When it comes to Marriage (the Sacramental Covenant between a Man and a Woman that make them, as Husband and Wife, an inseparable One until and only in the case of corporeal death) the sacrifice required of a Husband is no less than Death. That death comes in many forms, and requires constant doing. If a Husband is not always dying for his Wife as taught by St. Paul and exemplified by Jesus, then he is no Husband.
In its simplest definition, a Sacrifice is an offering.
For a Husband, his Wife is a Gift from God. And he can only accept this gift knowing he would be offering himself constantly to God for his Marriage, in thanksgiving for his Wife.
A Husband also knows that even a constant sacrificing will not come close to equaling the perfect Gift God has given him. But he sacrifices for her anyway.
An offering that is sacrificial in nature is freely giving something that will be impossible to reclaim once it is given. A Husband offers that which he knows he will not have and cannot take back once it is given to God if he gives it completely. But a true offering to God is sanctified – made Holy – by God and, not to be outdone, God gives it back, holier than it was when He received it. The Husband then receives it again (not taking it back, but getting it back), to offer to God in an even more holier form, receiving it again and again from an always giving God who will not be outdone in the giving. Indeed, the Seven Sacrifices a Husband makes are those gifts that God gave him in the first place.
The giving of self – Sacrifice – is a Man’s constant dying for his Marriage, which is why these are called Matrimonial Sacrifices. If they are not made with a heart that will do what Jesus does for His Church – die for her – then they are not Matrimonial Sacrifices – they are payments, conditional responses, or perhaps even spiteful acts, or maybe an attempt to do something without an understanding of its natural value.
Matrimonial Sacrifice Defined
A Matrimonial Sacrifice is the highest form of marital adoration, inspired by agape, in which a Husband in the name of the Marriage offers a victim in acknowledgment of God’s supreme dominion and humanity’s total dependence on God, acceptance of the absolute sanctity of the Marriage; and in thanksgiving for the perfection of his Wife for him and him for his Wife. The victim is removed from human use and to that extent destroyed as an act of submission to the divine majesty. Thus a Matrimonial Sacrifice is more than an oblation: Whereas an oblation offers something to God, a Matrimonial Sacrifice immolates or gives up to God for the Marriage what is offered. In Matrimonial Sacrifice the gift offered is something infinitely and eternally precious and received from God that is given completely to God by the Husband as a token of humble recognition of God’s sovereignty within the Man and the Marriage and thanksgiving for the Marriage and for what God has given to the Husband in Holy Matrimony: the perfect gift of his Wife. The victims of Matrimonial Sacrifice are Assets, Ego, Time, Position, Will, Labor, and Life.
(Adapted by ManHusbandDad from the definition for Sacrifice found in Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.)
Giving What Has Been Given
A Husband dies for his Wife by constantly sacrificing to God for the Marriage what has been given to him by God.
Including his Life.
Just as a Man’s Moral Clarity determines his own measuring stick for being a Man (his Perfection as a Man) based on his God-given Aptitudes, so do those Aptitudes determine a Husband’s measure of his Covenantal Love by which he ofers these sacrifices. A Husband sacrifices to God for his Marriage primarily through this giving to his Wife – whom he has discerned is the Wife God has given him – to his utmost natural ability (his Perfection as a Husband; his Natural Calling), not to the measure of culture (the Cultural Calling of husbands). Not all Husbands can give the same – but they can give all of what they have been given. They can be Perfect as their Father in Heaven is Perfect.
A Husband is not perfect for a wife.
He is perfect for his Wife.
The Matrimonial Sacrifices, offered faithfully leading to perfection, cause the death of a Man to his former self – the self God made of him through these things he must now sacrifice back to God through his Covenantal, Sacramental Marriage.
His willingness and then active sacrifice makes him a Husband – no longer just a Man, and no longer the Man he was. He becomes a Husband built around the core of being a Man. Each offered sacrifice sanctifies him more fully, making him holier each time he offers it and receives it in return to offer again.
By giving what s given, constantly, he becomes a better Husband. He becomes the Husband he is supposed to be.
A Husband sacrifices his assets. An asset, in its simplest definition, is “a useful or valuable thing.”
I list thi Matrimonial Sacrifice first because it encompasses what many think to be the absolute maximum someone must compromise on when they get married, whereas I say a Man knows that to be a Husband, he must not compromise or share or negotiate his assets – he must give up his assets.
And that is the absolute minimum; the start of a Man’s understanding of what it takes to be a Husband.
