Recently I was watching a religious television program, an interview, on YouTube. The topic of discussion was family life. The young husband was being interviewed. Answering to the question of the interviewer the husband said, “We are pregnant with our second child.” This statement caught me by surprise and made me think deeper into the institution of marriage and the roles of a husband and a wife.
Indeed the above statement is contrary to what we hear so often. “My wife is carrying, my wife is expecting or my wife is pregnant” are the usual and the “normal” statements we hear from a husband. Looking deeper into the institution of marriage no husband can make consciously one of those above-mentioned statements, because each and every human life, right from the beginning of creation, being brought into the world in the “traditional way” is by the active and conscious cooperation of both the husband and wife. And they both complement each other in begetting a new life. That’s the way the nature works.
No religion in the world other than Christianity gives a perfect teaching on this perennial institution of marriage. In the gospel according to Mark we read Jesus’ teaching: “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mark 10:1-12). From the moment the groom and bride enter into the institution of marriage they become one single unit and not any more individual entities who act and live against each other for, in every aspect, they play complementary roles. If the teaching of Jesus “the two become one flesh, so they are no longer two, but one” is acceptable to both spouses, then each of them, during the pregnancy, should always and everywhere proudly tell “we are pregnant, we are carrying or we are expecting” and not the other way around.
No doubt, this way of looking at the “role” of a husband and wife in their family life would bring about a revolutionary change in the daily life of the couple. Family life becomes more appealing to them and there would take place more and more manifest expressions of a life of sacrifice for the sake of one’s spouse. Even though after marriage each of the spouses moves around as independent beings, in actuality, being a single unit, each one carries his/her spouse within him or her all the time, 24/7. When husbands and wives grow in the awareness of the depth of the teaching of Jesus on the institution of marriage, their lives become more and more fruitful and meaningful and the spouses become a blessing to each other.
Another area of erring in conversation of the couple — husband and wife — during conversations with another person, even in the presence of the other spouse: “my son, my daughter, my boy, my girl, my child or my children” rather than “our son, daughter, boy, girl, child or children.” Over the course of the more than three decades of my priestly ministry, except in my current parish, Mary, Mother of God, Jackson I haven’t had the fortune to listen to a parent telling “our son, daughter, boy, girl, child or children.” There is a couple here at this parish that always makes sure to use the plural form of the first person referring to the roles each of them in talking about their child/children to a third individual. Even though this style of conversation might look insignificant to some, for sure, it would make a world of difference to the listeners and to the couple themselves.
Jesus’ teachings acknowledge the existence of the institution of marriage from the beginning of creation and because of the mutual complementary roles the husband and wife they become one flesh and no one can separate this unity. Because it is a conscious act (with full knowledge) coming out of free will built up on unconditional love, commitment and sacrifice for each other. If we accept the institution of marriage according the teachings of Jesus, there would be no room for any lasting argument or conflict leading to separation and divorce.
After marriage if the husband and the wife consciously adapt and practice this new and radical style of using the first person plural pronoun “we, our, us and ours” in their daily conversation to the third person, no doubt, life is going to be a successful and joyful one for them, because this conversational style will have its implications in all the other areas of their life including finance that is a major issue of contention in family life these days.
Husbands and wives, as a Catholic priest, I challenge you all to adapt and put into practice this revolutionary conversational style in your day-to-day life, and see for yourselves God’s work in your family life.