessings! Thanks so much for your warm words of blessing. May God bless you and your family too!

  9. Donna-Marie-I am perplexed by the reader (Dixie) who left her harsh comment. I know you pretty well and you are one of the most humble and modest people I know. You have always lived what you have encouraged others to do and I am grateful for your wonderful example. I love this post as it made me appreciate my own 21 year marriage to my own beautiful wife Sandra. I am blessed beyond measure!

    Your brother in Christ,

    Randy

    • Randy, my Brother in Christ, I am so thankful for your kind words. I am so glad that this post caused you to pause and appreciate your own 21 year marriage to Sandra. May God continue to bless you, Sandra, and your family!

  10. Donna, I love how you share your raw moments in your life, through appearances/speaking, television, blogs, and your books. Truly each one has been a lesson/learning experience that you have been able to use for God’s greater glory!! I have had many moments that can spiral a bit out of control with my spouse and we both have decided a few months back that when we catch ourselves doing so, to say out loud, “Saint Francis and Saint Clare, pray for us!” It somehow, has brought down the levels of emotions and we stop immediately. We tend to walk away and cool off and peace comes in. We are all a work in progress. Saints in the making 😉

    Thank you Donna for allowing God’s light to shine through you. Thank you teaching me through your actions and books how to offer up my hands and feet for our lord each day! What a testament to The church and for all it’s members.

    Dixie, your comment was not a kind nor a charitable one. I would hope and pray that you might find time to reflect on your statements.

    Donna, you are a wonderful role model for me and many others out there, and we so need you! Keep up God’s work!!!

    Love ya!
    Diane

    • Dear Diane, Thank you so much for sharing. I love that you and your husband made a commitment to pause and pray when you sense the tension or need to pray.That’s great! You are so right that we are all works in progress–saints in the making. And I’ll add that it is our job to get our spouse to heaven by our life of LOVE! Thanks also, Diane for your very kind words. May God continue to bless you and your family!

  11. Dear Donna-Marie, my Sister-in-Christ, I am sending my
    1st E-mail, to you, ever. This past August, when you were
    a guest host on Women of Grace, I watched you, speak
    about your book, “The Kiss of Jesus,”! I had never heard
    about it before this time. I had seen you, many times on
    different shows, at EWTN, over the years. This was so
    different. Your life’s journey, encountering, as well as,
    endurung, surreal, and devastating, circumstances, &
    suffering,; has led me to say; that I too, have had so very
    much, pain, and suffering in my life, & still do. All very
    sad. I have no one to share it with, as a Friend, that would
    understand,That is, not until, now! I am going to read
    your, book, & then, I would very much, be honored to
    share my thoughts of it with you, then. Your Faith, sounds
    like mine, & I know I would not be here, if it were not for
    my Catholic Faith,. I hope you receive this E-mail and
    maybe answer back! Angels, Blessings, & Prayers!
    Jeanine Marie L

    life threatrning,

    • Dear Jeanine Marie, Thank you for writing. Thank you for your kind words. I am very sorry that you have endured pain in your life but thankful that you have faith in God. May God continue to bless you. I hope that you enjoy my book “The Kiss of Jesus”! Let me know!

      God bless!
      Donna-Marie

  12. I wonder if any of you know that Dave is Donna’s third husband and that none of the 5 kids are his. Three are from marriage #1 and 2 from marriage #2. All I am asking is that you look beneath the hype. I do wish Donna all the best, however she obtains it.

    • Dear “Mairead O’Keough,” It is a bit puzzling to read your comment that, by the way, I could have refused to “approve” and allow to be on my website. I chose to “approve” your comment because I have nothing to hide. What you have stated about my husband Dave and my children is no secret. I have spoken about it, written about it, and shared it far and wide, including in my memoir. Folks also know that my two former marriages were annulled by the Catholic Church. The purpose of your comment is what is in question. Your statement, “All I am asking is that you look beneath the hype” does not seem to be very charitable to me. But, then you say that you “wish Donna all the best, however she obtains it.” Well, thank you for wishing me “all the best.” I will certainly pray for you that God will reward you the way that HE sees fit. God bless you!

      • Dear Mairead,

        First let me state that what you wrote is very unkind. First anyone who has read Donna-Marie’s Memoir ” The Kiss of Jesus knows about Donna-Marie’s previous marriages and annulments. So that to me seems like an attack on Donna-Marie’s Character which appears you are judging her! Secondly, The ” Hype” what a judgement statement for if you truly knew Donna-Marie she is nothing but humble and kind giving all Glory to God. She is one of the most selfless women I know. The Kiss of Jesus has helped countless women as well as her many other blessed books and articles. I will pray for you Mairead. God bless you.