Every asset I brought to my marriage became “ours” instead of “mine” when I Sacramentally declared myself a Husband before God and men. There are no separate bank accounts, cars, relationships or anything a Husband can or should call his alone.
If a Man retains attachment to his assets, he becomes the first offender in a long line of others who will try to do the one thing no person should do: Put asunder what God has joined together.
By clinging to his assets instead of sacrificing them to the marriage, he creates a division where there should be none. Even when he returns from the home improvement store, or receives a tool from his wife for his birthday – those assets belong to the marriage, not him.
Assets are how men culturally define themselves nowadays. Assets have nothing to do with a Natural Calling, so, while giving up my things may have seemed weird to people of this age, it was as simple and natural to me as anything. Jokes aside about how I did not have many assets and brought a lot of debt instead, I was still very proud of the library I had amassed, among other things.
How much more proud I was to make that collection ours! It’s been a source of education and growth for our entire family.
I’ve never understood separate checking accounts. Please don’t do that!
A Husband sacrifices his Ego.
I did not sacrifice my individuality when I married Beth – I gave up my need for individuality.
By sacrificing his ego, a Husband places the One of marriage before the two who combines to make that marriage. Once a Husband and Wife are married, they are together as One person – never to be separated.
The ego of a Man, if not sacrificed, can be deadly to the life of a Marriage, because it places “me” before “Us.”
As a Husband, I know that when I am asked to make a decision I am deciding for HusbandAndWife, not Man. By sacrificing my ego, I can make decisions based on what is right for the Marriage, even though it may be detrimental to my own personal identity or individuality as a Man. I recognize that what is best for the Marriage is best for me.
I also knows that I do not sacrifice my ego for my Wife, though the decision may benefit her more obviously. I is sacrificing and deciding for the Marriage.
As an example, if a Husband sacrifices his ego that results in his Wife excelling at her volunteer efforts while he misses out on the big game, he knows he is sacrificing for the Marriage because of the enrichment that his Wife will receive and share with him and the family, creating a stronger bond of Marriage that becomes harder for anyone to put asunder. The sacrifice was not so she could go sort canned foods with her friends, it was so that her growth would be facilitated and therefore become a blessing upon the family – let alone the benefits to the community through the volunteer effort.
Sacrificing the ego means living in a “what’s in it for us” mindset, instead of a “what’s in it for me” mindset.
Making this sacrifice can be daunting for some Men, and because of that it is one reason why discerning Marriage can and should take a long time. Can a Man subordinate his egotistical Me to the greater We? It took me four years of actively subordinating my ego to that potential sacrifice of Marriage before I knew I was meant to be Married. And my ego still fights that decision – or at least tries to – every day. But the greater good always prevails…
A Husband sacrifices his Time.
Time is a gift from God, to do with as He ordains us to do. Unfortunately, most people waste their time on earth, pursuing what they want to do, instead of what God wants them to do. This in and of itself is the primary cause for all the discord and suffering throughout history. I wasted the time that God gave me for over forty years – or at least 18 after I was Baptized and became culpable for it.
The Man who properly discerns his vocation is to be a Husband has already learned that God is his first priority and therefore his time is God’s. It naturally follows then that if God has called a Man to be a Husband, then his time must be devoted to the fulfillment of that vocation ordained by God, and so a Husband gives his time to his Marriage.
I was Married for sixteen years before I began to realize how I had spent time as if it were my own – not God’s and not even necessarily my Marriage’s. My days, career, even parenting were on my schedule. For a stretch there, I even jealously guarded “my time” and if anybody imposed upon them – even my Wife in a few instances and my children in more than that – I let them know in some spiteful way that they had offended me.
I still struggle with doing what God wants me to do with His time. I’m getting better, having set purposeful goals and accountability to my Wife and children up, but dying my Time to my Marriage is a difficult Agape for me.
A Husband sacrifices his Position.
Position, also “status” is a man’s place in culture and society. It is best defined by the answer a man gives when someone at a social gathering asks, “So, what do you do?” The answer to this question has been the definition of what a man thinks of himself and what society and culture think of the man for generations, and this question and answer have been a deflection from the true vocation of a Man, Husband, and Dad. I spent 26 years of my adult life trying to “be” or “do” something that would impress and command respect, through many industries as an entrepreneur. I was focused on what my answer would be if, at a social gathering, someone asked me, “So, what do you do?” even to the point of making sure my Wife knew what to say if someone asked her about me. It had to sound just right.
