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For Your Marriage

Dennis and Mary Jo Weiss have been married for more than 30 years. They write about a shared love of nature, prayer, and their children and grandchildren from their home in Hamburg, New York.

What’s In A Name?

“Mom, we decided on a name for our new club!”, my seven and nine year old daughters burst in through the back door, breathless from their run down the street. With their neighborhood friends, they had begun to explore the idea of a summer fun club, and I had encouraged them to find a good name.

“That’s wonderful, girls! What did you decide to call yourselves?”

“Well, we want to be known as the Kool Kids Klub, and for short we are going to call ourselves the KKK!”

Needless to say, the “KKK” was changed, and the “CKC” or Cool Kids Club continued throughout many summers in our neighborhood.

Though it happened many years ago, I still laugh when I recall how I had to explain to these sweet innocents that their chosen name represented something that did not reflect what they were trying to convey.

Our dear Lord is very good at using all the experiences of our lives to teach and instruct us in His ways. I have been reflecting recently on how names come with a responsibility to convey the correct meaning.

For example, my own name changed when Den and I were married, and with it came a new mission. My agreement to take his name came with the responsibility that I would love and honor him in a Christian marriage. The sacramental grace that we received that day helps me to strive for the fullness of all that is contained in the name “spouse”. In Ephesians, we are challenged to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ”. (Eph 5: 21) With my personality tending toward the feisty, I certainly need a good dose of grace to live that out!

If I am striving to be true to my role in our marriage, I will look at how well I am furthering our unity, and I will make efforts to correct the circumstances that threaten that unity.

Perhaps our routines have become stale or the busyness and stress of life have stolen some of the joy and spontaneity. At those times, it is important to also “name” what has come between us, and to correct it.

A recent week night found Den and me with only the two of us home for dinner, which is becoming more common now that the remaining children at home are young adults. I prepared a picnic dinner of chicken salad sandwiches, chips, cupcakes and wine. When Den got home, we headed to a favorite spot overlooking Lake Erie, and dined on the hillside. Little did we know that a local meet-up group of exercise enthusiasts was headed there as well, and practically surrounded us with their lunges and stretches. We laughed with them over how good our picnic looked and felt not a bit guilty as we munched our cupcakes, sipped our wine and watched them run up the hill toward us!

After our picnic we exercised as well by exploring the park and reconnecting with one another during our walk. At times like these I feel that the unity which results from a simple opportunity taken is part of our effort to be true to the names “spouse and friend”. The joy and spontaneity return and we are restored and refreshed.

St. John Paul II told families to “become what you are”. Perhaps we need to examine ourselves in the light of the Gospel, and see if we are being true to what God intended us to be. Even a slight deviation from what is truly intended can take away from the fullness of the joy He has prepared for us.

Our youngest daughter, Jessie, used to enjoy turning the cellar into all sorts of new play areas. For awhile, it was a school and she was “Miss Mizzy”, the teacher in high heels.

Then it was a bookstore and a theater. One day, I came home and saw a sign on the cellar door that said “HAIR SALOON”. We laughed about that one for years, as we joked that because of one letter, it was the only place in town where you could get a perm and a good, stiff drink!

It’s a little like that in our family when we think of the truth of our name. Do we really look like a Domestic Church, or has something entered that does not belong? It is important for us to reexamine at times how we are doing in living our Faith as a family.

Our mission to evangelize will spring from our striving to be true to who we are.

So, what’s in a name? Well, it would seem that in Christian marriage and family life…a great deal!