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Title: Die Ehe als Berufung leben (2. Teil)
Author(s): DEMMER, Klaus
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 2    Issue: 2   Date: Autumn 1996   
Pages: 120-141
DOI: 10.2143/INT.2.2.2014848

Abstract :
Living Marriage as a Vocation (II.)
The success of a marriage depends to a considerable degree on the right preparation for it. This starts with the example received from the parents at home, and requires at its conclusion a marriage catechetics spread over a longer period, a sort of marriage catechumenate. Its purpose is to practise fundamental attitudes for life and a way of treating each other that from the beginning takes the otherness of the partner as self-evident. Within this framework of probation, which has nothing to do with experimentation, the discussion of premarital sex should also find its place. In this context the Church has the task to create spaces within which young people can feel at home with the total range of their experiences; if this is the case, they are also more likely to listen to moral demands. In view of the prevailing openness with regard to sexuality, there is even a good chance, that through a down-to-earth self-assessment they may more easily detect the danger of rampant licentiousness, and this could help them in their enormous task of shaping the expression of their intimacy. For this the partners should develop and practise a culture of ongoing dialogue, in which they make room for mutual trust, but also for the mutual acceptance of demands, and one of these could be the promise to abstain from premarital sex. The insight into the limits of one’s own strength and the undivided esteem for the partner can make it seem necessary to reach clear agreements in order to safeguard each other’s freedom and vulnerability. After all, it is also a question of cultivating the inner world of thought, in order to hold out the prospect of a common life history as a spiritual adventure, in deep respect for each other and with the courage to understand each other.
The history of a marriage can be compared to a learning process. Under the impulse and guidance of the Spirit, a couple enters into God’s unfathomable mystery. It is a hazardous undertaking, and the courage to start on it can only come from an unlimited confidence in the trustworthiness of the partner. Clearly defined principles, compelling ideals, or deeply felt desires, can be a help in the daily routine of married life. But also a dialogue of faith and prayer can help the couple to satisfy themselves that they still follow the law they have accepted. People who understand their marriage as a mutually justified pilgrimage to eternity, also feel the need to render an account to each other, and to make a new start if necessary. After all, a marriage characterized by a spiritual life-style requires clearly defined options: listening to each other and taking other people’s needs into account necessarily have an impact in the community and can break through hardened attitudes.
The decision to marry is a choice for life, which opens up a series of human fields of realisation. To these belong: growth in mutual faithfulness, solidarity especially in situations of conflict and suffering, and absolute truthfulness and sincerity towards one another. But also the art of growing old together has to be learned, through which the partners allow each other different stages of development. At the end of the day also sexuality needs to be characterized by friendship and esteem for one another.
The burdens of the daily routine and the indifference of the social environment have at times a paralysing effect, making the distance between the ideal of marriage and its reality seem frightening. All the greater therefore the need for competent “dialogue partners” in order to stave off failure: lay theologians and mature married couples, but also non-married persons could make their specific contribution here. And there is something else: marriage lived as a vocation is alive only in the measure in which it manages to find a place in the public life of the Church, opening itself to the weakest members of the community. Only those who generously share the undeserved gift of their love with others, can keep their own love alive. In the end it is a question of viewing in Christian resignation and hope the timespan of one’s marriage as the promise and the opportunity of a fulfilled life.

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