It’s National Marriage Week, so it’s a good time to put in a good word for marriage: I got married last April, and my previously miserable life has been perfect ever since.
I’m kidding, of course, but what is true is that the nature of day to day life does change as a married man. When I was single, day to day decisions about life were usually about me: “What do I feel like eating?” “What do I want to do this weekend?” “What do I want to watch tonight?”
What’s different about marriage is that my day to day decisions are now primarily based on the question “What does my wife need?” rather than “What do I need?” In a sense, being married is a shift away from one’s self and toward another person. What I have found, paradoxically, is that this can be very freeing. Instead of constantly agonizing about what my true purpose in life is and what I should really be doing with my life (which I did incessantly when I was single), it is now very clear to me what I need to do every day: I need to love my wife. Everything that I now do (going to work, doing chores, going on errands, or even playing the guitar) is a means by which I can accomplish that goal.
In this sense, the married life is a full life. I don’t mean to say that those who are single are somehow living inferior, less fulfilled lives. I just mean that marriage, in essence, is a total and complete gift of self. Within the vow of “forever”/ “unto death do us part” lies the freedom of giving one’s whole self, whole life, and whole future to another person. Indeed, my life feels more full than it did when I was single. I don’t think this is an accident. As Christ said in Mark 10: “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.” In a sense, then, marriage is a way of becoming more fully human because we are supernaturally joined to another person.
When I was single, I would often try to imagine what it would be like to be married. I would often try to imagine myself as a husband and think “How could I ever do that? I know nothing about how to be a good husband or father.” I would often think that in order to be married, I would need to change my personality and natural temperament in order to fit in to what an acceptable “husband” should be, otherwise I would completely fail at it. What I have found is that we can never really change who we are. Once you become a husband, you naturally make this new role your own. In other words, marriage isn’t about attaining a status, it’s about growing into a more loving human being. God has given us marriage as a means by which we can become more holy.
I say this in order to encourage anyone out there (men especially) to not be afraid of marriage. You don’t have to worry about being a perfect husband, there will never be a perfect time in your life to get married, and you will never find a woman who is perfect. If you think you have found the right woman (which should be prayerfully discerned), don’t be afraid to propose!