Discovering God's Calling in Married Life
O God, your greatest command is to love you and love each other. You’ve given marriage as a holy relationship that reflects our relationship with you. Show us how to follow your example and humbly serve each other and the world. In the midst of our busy lives, help us to love each other deeply from the heart, as you have loved us. May the love we have for each other be an example to the world of how you love them. Amen.
Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-4).
Love is the fundamental calling for all persons. In the authentic love of spouses, we find, perhaps, the best human expression of God’s unfailing and unconditional love for the world.
Your vocation is a personal call. It must be offered freely by you and accepted freely by your beloved. In the article, “The Vocation of Marriage” the author writes:
Attraction to a certain way of life or to a specific person can be a good sign of being called. Most often a person comes to recognize and accept a vocation gradually. This process, sometimes called discernment, is an opportunity for growth. It can be helped by prayer and guidance from trusted mentors, friends and family.
However, what begins as attraction must deepen into conviction and commitment. Those who are called to the married life should be ready to learn what their vocation means and to acquire the virtues and skills needed for a happy and holy marriage.
The vocation to marriage is a call to a life of holiness and service within the couple’s own relationship and in their family. As a particular way of following the Lord, this vocation also challenges a couple to live their marriage in a way that expresses God’s truth and love in the world. (http://www.foryourmarriage.org/the-vocation-of-marriage)
If you are newly married or engaged to be married, congratulations. Your interest in this program shows that the two of you recognize your marriage as a vocational call. If you have been married for some time, then congratulations to you as well for seeking to deepen your vocational call as a couple. God has good ideas for the two of you together. We pray that this program will reveal those ideas to you with clarity.
This reflection will help you discern God’s call for you as a couple at this time in your lives. As that call emerges, place your trust in God, say ‘yes’ as best you can, and give it your all.
In his book Managing Transitions, William Bridges writes that transitions always start with an ending. Seems odd, yes, but he maintains that the first step toward a life change is identifying what you are losing and learning how to manage the losses.
As you embrace the call to married life, you may wonder what you may be losing, or giving up, when committing to this one person, and this one particular lifestyle. You may feel as though you are losing your freedom, and that may cause some confusion, anxiety, and doubt. It’s all normal. But pay attention to those feelings. They are indicators of a life change that you (and your beloved) must now navigate.
In her article, From ME to WE: Tips for Adjusting to the First Year of Marriage, Sharise Nance writes:
Most married couples would agree that the first year of marriage can range from bliss and excitement to adjustment and transition. Blended families, first time married couples, previously married couples and family history can have a huge impact on the first year of marriage. Each couple will experience their unique share of successes and obstacles.
Take a moment to read the entire article. You’ll see that she offers practical suggestions to “help you adjust and enjoy a successful first year of marriage” under these headings:
Write and/or Discuss
Jot some notes or share with others your responses to these questions:
As you embrace your call to married life, take a moment to complete these reflection statements . . .
Finding concrete answers for how to align your life with God ideas for the two of you is a process that takes time. So, all your wonderments and anxieties are normal and part of the process. Acknowledge them and recognize that God is present in them. And pray for trust that God will mold you and your beloved into the authentic couple you are called to be.
“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:6-9)
What's Emerging in My Life
Let’s consider what might be emerging in your life as a result of these changes. As we do so, let us remember a few things that others have discovered about God’s callings in their lives. We can say that responding to God’s call will
likely . . .
Let’s consider the third bullet point: benefit others besides yourself. You have surely learned by now that marriage requires considerable giving, self-sacrifice, and a whole lot of kindness and consideration of your beloved. You are called to be with and for the other. Indeed, your happiness lies in giving of your whole self to your beloved. The vocation of marriage also calls the two of you beyond yourselves for the sake of others.
In her article “Qualities of a Christian Marriage” Susan Vogt writes,
When a couple enters into a Christian marriage . . . they choose to add a dimension of purpose beyond the couple themselves. The church blesses this union and calls it a sacrament because it is a sign of God’s love made real in this world through the couple’s generous love and sacrificing for each other and for the world. (http://www.susanvogt.net/PDF/PDF%20MQualities%20of%20a%20Christian%20Marriage.pdf)
Vogt goes on to describe the following qualities of a Christian marriage: covenant, risk, prayer, unconditional, permanence, fidelity, fruitfulness, and forgiveness. Read the entire article together as a couple.
Write and/or Discuss
Choose one of the eight qualities described the article “Qualities of a Christian Marriage.” Discuss together the reflection questions offered by the author. For example, under Covenant you are invited to “Reflect on when your relationship has not always been fair or 50/50. When has one of you been called to give more than your fair share?”
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 John 4:16).
How Should I Live?
Now we seek to turn the corner and fully embrace the call. We seek to develop fruitful patterns of behavior and action that bring fulfillment.
Marriage is a vocation to holiness. From your first days as husband and wife through your golden years, you have the awesome task of witnessing to God’s faithful love to each other, your children, and society. No couple does this perfectly, and everyone needs help when love feels strained and the going gets tough. All marriages can grow in knowledge, faith, joy, and love.
In her articles “Common Values” Susan Vogt writes:
Early in my career, when I taught high school or college students about marriage, I’d say that communication was the key in choosing a mate and keeping a marriage healthy. I’ve changed my mind. . . . Yes, communication is vital, and if couples don’t have good communication skills, learning them can be a marriage saver. But if the values are significantly different, it’s unlikely that even the best communication will be enough. (http://www.foryourmarriage.org/common-values)
Vogt goes on to offer a “Common Values Assessment” that is designed to show how your values are aligned with each other. Read the article together and do the assessment now.
Write and/or Discuss
Jot some notes and share with your beloved responses to these questions:
Here are links to helpful practices and strategies for responding to the call of married life.
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Our soul is waiting for the Lord,
He is our help and our shield,
in him do our hearts find joy.
We trust in his holy name.
(Psalm 33:12, 20-21)