Two Become One

This summer, God willing, my wife and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Reflecting on that makes me feel totally inadequate to discuss the topic of today’s Gospel, divorce. And yet, at the same time, reflecting honestly on 35 years of marriage makes me feel totally inadequate to discuss marriage. What do I really know, and what can I tell anyone else that would help them based on the life I have lived? Can I even find the words? 

I do know this: Marriage is the easiest thing in the world, if you do it correctly. Moses permitted divorce because he saw people weren’t doing it correctly. “Because of the hardness of your hearts” he allowed it. Now, this brings to mind something I heard a priest say once that has always stuck with me: “If you’re going to bring people to Jesus, you have to meet them where they are.” Of course, he didn’t mean in a physical or geographical sense; he was talking about where people are in their faith, their spiritual journey. You have to assess and accept where they are, not where you expect they should be. I see this concept in Moses’ bill of divorce, that the people weren’t in a place to see the underlying truth in marriage. When the Pharisees bring it up with Jesus, he sees they are ready to hear the truth and he gives it to them straight: Married people “are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” But even before that, Jesus gets to the bedrock basics of the situation: “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.”

“God made them” and “God has joined.” And God does all of this out of His infinite love. That’s marriage, folks. Our marriage is not about my wife and me. It’s about her and me and God. His love created us, joins us, sustains us, forgives us. And only by loving God completely, putting Him at the center of our lives, can we properly love each other, can we become one flesh. No longer is the self the focus, it’s that precious gift of God’s love, including in the person of our spouse. And this is not just a marriage thing. We can’t do single life or celibacy or consecrated life properly, either, without surrendering our path to the loving will of God.

I once asked my wife a trick question: Who do you think is more important, you or me? Knowing me as well as she does, she knew I was up to something, so I had to explain, yes, it’s all in the choice of words. Not “who is” more important but “who do you think?” Because when it comes to any relationship based on mutual love, our main focus cannot be ourselves. And nearly 35 years of togetherness has taught us that I left the most important member of this relationship — God — out of that trick question. 

Marriage is the easiest thing in the world, if you do it correctly. But all of us being humans, we don’t do it correctly all of the time. Love is easy to talk about but not always easy to do in our sinful human condition. Luckily, we have a marriage partner more than willing to help us, if we remember to keep Him at the center of it.

Contact the author

Mike Karpus is a regular guy. He grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, graduated from Michigan State University and works as an editor. He is married to a Catholic school principal, raised two daughters who became Catholic school teachers at points in their careers, and now relishes his two grandchildren, including the 3-year-old who teaches him what the colors of Father’s chasubles mean. He has served on a Catholic School board, a pastoral council and a parish stewardship committee. He currently is a lector at Mass, a Knight of Columbus, Adult Faith Formation Committee member and a board member of the local Habitat for Humanity organization. But mostly he’s a regular guy.

Feature Image Credit: Joe Yates,