DIFFICULTIES OF MARRIAGE
The life of
virginity cannot be attained if you have put your foot in the path of a
worldly life. And so the married can only become spectators of the
beauty belonging to others and mere witnesses to the blessedness of
others. And so we become like cooks of a great dish but do not partake
of the banquet (St. Gregory of Nyssa was a saintly bishop who was a married
man.) And so blessed are they, already, who have no obstacle to the
enjoyment of virginity.
When a man
living in poverty sees the wealth of the rich, he becomes troubled and is
annoyed by his poverty. And so when a married man sees the beauty of
virginity, he becomes distressed by his married state. . .because of what is
in store for virgins, not only here but also in the afterlife.
willingly ignorant of the circumstances in which he exists; and so many
things escape his notice. Truly, what is chiefly sought after in
marriage is the joy of living with someone. Add to this having good
children, sufficient wealth, harmony in age, youthful vigor, much affection
and sweet rivalry in subduing one's own will in love. Add glory,
power, renown, which naturally arouses envy and hatred in others. And
so a "seemingly" happy life becomes an object of suspicion and
brings us more grief than pleasure. In the world, it is impossible to
"seem" happy and escape envy.
expectation of death and uncertainty of the future make all men live
frightening and unhappy lives, dissipating any present joys. When the
bridegroom looks upon the face of the beloved, the fear of separation
immediately comes over him; while he listens to her sweet voice, he knows
one day he will not hear it; as he delights at her sight, he shudders at
what an accident can do to her body. How can you be happy with such
This make us
distrustful of life, seeing that the goods of this life are not what
they appear to be; that life is deceitfully mocking us who stretch towards
it. Reversals show the instability of the world and the truth about
successes. And so "enjoyment" of worldly things go by
When a child
is born, we cannot rejoice because the child and mother are both in danger
of death. And, if not one dies, there is now the fear of both
suffering misfortunes in the future, or bad upbringing for the child or
unwished for casualty or mutilation.
The fears of
the wife, dangers of pregnancy, risk of child-birth, toil of educating the
child, the heartbreaks caused by the growing teenager, are all multiplied
with the growing number of children.
And since the
wife is dependent on the husband as head, she feels headless if he is
separated from her even for a short time. And she is haunted by
premonitions of widowhood or infidelity. To distract herself, she
indulges in excessive gossip where her mind is kept away from pleasant
matters and dwells in morbid topics. These are the sad things inherent
in the married state.
St. Gregory of
Nyssa: "On Virginity"