Losing Kath

Love lost, read and found

What is it guiding the father in me?

Where will I turn if I feel there is nothing no longer guiding me? Where are the pieces of the puzzle that make up me? Who do I listen to when there are apparently seven billion opinions influencing me? The dead or the living, the spiritual or the physical, the impulsive or the collected, the written or the spoken, the internal or the external, the historical or the contemporary, the proven or the experimental, the incredulous or the believed, the experienced old fool or the wise head on young shoulders?

How will I live my life while trying to raise daughters numbering three? How will I be as a father with no wife next to me? How will I instil the matriarchal essence of a mother in my daughters in Katherine’s absence?

What do I need to consider or ask myself so I can positively go forward in life, raising my girls as I would see fit and in turn, fit for purpose!

Opinions are many, but let me just listen to me!

Was my Marriage at the heart of my Family?

This is too big a question to be able to answer conclusively when so many great scholars over the course of history have not been able to agree themselves.

But I can consider the basic separate components and see how and if they fit together in relation to Katherine and me.

So what really defines the essence and roles of; Love – Marriage – Family.

Love – To really think we know ‘love’, we only can compare it to anything we have felt before. It is easy to believe what you are feeling at any one time in your life to be love especially if it tops any feeling you have had before. But feelings of love can be misguided or influenced by other factors and what you feel to be definite today can be trumped tomorrow by stronger feelings that you never anticipated. It is important that we realise we are capable of having complete different opinions on things over time as we mature or encounter new wisdom. If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that each new day or experience may change our view on things, and then by consequence what we deem to love or hold dear today may not prove so tomorrow. This reasoning is partly why I think that ‘Love’ alone cannot be at the heart of the ‘Family’.

To feeling of love is a complicated thing made more so by forces beyond our control. We have to consider the ‘Vaga libido’ a psychic and emotional energy associated with the body’s instinct and biological drive which can easily confuse feelings of desire and lust with the emotions associated with love but which in many cases proves to be far more short term.

To love someone truly is to be aware of the above limitations but to want to devote yourself to the other just the same.

Marriage – To have a valid opinion on the role of marriage it is important not to be easily influenced by the amount of negativity spewed out by many in today’s society who often are trying to justify their own agenda or short comings.

Today’s world is much about sound bites and bite size sensational headlines with so many people thinking that their mind set and circumstances trumps anything that has ever gone before. This does not represent the whole world through, it represents mainly pockets of minorities in built up societies of western civilisation spoilt with every indulgence they think they are owed. Marriage has existed for thousands of years and across many civilizations, cultures and different religions and over a long span of history too. Whilst these have all helped influence each other, marriage has still survived. How many different points of view, religions, governments, cultures, personal experiences, and many learned people and wisdom over time have found no reason to demean the role of marriage over history, it has proven its worth and we should not let a few minority opinions today think that what they believe is more proven than what societies have learnt over the course of time.

Marriage was everything to me. Quite simply it was the best day of my life. I married the girl of my dreams, my college sweetheart and only person I have ever loved and everyone who was in some way part of our lives, came together to celebrate it with us. When I hear someone call marriage as just another piece of paper, I don’t continue to hear them for very much longer!

Marriage means many things I guess to many people but the word itself comes from the Latin word ‘Matrimonium’. In recent times trying to find online translations, it seems to change every day, the impact of everyone trying to get their house in order to conform with popular consensus of our times. But unchanged in print in a volume of Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Matrimonium’s meaning translates as the union of two persons of different sex for life-long reciprocal possession of their sexual faculties.

Why does society fear the meaning of words? Political correctness should have no bearing on the use of a word but every so often we are told that a word is no longer deemed appropriate in its use especially if it becomes a label. But the term that replaces the word soon becomes a label of its own. A word has no power unless it is infused with the venom of the user. When we change the use of a word, we are not running from it, but from the poison of some of the word’s speakers.

Three complex things come to my mind with this understanding and the exercising of a word’s meaning:

1)      The meaning of a word or something should not be changed to something else just to suit moods, trends or personal agendas. When things no longer mean what they are supposed to mean we have a breakdown of understanding and rules to which we abide, concluding with chaos. For example, what if I deemed ‘Bicycle’ to also mean ‘Car’ and by that reasoning decided I could drive my car in the designated cycle lane irrespective of what chaos that might cause? Or what if for example ‘NO’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘NO’? Of course these are extremes but changing a word does not change the attitude.

