Two weeks ago I wrote a blog about male/female relationships in our modern culture. I posted it here and on Ignitumtoday.com, and it generated more than a little controversy on IT. One of the most widespread criticisms was on my view of vocations, so I would like to quote the clearest and most cogent question I received about it, and answer it here.
I am a bit confused when you say “A true GCM will not belong entirely to his
wife, he will have another life outside, this will be his life’s work.” If you
mean that a man or woman should have as his or her primary vocation, loving God
above all things (even his or her spouse) with his or her whole heart, mind,
body, and soul…then okay I wholeheartedly agree. But how I understand your
statement is that you think in the case of a man he will have other priorities
that come before his role as a husband and father that will have a greater claim
on his attention, and which he will not share with his little wife at home…this
is where I do not agree. ..... If a man or woman is living the vocation of spouse & parent, then I think
that vocation would be the primary focus, and would require the greatest claim
on their time, and attention. This would of course necessitate them being a true
man or woman in their own right. Which would be living fully as God created them
to be, however in living as husband and wife, they would look to share
everything they could to compliment the other, not seek to keep separate from
their family qualities and gifts they are given.
Sorry it took so long to reply, I had to give it some thought and I have been busy. First of all you have to understand that that remark is colored by my experience in the military. I have seen too many women marry military men because they were attracted to their courage and dedication. Then within a few years they came to hate the military for the amount of time and energy it demanded from their men. Or worse, they came to hate their husbands for those very same qualities that they originally were attracted to. This goes back to Genesis when God said to the woman, "Your desire will be for your husband, but he will rule over you." When women fall in love they do so with a completeness that is beautiful but frightening. There is (it seems to me) always a temptation for her to want her man to belong to her as totally as she belongs to him, but that cannot always be. Some men work at their jobs for only one purpose, to support their wife and family. Other men, in my view the happiest and most fulfilled men, work at their jobs because they love them, or because they feel called to that particular mission. That mission will necessarily take time that a woman might want him to spend with her. In the case of some dangerous mission, like military, police, firefighters, deep sea fishers, miners, lumberjacks, farmers, etc. there is the added pressure of the knowledge that this job (this passion if it is a passion) could take her man away from her forever.
In such cases there is always a temptation to want the man to take the easy way out, let go of that mission, and just get a job as a plumber or a mailman, something that will get him home, unshot, at regular hours. A woman who enters into a relationship with a man on a mission, especially a dangerous one, is fooling herself if she does not take that into account.
However you should not take from that statement the notion that this mission is more important than his wife and children. It is not. If a man gets married that becomes his number one responsibility, period. My point was that it will not be his only responsibility, and ultimately the choice of how to balance the various responsibilities in his life is his (just like the woman's choice of priorities, ultimately, is hers and no other's.)
Somehow or other she will have to deal with the fact that he has other priorities, which are not more important than her, but are not unimportant either. When I say she must "deal with it" I don't want you to think that I mean she must just get used to it and learn to go on living when her man isn't around. I mean that literally she must deal with it. It is a factor that she must take into account and find a way of working with. Some women I have met do this by cutting their men down in public, doscouraging them from their jobs, breaking down their self-esteem, all in an effort to bring them to heel where they will be safe. Wiser women simply accept that this is something their man needs and let him do what he needs to do, knowing that when he is done he will come back to her, because he needs her even more deeply. However there is another way still. It is rare, dangerous and very, very difficult, but it is beautiful and noble. She might embrace his mission, make it her own, and make his sacrifice her sacrifice (which includes many sacrifices he will never be able to make.) However, since I have already written about that, I will not make this reply any longer. You can read about my view of that way here.