Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Then Ten Commandments of Marriage


By Arthur and Teresa Beem

We have a large family by today's standards. With our own children, plus many nephews and nieces that have recently married and more who will become married in the next few years, I thought I would hand off some advice to them and their potential spouses. After all, my husband, Arthur and I began dating in 1979 and married in 1984 and so we have learned some things about how to be happily married.


As crazy as it may seem to ask that question; in today's world, it is time to go back to the basics and review what marriage actually is and what God established it for. Marriage isn't just nature working itself out. It is so much more. In fact, God told us that marriage is a profound and great mystery. God infused marriage and the family with deep symbolism that foreshadow and prophesy of who God is. The triune man, woman and child express the relationship between God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Marriage reflects the Trinity. God wanted us to learn of Him through His crowning creation of the family.

But the layers of meaning in marriage go much deeper. Marriage is a symbol of Christ and His Church. The man represents God and the woman represents His Church. Just as Christ and His Church are one flesh, the church being His Body on earth, so a man is to be one flesh with his wife. She is his body. Whole books have been written on just this very topic and the mystery of marriage is profound.

Marriage is a sacrament. That is, God instituted marriage in order to help man grow in perfection. When two Christians are joined together by God in Holy Matrimony, there is special grace given to them; marriage infuses divine graces that actually propel those people into righteousness. The selfless, sacrificial demands of marriage take us out of our narcissistic self-centeredness and through love we are to give ourselves fully to another person. Holy Matrimony is God's gift to His people draw us into and lead us to the perfection. And each spouse's first duty is to see that, through loving sacrifice and daily encouragement, their spouse makes it to heaven. That is one of the purposes of this eternal, monogamous institution. Marriage is supposed to be a saint-maker. But that vital truth has been lost in our culture of pursuing personal happiness.

Man is told to make a kingdom on earth to reflect the Kingdom of Heaven.
Into marriage, this amazing reflection of God's unity and love, something miraculous happens. Within the marital embrace, we become most like Him. From this holy union, immortal life springs! If we have the wealth to build civilizations; if we build monuments that will stand for thousands of years to honor us, there is nothing a human can achieve on earth that comes close to the divine miracle of creating a human not only in our own likeness, but in the likeness of God! Our Christian children—those precious souls who will never die, who are destined to rule heaven as kings and queens—that God privileges us to be born from our own bodies, are brought into the world through the us to form a little trinity. Life! The ultimate joy and design of marriage shows us in a very real sense who God is and His love for us.

Satan's final attack on humans will be to utterly destroy the family—man, woman and child—for it most represents the Trinity in heaven.

Create your Kingdom and bring the Kingdom of God to earth.


Statistically, almost everyone gets married, so everyone needs to be preparing for this way before they are old enough to date. Historically, all known cultures and civilizations used to prepare their children for marriage and families, but today we just assume it happens naturally. Tragically, parents focus their time and resources on preparing our children to make money instead of preparing them for something vastly more important.  

Parents: No matter how wild and irresponsible you were before marriage, you need to step up and start expecting more from your own children. No need to just assume that your child's behavior will inevitably be like yours. You are to have the courage, as parents, to be the giant shoulders your children will stand on. Don't curse your children to make the same mistakes you did. Teach your children to be faithful to the spouse they will eventually meet. Explain to them that one day they will stand before someone they love with all their hearts. They will at one point find someone they will make the vow to be faithful to them until "death do us part." 

Single people: There is no joy on earth like giving yourself to your spouse fully, without regret of having slept with anyone else. The greatest gift you could ever give your husband or wife is to have been faithful to them sexually before you ever met them. In our Sodom and Gomorrah culture of lasciviousness and wanton self-gratification, we do not see the vital need of keeping oneself for one's spouse. But if you are young, I urge you to pray and think about this important topic carefully. Be courageous. Be a hero to the one you will one day love.


One last note before we begin the Ten Commandments of marriage. I have often heard people make the grievous statement, "I think I married the wrong person." If you both are Christians, that is utterly impossible. God would never join in a holy commitment of marriage two people who He would not give the grace to be the perfect mate. Never even allow that thought to come into your head. You did not marry the wrong person. You have come up to a situation in which marriage has greatly wounded you or you feel betrayed or disillusioned. Grab your beloved and pray. Rededicate your hearts and souls and minds to God and start anew, no matter how painful or hopeless the situation. Do not despair. God has given our us marriage to heal our wounded and sinful souls. Now is the time to grasp God's promise that nothing is impossible for Him. Time for the battle of prayer to release yourself and your spouse from the grip of sin.



