Who’s on First in a Marriage Vocation?

how to keep your husband first in family life

I once asked a priest, “If we are called to total unity with God and, yet, a person is called to unity with a spouse, is total unity with God still possible?”

He responded, “Yes, for all three of you…it just looks different.”

A Single Identity

When I was single, I was first and foremost a daughter of God. There was no other identity in me.

I met my future spouse and became: first, girlfriend, and then second, daughter of God. Morals were not compromised, but my heart ran in one direction.

When I felt called to go out-of-state to college, I sat in the adoration chapel while my boyfriend was on the other side of the country, staring at the Lord and saying, “So what? How are we supposed to do this now?”

Because the reality was that I had wanted to marry the Man-Christ, and be His Bride. One month before meeting the love of my life and fellow sinner, I came to understand I was not called to religious life.

During those two years in Minnesota, I learned to drink, philosophize, and trust the Lord again. Returning to sunny California landed a ring on my finger and a phenomenal job.

Daughter and Wife

I upgraded the ring to wedding status, quit the job after the wedding, and flew on a jet plane to the East Coast where we could continue my wild course in “This is How I Follow the Lord” by doing crazy things, like graduate school.

Daughter and Wife and Mom

When our daughter was born I quickly shifted to: first, Mother, second, wife, and third, daughter of God. It was out of delight for the wiggling, grunting baby girl we had.

I wrote a man I respected who said great things and asked, “If routine is beauty, how do we pursue a life if prayer when there is no routine?”

He never really got back to me.

This is the way it stayed. First, mother, second, wife, and third, daughter of God.

When I got stir crazy, we alternated to first two. Daughter of God remained last. That day ended and the next day came and one must do what one must do.

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Then tragedy came. Long distance again, but this time because I cared for our infant son in a hospital 100 miles from home while my husband cared for our other three kids and drove them to see us on the weekends.

First, mother, third, daughter of God. Wife? Lost somewhere in the absence of seeing each other.

Burnt out, alone, angry. Mother had to give way to something else.

Who’s on First in a Marriage Vocation?

I had to learn who I am. I had to respect who I am. And I had to support who I am.

In that process of learning what I needed to know to care for myself, I rediscovered God in the personal way I had lost Him rifling through the diaper bag.

More heartaches came. Wife moved up the ladder, mother moved to a proper place, self remained as an anchor of sanity. I did not immerse myself in the romantic relationship, in the motherly duties, but found a secure sense of self I could give without losing.

It Just Looks Different

Where am I as a Daughter of God? I still belong to Him and He to me. It just looks different, that’s all.

I am not less united to my spouse because I no longer follow him around the house eager for his attention and compliments. Nor am I less of a mother because I am not afraid to run out the door when my friend arrives for a ladies’ night out.

It’s a Journey

There are many faults to be worked out, many sins to reduce, many more apologies to be made. I am not a saint. But just as my marriage entered the new season Anne Morrow Lindbergh refers to as the two solitudes (moving easily from solitude to communion and back), so I can operate through life with that sense of prayerfulness without being on my knees. When I get it right, I’ll be like Venerable Concepcion Cabera de Armida: sweep the floor, get caught in an ecstasy, and then go on sweeping the floor when it finishes.

And that, is the marriage vocation.

Married women, how did your prayer life and priorities change when you got married? What does this balance look like for you right now?

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Kathryn Anne Casey is a graduate of Divine Mercy University, freelance writer, housewife, and mother of four children. Her weekly newspaper column “Here’s to the Good Life!” and blog focus on art, psychology, consumerism and the importance of local community. Find out more about her here.

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  • Reply
    Nicole Mezquita
    January 24, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Before I was married, I was praying for my family and myself. I had the freedom to pray any time of the day. After I was married and had children, I started praying for my husband, my marriage, children, family and myself. I now am more intentional about my prayer time because life as a mom and wife is hectic. I intentionally set aside time after my family has been taken care of and enter into a deeper prayer with the Lord.

  • Reply
    January 29, 2019 at 2:31 am

    I am struggling with this so much right now! Before I met my now-husband, I was seriously discerning religious life. At that time, my relationship with God was very “romantic” — very much the Bride with her Bridegroom. Now that I’m married, it has been a struggle to find where exactly God fits in my heart.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    I’ve been married forty years, and in love with Jesus for thirty-eight. It has been a struggle, figuring out how to balance those two loves, especially because I also became a mother, which threatened to overtake both of them. So much love! Now, at a more advanced age, with motherhood somewhat in retirement, I am finally getting to a comfortable place with both my Lord and my husband. I don’t think I could explain why or how, but the inner conflicts have dissipated.

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