Ante & Roberta Skoko
She Said. He Said.
Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Roberta told me yesterday that our Wedding Day was the best day of her life. I thought, “I sure hope so!” Then she followed by saying it wasn’t the best because of her beautiful dress, the majestic ceremony, being surrounded by all of our closest friends and family, et cetera... It was first because she has never felt the Holy Spirit so strongly for such a length of time. Second, she looks back and is overcome by the love she felt from me every second of that day; she was thankful for my full attention, and has never felt so loved. Tears formed in her eyes.
I was at a loss for words. If she had spoke this simple statement to me in the weeks after our Holy Matrimony, I would not have given it too much thought, but after being mid-way through our sophomore year I sat there and let those words sink in, especially the word “thankful” for what should have been a given.
As most of you reading this probably know, Roberta and I met, got engaged and were married within a 10 month window (and as you also know - it wasn’t a shotgun wedding, ha!). We were completely on the same wavelength when it came to our Catholic faith, morals, family hopes, passions, had such a similar journey ‘Coming Home’…. and both of us were surrendered and full throttle guided by the hands of God’s Divine Will. Since we were running in that direction, and praying for a life-long mate as marriage was our vocation, Our Lord answered our prayers and put us side-by-side - and we responded to this Amazing Grace (full story to come in a later blog). However due to this short timeline, our first year of marriage was a testament to Hillsong United’s song Love is War (some of the lyrics below) which was the title of Roberta’s blog a few weeks ago, where she gave ten tips on how we got through some rough patches. This piece of mine this week will dive a little deeper into that first tip, which for me has been the biggest game-changer in our marriage.
In Your justice and Your mercy
Heaven walked the broken road Here to fight this sinner's battle Here to make my fall Your own Turn my eyes to see Your face As all my fears surrender Hold my heart within this grace Where burden turns to wonder I will fight to follow I will fight for love Throw my life forever To the triumph of the Son Let Your love be my companion In the war against my pride Long to break all vain obsession Till You're all that I desire
I have learned a lot in my life; from my parents, priests, teachers, coaches and other mentors - but none have taught me so much in such a short amount of time than my wife - on the subject of love.
I told her “I love you” for the first time when I proposed on Christmas Eve 2016; and the exhilaration, dreams and romance were at an all-time high. It then carried on through our 6 month engagement period with just a few hiccups. But once we got married - I got comfortable. “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness” - Pope Benedict XVI Before I eased into married man cruise-control, I was on overdrive with my love (in action) for Roberta. I was spending the majority of my free time with her, we actually went on dates to places other than my condo. I complimented her constantly as I was so enamored that a woman of her caliber chose to be with me. We kissed passionately and I held her tight, never letting her out of my sight when in my presence. I look back now at all the small but sweet things I would buy or make for her, and the efforts I would make to ensure she was well taken care of. The 5 Love Languages as Dr. Gary Chapman outlines are:
Acts of Service Gift Giving Quality Time Physical Touch Words of Affirmation Based on this list I would have given myself high grades in all 5 love languages during our courting days - and failing grades for 4/5 of them in our first year of marriage. The other 1/5, Acts of Service was A+++++. I would work like a mule, cook, clean, run errands, handle all the financials, and literally “do” anything I could to serve her in hopes it would make her happy. These acts she appreciated but they were only drops in her “love tank”. Due to this hustle and attention on this singular love language, the one that comes naturally for me, I became ** deaf ** to the other four. Living under the same roof now, I took for granted the enormous amount of time we had together, I wasn’t nearly as affectionate, didn’t compliment her enough, and I essentially stopped getting her little thoughtful gifts that had no practical purpose. At the same time, Roberta has always been unwavering in her love in action for me. She stops everything to talk to me when I come home, compliments my achievements and looks constantly (even though I packed on 40lbs since I met her and she still has the same slender silhouette), she has embraced my hours of daily sports/news shows in the background, along with supporting my political activism and ambitions, and so much more... “Through this union they experience the meaning of their oneness and attain to it with growing perfection day by day. Let the spouses themselves be joined to one another in equal affection, and the work of mutual sanctification. This love is uniquely expressed and perfected through the marital act. The actions within marriage by which the couple are united intimately and chastely are noble and worthy ones. Expressed in a manner which is truly human, these actions signify and promote that mutual self-giving by which spouses enrich each other with a joyful and thankful will.” - Gaudium et Spes
Oneness. In marriage, husband and wife are to conform to each other through sacrifice, I was not doing my fair share of adjustments in our process of growing together as One Flesh. (Mt 19:6) Equal affection. Wasn’t equal in terms of complete expression. Mutual satisfaction. I was more satisfied because I was getting what I wanted. Perfect through the marital act. Her desire for intimacy is limitless, but I was too often limited and would turn down this rocket because of sheer exhaustion… in what world does that happen? Actions. My actions were misguided. Self-giving. I wasn’t giving enough… enough is 100%. I was holding some back. (Let Your love be my companion, In the war against my pride).
Tracing back to Roberta’s words about how I made her feel on our Wedding Day, what triggered me to write this piece, was the realization of The Greatest Love Language (for her, and now for me). This is the one that links them all, the one that is irreplaceable and the one that is most precious - Quality Time. When I sit or lay with my wife… listening to her attentively, responding with interest, with my eyes locked on hers, no phone buzzing or music blaring, and we experience carefree timelessness (the feeling that teens seem to master without a worry in the world but the person in front of you) - that is what fills my wife’s love tank to the max. Quality Time with my beloved gives her every love language she needs: Gift Giving - There is no gift that she loves more than my time zoned in on her Physical Touch - “Maza” is what we call lounging with her warmly wrapped in my arms, this can’t be rushed, and the more maza, the more joy in the house Words of Affirmation - These come in biggest bounty when bearing witness to my bride and all that she is. Acts of Service - When serving, one is acting to fulfill a need for another. And when I give her my time I am giving her what she needs. And truly, the more we do it, the more I see I need it.
Never stop dating your spouse. Learn their love language, strive to speak it and act on it. And remember, we were loved before we knew how to love. It was God, Who Is Love, that Created us and gave His Son Who poured Himself out completely for us, His bride, the Church - all of humanity, who He wants so much to receive Perfect Love. In our marriage, our human love must attempt to mimic Divine Love and the only way we can do that is to give 100%, everything, just as Our Lord did for us. I now look at giving my wife quality time through the lens of God giving me eternity in Heaven.
And every moment I am with her I get a foretaste of that….