        • I have been legally married twice. Both marriages have been annulled (no sacrament took place). I would love that God send me a Godly man i could share the rest of my life with. I am a devout Catholic who loves the Mass and my Savior. I find no “hype” in Donna’s writings. Bless you Donna for allowing such an uncharitable, misguided comment to remove any ignorance and opportunity for prayer for the woman who made them. God bless your family, abundantly.

    • Dear Mairead,
      I’m so sorry you have misunderstood anything Donna-Marie has said as, “hype.” I can see how Donna-Marie’s situation could appear hypocritical, or puzzling at the very least, if you don’t have a full understanding of Catholic marriage and annulment. Please understand that annulment is not just, “Catholic divorce,” and is not something taken up lightly or easily. I urge you to read Donna-Marie’s book, “Kiss of Jesus.” She has been through a great deal during her life and I am so thrilled for her that she has finally found love and a God-filled marriage. She’s done her best to seek God’s will in her life and, like all of us, has stumbled and fell a few times along the way. It doesn’t matter though, how often we fall. What matters is that we get up and keep going. God bless.

  13. Dear Mairead,

    Donna-Marie has been extremely open with her story. It is no secret at all. She is one of the kindest, sweetest, most sincere people, and it is cruel for you to try to undermine her credibility in the Catholic community with a piece of “gossip” that is something that she shares freely. I will be praying for you.

  14. Dear Mairead,

    Did it make you feel better to disparage Donna-Marie? She is a beautiful authentic woman. I’m sorry that you felt the need to point issues out that you thought detracted from her. Well, they don’t. It is very uncharitable and unchristian to comment this way. It is apparent that you are in need of some prayer and kindness. I hope that the readers here will pray for your heart to heal.

    • Dear Mairead,

      I hope you have had time to reflect on the insensitive comment you posted about Donna Marie and her previous marriages. It did not read as a charitable post. I’m wondering what you meant exactly by hype?
      Donna Marie is a very honest, humble woman who loves her faith and to evangelize to help us all grow on our faith journeys. She is joyful about it. If being excited to share her faith and her life story is what you meant by hype, then it makes you sound rather bitter.
      I have learnt a lot of how to be positive from her writings! I have come a long way from the way I used to be.
      Prayers for you Mairead. God Bless! Hoping you can post an apology to Donna Marie.

  15. I pray for the two women who left negative comments on your blog Donna. I feel there is no need for negativity on your blog being that you are a Godly woman spreading information about marriages. I love your wedding dress and article on the Magnificat June 2015 issue. I will look for it for keepsake. Thank you for being a wonderful role model. Judge not least you be judged. I’d like to see their wedding dresses and hear their stories. God bless you Donna. Hope I’m not offending anyone.

  16. Dear Mairead,

    I read your comment about Donna Marie. It was truly uncalled for. She has nothing to hide, she has been very a matter of fact about her life. She read a book called “The Kiss of Jesus” which she goes very much in derail about the tragic events in her life, and how she turned to God, turned to Our Lady, and the Saints. Sometimes life will throw curve balls at you, and its always for a reason. It’s in God’s plan. Only He can take something tragic in your life and use it for the better. I suggest you pick up a copy of her book and read for yourself if you have not already. In case you did not know a lot of the Saints came from a very hard or even a sinful life, not that in any way I’m saying she lived in sin. My point is if you give your hardships to Almighty God, He will use them for His glory. She could of been bitter and resentful, but instead the Lord used her hardships to bring people close to Him, he already felt every pain we go through. I pray this Lent you may take time to reflect soon your own life struggles, and ask the Lord to use them to teach you compassion, love and forgiveness toward others that may of hurt you. As for Donna Marie she is a true reflection of how God himself will take something bad, and use it for the better of people. She’s a wonderful lady and has a heart filled with love for all. Perhaps an apology to her would be nice, and knowing her she has already forgiven your smug remarks. I will pray for you. And God Bless you Donna Marie in your ministry and for your kind and forgiving heart, I know you taught me how to be more loving and caring through your kind actions.

  17. Dear Mairead,

    It seems to me that you are jealous of Donna finding a good man after all she had to go through. As Christians we should be happy for others when they have good things happen to them. I hope you will ask God to help you with that. It would be good if you would say you are sorry for commenting the way you did. I will pray for you.

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