“Holy Mother, help me,” I cried to Our Lady the other night. My husband had fallen asleep early after an argument, which came after he failed on his self-imposed smartphone rules: never before prayer time and only after the babies are in bed.
My husband — who wants me to share this article, by the way — is trying. Like many folks, he’s dependent on a smartphone for work, and that makes it difficult to keep boundaries. His browsing weaknesses are innocent — news and information websites, and Facebook.
But when I’m frustrated despite his sincere attempts to keep the device from overtaking our family time, I turn to Mary. I know she feels my pain and she loves me and my husband.
Well, she had a husband. Like my own husband Pete, St. Joseph was a faithful man. But also like Pete, St. Joseph was hardworking, noble and … human.
Plus, St. Joseph was a man and Our Lady was a woman. While Mary was born unstained by original sin, and St. Joseph has been regarded by scholars throughout the ages as the epitome of a just, holy man, wouldn’t Joseph and Mary have had to practice patience and understanding with one another at times, simply because as a man and as a woman they were different from one another, viewing the world differently, as men and women always do?
I like to think they did have to forgive and forbear, not because of sins, but simply because contradictions happen even when no sin is involved. Think of the Finding in the Temple.
I like imagining Mary and Joseph in the evenings: The fire is bright in their hearth. St. Joseph is intent on a wooden spindle he’ll complete the next day. Mary’s sharing a story, but he doesn’t hear her. Joseph’s not trying to ignore Mary, he’s just become so focused on the curve and sheen of this particular piece of wood. Meanwhile, the dishes are undone, and the Baby needs a bath. Ugh, what wife couldn’t relate?
Regardless of his efforts, my husband is made of clay, just like Joseph was — just like I am. He’s going to let me down. And when he does, I find such comfort in crying out to Mary, this faithful woman, this mother and wife, who walked a path similar to mine. She keeps me company, praying with me for my husband and leading me to her Son. With her I say the Jesus prayer over my marriage: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on Pete, a sinner; Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner, too.”