Most of us here feel called to the vocation of marriage…but what is it exactly that you’re attracted to? What have you seen in others’ marriages that you’ve learned from or would do differently? (maybe this is from married friends or your parents!)
In previous posts, I’ve touched upon why I feel called to marriage: It’s the answer to the discernment question, “Where does God live for me?” And yesterday, I wrote about a couple songs that I think capture the essence of what marriage is. Also, the theology of marriage makes the sacrament an incredibly appealing vocation. I can think of nothing more awesome or wondrous than two people whose union gives witness to the love of God. It is a way of modeling heaven on earth. It is a sacrament—a sign of God’s grace. It is not the completion of self, but the gift of a whole self given and received. Just think: a way to know God and purify your soul is in loving another person—and not just the “hard” loving of self-sacrifice, but the romance of eros, the camaraderie of friendship, and the affection after years together.
What I have witnessed in strong marriages also draws me to desiring this sacrament. There’s an incredible book coming out later this year called The Journey of Our Love: The Letters of Gianna Beretta and Pietro Molla. For the first time in the U.S., both Saint Gianna and her husband’s correspondence will be printed together. The letters are rich with the joys of marriage and the kind of love I hope my husband and I to have for one another:
“It’s true that love is the most beautiful sentiment that God has given to us.”
“Thank you for giving me Gianna as the sweet companion of my life.”
“You are the valiant woman I begged heaven for, and whom our heavenly Mother has
given me…I entrust my whole heart to you forever, and I will receive everything good”
“Gianna, I want to be the husband you always dreamed of in your most beautiful dreams,
the one you desired in your most joyous and holy dreams, a husband worthy of your
virtues, your goodness and your great love””
I also love witnessing marriages that live out that little ditty you sometimes here in church or about families: that the spouses “laugh, cry, play, and pray together.” When I see or hear of spouses who take up their own crosses or more especially the crosses of their spouses with strength and grace, I get hopeful that one day God has this kind of love in mind for me. Or when spouses face challenges with each other and find their way back again, it encourages me to believe love really can last a lifetime.
As for what I think I’d do differently, it’s hard to say. I don’t want to get into the details of the challenges I’ve witnessed, nor do I think I’m in a position to be certain that my different way would actually be the right way. Because I think that a marriage’s successes and joys or challenges and frustrations is partially determined way back when you decide whom and why you’re marrying, I’ll say what I’ll do right right now. What’ I’m doing differently from Past Dating Me is preparing myself to be the kind of spouse who can love well, as well as using the time while dating to see if my man is the kind of spouse who will love well.
But I can tell you for sure one thing I’d do differently as a married woman is never, ever let the first words out of my mouth to an aspiring singleton be “Marriage is hard work.” Rather, I hope I can say the following knowing it is the truth I’ve lived: “Marriage is incredibly joyous—both the very human ways we think of it: romance, fun times, happiness, sex, maybe children, peace—but also the spiritual joys: choosing to sacrifice and being okay with it, purifying your soul, and growing closer to God. Sometimes doing those things won’t feel good—that’s the hard work people tell you about. But the fruits are worth the labor.”