Recently I talked to a husband and wife who have a great marriage and a great family. Both have two full time jobs and the husband, to earn a few extra dollars, works as a part time security guard. At then end of the week both are exhausted. I asked them what was the most difficult part of their married life, their family life. The answer surprised me. I thought it would be the cost of their educational bills, the physical cost on themselves. These weren’t even a consideration. The biggest fear they had was considering that time for communication was limited, that time for socializing was quite restricted and the biggest fear was that they would fall into the rut of taking each other for granted. And anyone who has done any marriage counseling knows that one of the great emotional sins committed in a marriage is taking the other for granted.
Apathy or taking each other for granted causes tremendous damage in any relationship. The person who takes God for granted will never grow spiritually. The person who takes his spouse or children for granted will cause great damage in a family setting. Apathy, when it is operative, effects the substantial communication that should exist with all the members of the family. If apathy is prevalent in a home and family setting the opportunities for great sensitivity to each other are lessened. All of us periodically worry about the diseases like cancer and heart attack that can cause so much devastation in a family life. In many ways apathy that corrodes relationships, apathy that lessens the tendency to show love and compassion, is a terrible emotional disease in a family setting.
All of us know that despite the euphoric news about the stock market, the low unemployment rate, the powerful and strong economy of our country that many couples and families are having a lot of difficulty just making ends meet. It is hard to explain to young couples who have grown up in a climate of divorce and they know that about 50% of today’s marriages fail, it is hard to have them believe that marriage is forever. And we all know the teachings of Christ.
Marriage in every age has always been difficult. It is one of the most beautiful vocations and at the same time one of the hardest. Apathy, the taking of the other for granted, makes it that much more difficult. Keeping the lines of communication open when you have jobs that drain all your energies, having each member of your family know that you are, despite being exhausted, always sensitive to their wants and needs are hard to fulfill with the schedule that most couples have today. But if apathy becomes a way of life in a marriage, or family life, it can be corrosive and destructive to personal growth and family growth.
No matter how busy parents might be, if a serious epidemic broke out in their neighborhood, they would do everything to eradicate it. In marriage and in family life, apathy has to be considered a virus that, if not eradicated, can be devastating to the serenity and peace of the family.
In a relationship such as marriage, there can be expected that arguments and disagreements will occur living together day after day as beautiful as it might be in our romantic reflections, can be filled with moments of anything from impatience to frustration of different varieties.
But no job, no career, no excuse is justifiable to allow apathy to make any intrusion in our life, our marriage, our family.
Anyone can line up all the sad statistics about marriages that have failed. Forecasters can predict what sad failures might be ahead for those entering marriage. But your marriage, if you make every effort to make sure that apathy never grows or festers, your marriage can be beautiful and happy and serene.
It is very easy to simplify why certain marriages succeed and others fail. And that is all it is, a simplification. When you analyze the marriage that are growing stronger with each day, it is easy to see that charity and compassion, humor and sensitivity are ever present. There is a certain degree of spirituality between husband and wife and children. It just did not happen. The family worked to make the home environment a happy one. In marriages of this kind, you soon see that no one ever took the other for granted.
You are inclined to take your hats off to those who work the long hours to meet all the obligations of their family life style. But you have even a greater admiration for those with their busy schedule, who never let apathy, even in the smallest degree, infect their relationship with God or each other.
copyright © 1998-2005, Spirituality for Today