Marriage is a Career


My children are not afraid of marriage. They know that is a profession that it is most worthy of praise. They know that the marriage vocation is of the loftiest value and if that is what is God’s will for them, they are very blessed.

Our girls understand that the “M.R.S. Degree” is the highest degree they can attain, besides the religious life. They understand the dignity, the beauty, the distinct and splendid nobility of being a wife and mother.

This article touches on the beauty and importance of the marriage “career”.
DSC_0577Cana is Forever: Counsels for Before and After Marriage — A Catholic Guide to Dating, Courtship, and Marriage

by Charles Hugo Doyle

There is something formally prohibitive about a sign on a door reading “No Admittance Except on Business,” and it usually gets results. There would be fewer disappointing marriages if none entered the sacred relationship but those bent on serious business. Believe me, marriage is serious business.

It is no lark, no adventure in the vacuous emotion of youth; it is a decision that will affect for life, and perhaps for eternity, not only oneself but one’s partner and any children God may send.

Marriage is a career, one so vital and so splendid that it ranks next to the priesthood and religious life in the trinity of top-flight careers in the world. All other careers are incidental to them. The fact that marriage was the first career ever to be embraced by man is most significant.

And our common Father, Adam, when his pure gaze fell upon the first incarnation of unalloyed womanhood, Eve, proclaimed the inviolable law that was to bind all his descendants until the end of time: “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24.)
The etymological meaning of the word “career” is interesting. It comes from the Latin word carrus–“wagon”–and means literally something that carries one along a road. In this sense, marriage is truly a career–one instituted by God Himself to carry a man and his wife and their children along life’s highway to heaven.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “career”: “As a course of professional life or employment which affords opportunity for progress or advancement in the world.” According to this definition marriage certainly qualifies as a career. History bears this out.

There was hardly ever a great deed done by man that did not somewhere bear the fingerprint, no matter how faint, of a fond mother or a loving wife. How often have we not heard successful men humbly proclaim that the Herculean feats they have accomplished they owe to a devoted, saintly wife.

Indeed, not only is marriage a career that affords opportunity for spiritual and temporal progress and advancement in this life, but it reaches far into the next. “Marriage,” said Taylor, “is the mother of the world, and preserves kingdoms, and fills cities and churches, and heaven itself.

The state of marriage fills up the number of the elect and hath in it the labor of love and the delicacies of friendship, the blessing of society and the union of hands and hearts. It is indeed the very nursery of heaven.”

The nature of man’s career in marriage consists primarily in a permanent union for the procreation and education of children, the provision of a home, support of his wife and his offspring, constant vigilant care for the spiritual and temporal welfare of his household.

The nature of a woman’s career in marriage consists in the bearing and education of children, insoluble union, homemaking and housekeeping. These are not matters of choice but of obligation.

A married man may give proof of power to rule an empire, master abstruse sciences, write immortal tomes–yet if he fulfills not the primary ends of the marriage career he is a failure.

A married woman may win by her particular capabilities and capacities the plaudits of the world for her contribution to medical and scientific research, or for works of art that grace the greatest museums and art galleries in the world; yet if she fulfills not the primary ends of her marriage career, she is indeed a failure. Her first duty is to be a wife and mother and homemaker.

Failure to realize that marriage is a career is one of the tragedies of our day and the chief cause of the countless broken homes. People readily accept law, teaching, medicine, nursing, singing and advertising as careers, but neglect to include matrimony among the top-flight careers.

Important as all careers may appear to be, only two were elevated to the dignity of sacraments—the priesthood and marriage. That consideration above all else should merit for the matrimonial state special veneration.

No one would deny that for Gainsborough painting was a career, after feasting one’s eyes on his famous Blue Boy. But what comparison is there between the colored oils skillfully blended on canvas by the hand of the artist and a tiny, lovely infant born to an adoring mother and father whose union had been sanctified in marriage? If painting the picture of a child is a career, dare we deny that parenthood is a career?

What artist could reproduce the faint azure blue of a baby’s eyes or gather rays of pale dawn and distill therefrom the delicate pink that graces a baby’s dimpled cheek? Who but God, in using human agencies, could put such innocence and trust into a baby’s smile or bless such frail little hands with enough terrible strength to help weld two hearts into one until death do them part?

No one would think of denying that teaching is a high career, but, by far and large, the first and most important school is the home, and the most influential teachers, all mothers and fathers.

Nursing is a career, but a mother’s untaught hands can often heal and nurse with such latent skill that they can coax a waning life back to strength when it has slipped beyond the reach of a registered nurse and even the physician.

If entertaining an audience from the stage, screen, or over the radio is a career, creating joy and happiness in a home is also a career.

Diplomacy is a career, but where is diplomacy so necessary and so frequently required as in marriage? Indeed, the keeping of a husband or a wife for life demands more consummate diplomacy than that ever exercised by Richelieu and Churchill together.

The author of the “Lady of the Lake,” Sir Walter Scott, sums up for husbands the most contradictory and salient characteristics of all wives in a single verse thus:

“Oh woman! in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou.”

Some careerists are successful though they may only practice the virtues requisite to their own particular vocations. Thus, it is quite possible for a doctor to be successful in medicine or surgery without having to practice the subtle arts of the diplomat.

When a traffic officer stops your car and roars at you that highly original greeting, “Pull over, Buddy. Where’s de fire?”, it is evident that his career as such does not require the sympathy and gentleness of the mortician.

Marriage as a career differs from all others inasmuch as it demands for its success a great combination of many virtues and qualities peculiar to many particular careers.
Marriage demands the patience of the teacher, the training of the psychologist, the diplomacy of the statesman, the justice of a Supreme Court judge, the sense of humor of a good comedian, the self-sacrifice of a good doctor, “the-customer-is-always-right” attitude of the successful department store salesman, the mercy of the confessor, and so on, ad infinitum.

home lifeMarriage is of the greatest importance for the whole human race. This state of life has very many weighty and permanent duties and burdens. On this account married people need special graces, and they receive them through Christ’s raising marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. -Fr. Lasance, My Prayer Book

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