The bad news: marriage doesn't happen naturally and is hard work. The good news: the hard work can be fun and rewarding like climbing a mountain or getting to the Olympics or writing a novel or going on vacation. It is so worth the time, effort and sacrifice.

Take time everyday to think—not just about your marriage—about important things. Think about how to be a better person, how to be a better Christian, how your home can work better and how to be a better spouse.

Caution: Often in this step of thinking, newly-married people focus on how their spouse can change to make their lives happier. As you mature in Christ, you will focus less on how others can make you happy and begin to realize that you will only find lasting joy through giving joy to your spouse. Jimmy Durante had a song that helped remind me of this, "Make Someone Happy."

Also, when you sit down to think, try and discover how your husband or wife sees a situation. Try to see things through their perspective. And ask God to give you wisdom so that you can see better how to make your marriage glorify Him and be a blessing not only to the two of you and your children, but be a witness to the world of the relationship of Christ and His Church.

We live in a world that is glutted with entertainment and noise. Take time daily to meditate and think where it is quiet. It will make your marriage better.


Just as the church has liturgical seasons, such as Easter, where we are commanded by God to rejoice and celebrate, marriage needs these too! Find out what you both enjoy doing and do it often. It doesn't have to be expensive: cook together, watch sports, read to each other, walk or ride bikes, dance, sing.

It is normal for couples go to counseling and make time to deal with their problems, but they often forget that couples need to nurture the greatness of marriage. Life can be stressful—with student debts, misunderstandings, car troubles, taxes, health issues…. we become enslaved by our culture of money. So, having marriage holy days is vital. Keep them even when you are furious with each other.  Make a commitment that during this time frame, there will be no fights, no criticisms. It is the "safe-space" for your marriage and the rule is that you must set aside everything to just enjoy that person during this time. And, it is best to end the night with a more intimate romance. That will inspire most husbands to keep the date!

Everyone's marriage is in need of holy days (holidays) just like your career. Create marriage festivals and celebration. A time to enjoy each other.


Erase the word "divorce" from your vocabulary. It is the most dangerous word than any spoken by humankind. It is marital blasphemy.  There is no end to the ills and ruination of our society when we, as Christians, believe that it is the right thing to do to divorce. (Don't let your marriage get to the point that there is so much abuse you think divorce is the only way out. Do something to prevent it. Separation. Jail time if it is that bad.) Remember as a Catholic if God fused you as one flesh in a valid, sacramental marriage—only He can rend you asunder and believe me, He won't. He will heal your marriage, never tell you to divorce.

God made marriage. He created marriage to work. And women—know this—though both of you must be fully committed to marriage, men are designed for commitment. It deteriorates the souls and fabric of men to be only kind of committed. They must fully commit. There is no such thing as a partial launching of an attack in war. Men should be launching their hearts and commit 100% to marriage and if not your marriage will be totally overrun.

Thou shalt not quit listening. Listening is a grace and a habit that one must develop. Listen to your spouse with patience and gentleness. This is especially difficult for some men because they are made to fix a problem. So it is a sacrifice for them to slow down and use their listening skill not just to improve their careers, but their marriage.
Men need to realize women are brilliant but they think differently. Don't pander. 

Women need to spend more time listening and less time thinking about how they are going to respond to their husbands. Listening is done quietly, without interruption.

The Hard Stuff About Not Quitting: Marriage is going to hurt and sometimes hurt very badly for many years. Prepare yourself for that. You will survive it and be rewarded. However, your sufferings to stay married can be lifted up to God and miracles can occur. Do not pray for God to permanently separate you (for at times and for a short season, in serious cases, you may have to separate); rather, pray for a miracle of healing. For to make gemstones, rough rocks are placed in a tumbler and they bang against each other to bring out each other's beauty. Marriage is a saint-maker, that its point. There is no trouble, no situation, no beyond God's healing power.


The world is a rough place. A place where you might be mocked, teased, put down, cursed, laughed at, fired, misunderstood and abandoned. Home should be a place where you do not need to keep up your emotional defenses. Home should not be a place of war or even a hostile peace.

