Sometimes we talk very comfortably about things that we do not quite understand. One such thing is calling someone “husband” or “wife”. I do believe that a husband and wife are linked together for all eternity on a path of service towards God. But what does that really mean? Does it mean that the wife is almost as responsible for herself as the husband is for himself and she is for her? Does it look like the roots of two trees becoming tangled together and, as both sets of root systems delve deep into the ground, both of them become stronger?
It feels like being married is also the nest step in striving for excellent for the sake of another human being. As a child, you want to make your parents happy. If you are as lucky as I am, your parents are happy when you strive to become a better person. As you grow up, you want to make your peers happy. Again, I was lucky that the good friends outweighed in quality the number of bad ones.
But in neither of these cases is the “dependency” as strong as in the image of the two trees. If I am a bad child, my parents will not be held responsible before God. They are only going to be held responsible before God for how well they played their role as parent. And although in the future, as a mother, I will greatly influence my children’s spiritual growth (God help them), they are not as dependent on me as is my husband. That is to say, my children can become amazing, strong trees on their own even if I am a weak tree.
But my husband is the one who will be most affected by my spiritual progress or regress: the strength of his tree is intimately related to the strength of mine in a way that no one else’s is or ever will be. This of course makes the process of investigating a potential spouse’s character during the time they are dating so much more important, serious and scared; you are not only choosing a person to spend eternity with, but whose spiritual growth you will become interdependent with.
Drawing by Florence Fudakowska, January 2012