If you are like many couples, before you said, “I do,” you had an idyllic view of marriage and family life. You and your spouse were in love and there would never be any friction between you. The PREPARE/ENRICH pre-marital inventory calls this “Idealistic Distortion” or looking through “rose-colored” glasses.
A few weeks or months into marriage, your beloved’s quirky traits that you thought were so cute when you were dating, now are rather annoying. Reality begins to set in and your idyllic view of marriage is now challenged by the tensions of daily living with another person. Marriage is a union of two selfish and wounded people. If you thought that you were entering a perfect marriage, as soon as you entered that union, it was no longer perfect. Along with our virtues, we each bring baggage to the marriage.
The habits and characteristics of our spouse and children that irritate us are the exact things that God uses to help smooth our rough edges. As we interact with those closest to us, it is like throwing rough stones into a rock tumbler, a machine used to smooth and polish rocks such as jasper, sapphire, and amethyst. In addition to rough stones, water and grit are added to the tumbler.
As we twirl and tumble about in daily life, our rough edges bump into our spouse’s rough edges gradually transforming us into smooth polished stones. The Holy Spirit is like the water added to the tumbler to assist in the transformation. We need to submit ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and beg for the fruits of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23).
Father Jacques Philippe equates family life with his experience in religious community…
Because of the closeness of life in families, we see and experience limitations, both our own and those of others. Take my case, for example. I have lived in a religious community for forty years, and a religious community is a little bit like a family. Before entering, I was convinced that I was very patient, and after fifteen days I was convinced that my patience wasn’t worth very much.
We need this kind of self-knowledge in the tumbler of life. Those with whom we live will illuminate our faults and weaknesses. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can be transformed into images of Christ, being more patient, longsuffering, loving, and forgiving to others, as well as to ourselves.
God is rich in mercy. We just need to ask Him for the grace to change.
“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
The Holy Spirit is shaking and stirring us, transforming us into precious stones such as those described in the book of Revelation:
The spirit showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great high wall built of jasper. The foundations of the wall are adorned with precious stones including sapphire, agate, carnelian, and amethyst. (cf. Rev 21:10-21)
Imagine the beauty of so many precious stones!
 Jacques Philippe., Real Mercy: Mary, Forgiveness, and Trust (New York: Scepter Publishers, 2016).