Marriage is mission


When you’ve been married as long as my husband and I have, to speculate on what it would be like to be a single person is almost too fantastical.

Or worse, when we imagine divorce or death, we horrify each other with the prospect of going on a first date with someone else.

We dated other people in the past, but who can remember the last millennium?

The only dating rule my mind can latch onto from the 1970s is: Don’t order spaghetti. There is no graceful way to eat it.

We are very married.

I (sometimes) finish his sentences, and he (sometimes) finishes my dinners.

We are Team Schultz. We learned early on in the process of parenting four daughters that the only way to survive parenthood was to present a united front.

We had a code.

“What did your father say?” I’d ask.

“What did your mother say?” he’d ask.

Our daughters knew we would consult on important matters before issuing any answers.

While my husband and I might disagree in private, we showed no division because they could smell division.

They gave up on trying to set one of us against the other because there was no daylight between us.

Of course, we are different personalities with different preferences, but we blend well.

Even with our different habits and hobbies, we hold much in common.

We (usually) like, love and respect each other.

In our existential Venn diagram, where we overlap is the sacred meaning of us. We are mindful that our marriage is not only a legal and sacramental arrangement but a living organism, a gift from God requiring care and feeding.

So when a priest recently remarked in a Sunday homily that, when Jesus sends out the apostles two by two, that is essentially the calling of a marriage, I was struck by the truth of this observation in a new way: We’ve been sent out together!

My husband and I are not missionaries on foreign soil; we do not deal in prophecies or pamphlets, but we are on mission.

As for traveling light, we have definitely accumulated a lot of stuff on our journey.

All the same, our earthly work is done together, side by side. To quote the oft-quoted Ecclesiastes: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.

For if they fall, one will lift up the other” (Eccl 4:9-10).

While I esteem people who are called to be single, I believe that my husband and I are called to marriage, if only because we are better people together than we were separate. Continue reading

  • Valerie Schultz is a freelance writer, a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and the author of “Closer: Musings on Intimacy, Marriage, and God.” She and her husband Randy have four daughters.
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