2)      Why must I fear my opinion my somehow offend if I offer it up honestly and openly, without malice or hidden agendas? There is nothing right about the politically correct if they are quick to jump on you, trample you, label you and leave you ostracised because you did not automatically and immediately side with the popular consensus at the time on an issue that was far too big for you to understand exactly where you stand. But that is what we face every day, society had become the biggest bully of all when it is supposed to be standing up to bullying in the first place. We are all individuals who have been shaped in different ways, each from our own personal journeys, and we are all entitled to our own personal views without fear of being labelled by the use of a word that we won’t be allowed to change, because it won’t suit somebody else’s agenda. Society has become a mine field waiting to go off in your face all the time, and we find ourselves walking on eggshells, tip toeing with our choice of words or giving up on sharing a point of view because it was too taxing to think of the way to articulate what you wanted to say without fear of implying another. ‘Off with her head’, the jeering crowds cry. Because it is easier for them all to be sheep and part of the majority crowd than it is to stand on your own feet all be it alone. Who wants to be part of a crowd? Would you knowingly choose to be part of a mindless crowd? A crowd gather to look at someone special, but you don’t see many someones special gathering to look at a crowd!

3)      In Matrimonium’s definition is an understanding of the body’s natural biological urges and a promise to keep those urges within the union of the marriage.

To enter into marriage is taking a sacred oath to be exclusive to the other for the rest of your life despite knowing that your attraction to the other might change over time or your understanding of love might waiver. It is the permanence of that commitment which sets it above anything else we would hold dear including any infatuating love which can sometimes feel stronger due to the body’s natural make up.

To undermine the meaning of marriage by labelling it as just a piece of paper is to tear down at anything we hold as a measure of excellence, be it a qualification in education, a gold medal at the Olympics, a number one hit in the ‘pop’ charts, etc. We strive for the best in things and marriage is the finest measure in comparing Love.

Family– by definition is a social group consisting of at least one adult (their spouse) and their children. Since in ‘my’ Catholic faith exists the ethos to ‘go forth and multiply’, I must assume those who seek God’s blessing in the act of Matrimony do so and will probably go on and conceive children. If God truly created us in his own image, then when we go on and create in our own image, we are also creating in God’s and under his blessing.

But this is just me, to name a ‘nobody’! But nobody is right more than anyone else despite if they know more than another.

The German philosopher Hegel wrote “ The relationship of love between husband and wife is itself not objective, because even if their feeling is their substantial unity, this unity has no objectivity. Such objectivity parents first acquire in their children, in whom they can see objectified the entirety of their union. In a child the mother loves its father and he its mother. Both have love objectified in the child….”.

He states that married people have their unity embodied externally in material possessions but in a child their unity is embodied spiritually.

The Fifth Commandment states we must honour our Mother and Father.

Kant, another well celebrated philosopher also wrote that ‘it is the right of the parents to the management and training of the child, so long as it is itself incapable of making proper use of its body as an organism, and of its mind as an understanding. This includes its nourishment and the care of its education….its moral culture and development, the guilt of neglecting it falling upon the parents.’

With this we are easily reminded that the responsibility of raising children is huge especially given that a child will need many years of nurturing before it is a fully formed independent adult. It is therefore even more important that the role of the parent does not easily go missing and this too is in essence what taking the sacrament of Matrimony is promising, that you will be there to raise and guide your child in both your images and therefore in the image of God.

The famous twentieth Psychologist Sigmund Freud, whether he was right or he was wrong wrote; ‘ego ideal’ (Freudian theory) as the part of the mind that imposes on itself concepts of ideal behaviour developed from parental and social standards. He makes the point that the relation of children to their parents is the basic emotional determination of human life. All the intricacies and perversions of love, distinctions of romance, conjugal, and illicit love, the factors which determine the choice of a mate and success or failure in marriage, and the conditions which determine the emergence from emotional infantilism- all these can be understood only by reference to the emotional life of the child in the vortex of the family.

I don’t know where to look, or what opinions to follow, I don’t know what’s guiding me, but I do know my wife is missing from me, and all I can do is be the best I can be.

In the family the role of the parents is a lifelong commitment and one that is sacred and this is what I celebrated in the sanctity of the oaths taken at marriage.

Where I find here, in the loss of a parent in a marriage, there is no greater love than the commitment of the remaining parent to honour the ethos and memory of what our love and union in matrimony represented and the duty I pledged to God on that day, that come what may, and despite losing Kath, I would be there for the children I raise in our joint image.

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