Christ transformed suffering into great value. He used suffering to redeem the whole world. Now he says to each one of us, "If you want to be a follower of mine pick up your cross daily". It should not be a surprise then that marriage, parenthood and all relationships entail suffering. Married love is meant to reflect the love of Christ for His Church. But it is also this very love that makes us so vulnerable. No one can hurt more cruelly than the one we love and trust.

Marriages break up through infidelity. But it is more common that it breaks up through wounds of misunderstanding, coolness, indifference, disagreements, arguments and thoughtlessness, or taking each other for granted. Love grows cold, and marriages that started with joy and high hopes can end in the divorce court with bitter accusations.

A Christian marriage is not rooted only in the pro-creative love of God, it is also a share in His suffering. To be a Christian spouse means to strive to be conformed to the image of Christ, to be Christ-like, to allow Him to continue His mission on earth, to allow Him to use us as a mystical body and continue to teach, comfort, love, and yes, to suffer. The Christian word for "suffering" is "a cross"! Those who suffer see themselves as sharing in the Cross of Christ, and unite their pain to that of Christ and offer it to God in reparation for their own sins and the sins of the whole world. Just as Christ atoned for the sins of the whole world.

No one can identify every cross in the world for there are many. There are countless hidden ones that only God knows about and only God will count the tears.

We do not have to search for crosses for God allows them in our daily path. They come in the form of humiliation, misunderstandings, lies, un-appreciation, accusations etc.

A certain priest heard the Confession of a lady who was determent to change her life. Father told her to start practicing the virtues of patience and forgiveness. She came back the following week and complained to Father that her life had not changed, as a matter of fact it was worse than before. Father interrupted and asked, "What was it you asked of God"? "The virtue of patience and forgiveness." "Well" the good priest said, "God answered your prayer and put those people before you so you could practice patience and forgiveness. How can you practice virtue unless you have someone to practice on."

The way to heaven is by the way of the cross and it is God's way. It is very unlikely that, we who live in a part of the world of plenty, will ever be asked to lay our lives down in a bloody way as Jesus did. Instead He asks us to practice virtue in a heroic way and to forgive the faults of others, in marriage and in any relationship. Remember, the next time you confront a difficult person, maybe, just maybe that person was put there by God to get you to heaven.