The Sweetness of Love in Crisis

Submitted by Deacon Jim Krupka

I get the impression Pope Francis likes good wine. He begins his comments about difficulties in marriage, saying that those who love are like fine wine. The daily experience of marriage gives married life its richness and “body.” The Pope was not the first churchman to make the wine/marriage comparison. St. John of the Cross said, “old lovers are tried and true.” St. John describes the experience of some long-married couples saying that they are no longer “outwardly afire with powerful emotions and impulses, but now taste the sweetness of the wine of love.”

Wine marketers like to tell stories of great wine that emerges from struggles. They speak of grapevines that endure poor soils or drought to yield exceptional fruit that brings wines rich in flavor. Some wines need the patience of aging. There is even the beauty of blending two grape varieties into a better wine than each could become on its own. I know enough about grapes, wines, and marriage to say the Pope is on good ground making the comparison.

I promise couples preparing for marriage that they will experience a cycle of romance, disillusionment and joy. Most are still in the blissful romance stage, with many imagining that they will never see disillusionment. I break that bubble. But I also offer good news. I promise that the couple who unite with God as a partner will survive anything. Working through a stage of disillusionment, they will get to the point that surpasses youthful romance.

Every family experiences crisis. Pope Francis says that every crisis is a sort of apprenticeship in growing together. He is right. Couples that are truly “one” take problems head-on. They communicate and problem-solve together. They learn to forgive as they meet challenges. They become partners that can face anything. Understanding that “stuff” happens in marriage is essential. One avenue is to put on a cloak of “martyr” when bad things happen and resign. If every couple did that, no marriage would survive. With a commitment to move ahead in sickness and health, good times and bad, marriage not only survives, it gets stronger. Church and community can help. As a couple stays close to the Church, pastoral and Catholic social service help can bring a couple in crisis through to a better place. If you are struggling in marriage, seek what the Church offers. You are not alone. There can be sweetness ahead.