Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Four Keys to Everlasting Love

In The Four Keys to Everlasting Love: How Your Catholic Marriage Can Bring You Joy for a Lifetime, Manuel (Manny) and Karee Santos share the secrets of securing a lifetime of authentic love and mutual joy in marriage. Karee Santos, a marriage columnist, and Dr. Manuel Santos, a psychiatrist who has been counseling couples for more than fifteen years, have teamed up to compose a comprehensive manual which enables couples to find a deep, lasting, and satisfying love through a sacramental marriage. The Four Keys to Everlasting Love was written for both engaged couples preparing for marriage as well as couples in all seasons of marriage.

Using real-life stories, biblical principles, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the teachings of St. John Paul II, the Santoses witness to the significance of a sacramental marriage. The Santoses effectively accomplish this by telling their own captivating story: how they overcame personality, culture, and religious differences; how they learned to put family first; how they coped with health crises that took a physical, emotional, and spiritual toll on them; and how they handled stressful holiday gatherings with extended family members. They reveal how they let go and let God transform them individually and as a couple to make their marriage stronger.

The Santoses define the four keys to a lasting marriage as: Faithful and Forgiving, Free, Fruitful, and Love Totally and Forever. They divide their book into four separate sections, based on these keys. Each section consists of three chapters which include: a quote from Scripture, or a papal document, a true story from the Santoses’ marriage or that of another couple, their recommendations and advice, conversation starters, action plans, and a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church for reflection. Thus, the book is very easy to use in a group setting and is designed for both individual and group study.

As I read this fascinating book, I was struck by how little I knew going into my Catholic marriage nearly twenty-five years ago and what a valuable asset a resource guide like this would have been to me not only then, but in all the years in between. What I treasure most about The Four Keys to Everlasting Love is how the couple courageously shares their vulnerabilities:  their own personal weakness and strengths, their marital conflicts, as well as their family struggles, and how they have worked together to resolve these problems. They offer both practical and spiritual solutions to marital problems.

One example of their marital challenges that was especially challenging was that of unexpected illness. Carrie tells us that only nine months after their marriage, and five months after they conceived their first child, Manny was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The neurosurgeon told them it had to be removed immediately. Typically, couples don’t expect to experience health trial until their senior years, but it came much sooner than the Santoses had expected. How did they deal with it? They prayed fervently and asked others to pray for them. They stood by one another, putting their faith in God. The surgery was successful and, with Carrie nursing him during his convalescence, Manny recovered quickly. However, when the tumor returned, it created more concern and challenges. Yet this was not the end. Over time, Manny had four additional brain tumors, each one treated successfully. The couple naturally had fears and spiritual, physical, emotional challenges to deal with each time. They share the secrets of how their faith helped them overcome these fears and trials during these turbulent times.

In summary, The Four Keys to Everlasting Love: How Your Catholic Marriage Can Bring You Joy for a Lifetime presents a stunningly beautiful witness of how couples can encourage each other to grow in holiness within the marriage covenant and experience everlasting love and joy. I highly recommend it for all engaged and married couples.

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann 2016

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