I just posted this on the “submission” thread, and it occurred to me that it sums up why our marriage has been something for which we could be thankful for nearly 18 years. We didn’t set out pursuing “happiness”. We set out to love each other and to use our talents serve others, in addition to supporting ourselves. There is a big difference.
My husband has a demanding job, but I look at it as a career in service to others and I look at it as our career choice. When he has to work weird hours, it is the sacrifice we make, so that we can contribute to the practice of medicine. When I was teaching and he had to pick up the slack, that was a contribution that we made to education. What we do, we do together, as one.
This is what I posted on the “submission” thread:
As Steven Covey says, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. I have my own saying: If the person you are considering marrying is not someone for whom you would gladly live in a house painted a color you hate, then keep looking. Either he is not your man, or you aren’t grown up enough yet to marry. It is only paint.
I value my husband’s opinion very highly, and he values mine. When we got married, I knew that there would be times when I was sure I was right and he was wrong and we’d be doing things his way, anyway–and those “sometimes” happen for me, too. Nevertheless, we live in the ideal circumstance where he makes sure that all our decisions are made jointly, preferring no one’s opinion, and where I let him keep on thinking that. (I’m sure he’d say exactly the same thing. )
The Gospel reading we had for our wedding was this:
They returned to Capernaum and Jesus, once inside the house, began to ask them, “What were you discussing on the way home?” At this, they fell silent, for on the way they had been arguing about who was the most important. So he sat down and called the Twelve around him and said, “If anyone wishes to rank first, he must remain the last one of all and the servant of all.” Then he took a little child and stood him in their midst, and putting his arms around him said to them, “Whoever welcomes a child such as this for my sake welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes, not me, but him who sent me.”
This is the exact message that Jesus reiterated at the Last Supper, as we heard on Holy Thursday (John 13:1-17)
If this is the command that Jesus gave to the first princes of the Church, how much also does it not apply to husbands and wives…for are not the bishops and cardinals in the same relationship to the Holy Father as we are to our husbands, the Pope being the first among equals and the Servant of the Servants of God?
When we make a decision, once we give our mutual consent, it is our decision. There is no “I told you so” when things go wrong. There is no “you got your turn last time, it is my turn to do it my way” because we each try to give each other their way whenever we have the moral strength to do it. When we don’t, when one of us is very attached to their own way, then the other gives way, in deference to the weakness of the other…and usually, the “winner” expresses some rather sheepish gratitude for that.
My husband is not Catholic, but he truly loves me and gives himself up for me. In our home, I see my husband as the leader, having David’s role, and myself as the prophet, having Nathan’s role. I am not ultimately the leader, but it is not my role to simply do as I am told. I have a responsibility to advocate for the way of God, which is for faith, hope, love, and generosity of heart.
I have another saying: no matter who you marry, there are going to be days when you look across the breakfast table and think, “This guy is nuts.” It is a choice to decide that he is a nut with whom you are willing to go over a falls, as long as he is in the same barrel. If you have that, you’ll do OK.
My sister-in-law, when turning down sweets that don’t fit in with her health decisions, says, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” You could turn that to this situation: “Getting your own way will never feel as good as loving does.” Any voice in your head that tells you anything else is lying.