Make your own home a place where your spouse loves to go most. It is their favorite place of peace and encouragement. We often make the grave mistake of giving our best to our friends and co-workers. Do not give your best to others. Give your best at home

Speak words that uplift and not tear down. Be careful with demeaning teasing, snarkiness and sarcasm. Sarcasm often is a way of spitting out pent up rage. It may seem cute and fun for a season, but eventually it will begin to wear away at your joy. Rather than allow rage to develop, talk it out rather than allow it to boil over in sarcasm. Sometimes sarcasm doesn't have any hidden anger, but is just a person showing off how clever they are. Even that can get old after a while in a marriage.

Never, ever, ever publicly humiliate your spouse.

Don't be irritable. Decide that you won't let little things irritate you. Learn to not take yourself seriously and laugh.

Cultivate a treasure of words that uplift each other. Let your home be full of Godly encouragement. The world will oppress us. Let home be a place of warmth and grace. It is hard to live like this—it takes commitment and discipline. And to live like this is possible, but only if you stay connected to the One who gives these graces freely.


Often inside a marriage we take on roles. He is the immature one. She is the nag. I have seen many people take on the victim role, the martyrdom role, the self-righteous one, the stubborn one; there are many of these we fall into out of habit. It is very difficult to break out of a role and your spouse should help and not hinder that.

No matter how bad you were yesterday, that does not mean you cannot be a saint today. The whole point of the sacrament of marriage is that each day married people walk together they are to be more heroic.

Do not force your spouse into a role you have imagined. Sometimes women and men want to make their spouse out in the image they have in their head. God's image of who each of us should be far, far exceeds what we think we want.

Allow men to be men and women to be women. The differences are supposed to work together.


The marriage bed is holy. This means more than being faithful and not committing adultery. In our desperately wicked culture (i.e. Fifty Shades of Gray), even married people are encouraged to do sinful things, promising intense sexual gratification. Never do anything, watch anything that will cause you to regret. Always remember that God created the pleasures of sex. Do not demean it with porn. Do not demean it with sin. Stay faithful, stay trustworthy. Never do anything together that you would be ashamed (not embarrassed, but ashamed) to go public or for your children to find out. NO PORN period. Period. No matter what.

(Note: Women put away your romance movies, novels and soap operas, they will make you unhappy with real life and with your real husband. They can become women's porn! To be happy with your husband—quit filling your brain with novelists' and writers' impossible fantasies. These actually make you unsatisfied.)


First and foremost, no secrets in marriage. (Surprises for birthdays, anniversaries etc, of course, I am not speaking of.) In fact, in the Catholic Church, if you enter marriage with serious secrets, you invalidate your marriage. Secrets are the home of sin; they often lead to lies (and worse) and will destroy trust between you. If men or women wish to be respected, wish to be a person of character, do not keep secrets from your spouse. In fact, I tell my family and friends that I cannot hear secrets (within reason, of course) that I cannot tell my husband. If a family member tells me something trivial that would embarrass them if my husband knew and it doesn't in anyway concern my husband, then that is different. But if my husband would want to know or should know? Then I can't keep it from him.

Communication is a learned skill and takes enormous practice. People and genders communicate differently. Sometimes the same conversation must be said over and over for full understanding as you grow and mature in life and your marriage. Do not get discouraged if it takes many times to explain something.

After twenty years—twenty years of frustrating miscommunications, my husband and I decided to start defining our words. We get in our heads that words are defined in the same way for others as they are for us. Not true. Some words may even mean the same thing but have emotional contexts attached.

For instance, my mother would always say "please" when she was at the end of her rope! (She had six kids—so I don't blame her.) So I grew up with an emotional attachment of irritated exasperation attached to the word. Others thought I was being rude by refraining to use "please" even if I was generous with my "thank yous." I was not being impolite, I simply didn't want anyone to think I was upset with them. 

Marriage should be a safe space where you can be less than perfect with your spouse. You should be able to feel your spouse loves you and will not judge you harshly as you walk together towards sanctification. No one should be abandoned or shunned because they are less than perfect. Two Christians who are sold out in being obedient to God should know that marriage is the place to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Some people do not communicate because they don't want anyone to know how dumb or selfish they are. In fact, some do not want to reveal that they are stubbornly clinging to a beloved sin. (By the way, that's why God set up confession!) However, it will actually help you overcome your temptations, your worries, your weaknesses if you discuss them with your spouse. Often just saying them aloud will help you see these worries or temptations have less power than you gave them.

Ask many questions and as you grow old together, you will begin to know the right questions to ask so you will know the very soul of your spouse. 


This is one of the toughest ones. And it can only be done with much prayer and pain. (Wince. Sorry!) However, this is where Christian talk hits the road of realville. Take a deep breath and swallow hard and sacrifice your wants, your needs, your plans and even your most precious rights for your spouse. Don't expect sacrifice to be equal. Don't assume you know that your spouse is not doing his share of sacrificing, because one day you may awaken and find your spouse has been enormously patient and sacrificial for you and you didn't even notice. It takes a lot of maturity to see what others are doing for us. We all have an enormous blind spot that with the help of our spouse will slowly diminish. And believe me, you will be humbled—sometimes humiliatingly, embarrassedly humbled as your blind spot shrinks and you see how stupid you have been in some ways.

However, there may be times you will be the only one sacrificing. And that's okay. Imagine yourself to be Sponge Bob and absorb the inequalities you are experiencing. Sometimes deep wounds in your spouse can cause them to behave selfishly out of self-preservation and with prayer and self-sacrificially absorbing the hits, will show them the love they never felt they deserved.

This part will take wisdom: Never sacrifice for spouse or children to enable them to behave badly. Spouses and children should not be spoiled or encouraged to be self-centered by your suffering and sacrificing for them. You do not martyr yourself so that your spouse can buy a car you can't afford, or watch a television show that is full of moral filth. Sacrifice should always bring out the best in others. And it will be required of everyone who is married at sometime. My advice, be the first to sacrifice, because if you both learn this early—it will save you enormous pain in learning to do it later. 

Remember, Christ did not show the universe love by giving humans an example of buying everyone a car and cellphone. He didn't come to show us love through taking the whole world to Disney World. He showed the highest love when He was hanging on the Cross. Love takes up the Beloved's sufferings, not that they may continue to do wrong, but that they may do what is right.


Yes, as we near the top of the list of the marriage commandments, they become more serious and difficult. But I can assure you, that a marriage is worth it. It is worth all the sorrow and sacrifice and battles and drama. And the more you are genuinely following the rules, the less pain and drama there will be—guaranteed!

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do when your spouse had destroyed your trust. And your spouse may not deserve forgiveness. But forgive them anyway. It is the first step in healing the wounds for yourself and your marriage. Forgiveness is never carte blanche for someone to continue to wrong you or themselves.

Forgiveness is not a point in time, it is a process. If your spouse had abused you, betrayed you, lied to you, ruined your credit—something of great evil—you enter a cycle of forgiveness in your heart and mind that will take re-forgiving them over and over. Forgive because you don't want to become bitter and full of rage. You will no longer enjoy life and pleasure will cease if you don't forgive. Your marriage will seem like a bit of heaven when the healing of forgiveness really happens.

And don't for one moment think that when you sin against your spouse that forgiveness is easy, nor cheap. Don't ever put your marriage in that dangerous position of needing serious forgiveness. Wake up, grow up, don't do stupid things. Don't act selfishly. Both of you should learn to live so you don't have to forgive!


I bet you all knew I would write that as number one for a happy, healthy marriage. Well, it is true. For all the ten through two commandments cannot be done successfully if God isn't right there giving you the grace to think, persevere, sacrifice, etc.

Every single day, make it a habit to have devotions together (or go to mass)—read the Bible and pray. Individually, have them too if you wish, but never neglect family devotions. Even scientific, sociological studies have proven that miraculously! families that pray together, stay together! (Hmmm, wonder why?)

It is so easy to let this slide, but every time you let is slide, restart it!

God gives us a promise put the kingdom of God first and all other things will be added unto it. God first. Before entertainment, before sports, before job, before relaxation, before everything and anything…. before even spouse and children; for He is the source of love and energy and life that will give to make the family work. Nothing will work without His grace.

And if you feel overwhelmed by this list, that's normal. The list is impossible, absolutely impossible and that is not a joke or hyperbole. For us, it is impossible, but with God… all things are possible. And I can assure with with all my heart and soul, with all my love and assurance that a good marriage is worth all of it. A good marriage is the beginning of eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

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