Position is brought to the forefront as a Husband, because society and culture base the husband’s worth to it and the marriage by what he does for a living.
That is an incorrect evaluation, and is based on a Cultural Calling instead of a Natural Calling.
To a Husband who has sacrificed position or status, when asked “What do you do,” the answer is simple: “I am a Husband.” This instigates further questioning like, “I mean what do you do for a living,” which is then simply answered, “Whatever it takes to provide for my family. Right now I am __________.” This seems to work for me, but it is still a bit wonky, and i know it would be harder for folks with long-time careers. this sort of response has within it the nugget of what I’m trying to get across, but I’m not sure if it is completely right.
As culture and society diffuse and the idea of a 45 year career at one company or in one industry falls apart, technology allows a Husband to market his services in a manner that divests him of position or status but permits him to pursue using his talents to provide for his family. This is a major win for the survival of the family in our modern, broken times and should be take advantage of. I think it also mirrors to some extent the agrarian model of society, where the Husband constantly worked at home, prior to the consolidation of people and work in cities.
By sacrificing position, a Husband can fulfill his vocation as ordained by God to a higher level of the Aptitudes while more than adequately providing for the practical needs of his family. Working in conjunction with the Distributist economic model, sacrificing position is a Husband’s key to securing and promoting a future in society that embraces a more family-centered foundation.
At least that is my experience over the last several years.
A Husband sacrifices his Will.
While “willfulness” might be a better term, it carries a negative connotation I want to avoid here. Sometimes will is important to accomplishing that which someone would rather not accomplish. And that is not the idea here, either.
What a Husband sacrifices when we are talking about “will” is the idea of doing something alone or having a “damn the torpedoes” approach to problem-solving or approaching obstacles – whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual (the Aptitudes in crises).
A Husband is not an entity by himself; he is part of a greater whole and must therefore subject his animal instinct to go it alone to the greater good of encountering life with his Wife in all things. Whether deciding to move to another country to pursue career goals or choosing to watch a football game or clean the garage, a Husband subjects his own will to the needs of the Marriage.
It is in this context that my Wife and I developed “The No always wins” concept while still on our honeymoon. Basically, it means that either one of us can say “No” to a decision, no matter how big or small, that will affect our Marriage, and that veto wins. It doesn’t mean we cannot continue the discussion, it simply means that one of us is not ready for the change at that time. We each know it is a serious consideration when one of us says to the other that “I will invoke the No if we continue down this decision path.”
My wife said “No” to a gun in the house for 12 years. That didn’t stop the discussion, it just delayed the decision from becoming a “Yes” until she had enough understanding of “why” to confidently embrace the decision to change our status quo. We then purchased a weapon, got licensed, and practice regularly. I didn’t go off and buy a weapon despite her protests sometime during those interim 12 years. I submitted my Will – actively let it die to the Marriage – every day by not going forward with a weapon in the house despite her protests.
I truly believe that the “No” should always win in a Marriage. It’s a significant key to the success of the Marriage.
A Husband sacrifices his Labor.
He sacrifices his labor – his ability to produce products and serve others – for the benefit of his Marriage. The vocation of Husband by definition calls the Man to become a new being, joined with his Wife, in a relationship that no one can put asunder. If a husband, therefore, from his perspective, is working for someone else then he is no Husband. He, along with whomever he may think he is working for, is complicit in putting asunder his marriage.
This labor is not confined to professional labor – labor which earns money – but also volunteer efforts and work around the house. A married man who serves his church before his marriage is just as guilty of complicity to put asunder, as is the pastor or church who knowingly allows this. Though it may seem herculean and even a God-send, any husband who puts altruistic labor before his marriage is not being altruistic – he is providing labor at a cost of that which God has ordained – he is paying for it with his own marriage. This is a dangerous thing to do and unwise.
This Sacrifice may coincide a bit with the Sacrifice of Assets, and it comes relatively easy to me. Maybe this is because I have nothing prior to my Marriage to Labor for – such as familial relationships – that could get in the way. When I work, in some way it naturally benefits the Marriage and Family. It doesn’t pad some individual bank account or spruce up my buddy’s man-cave, though the latter may be a candidate for Labor if in doing so it helps strengthen my vocation as a Man in the “as iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man” way and adds to the relationships our Wives and Children have with each other.
A Husband sacrifices his Life.
A Husband sacrifices his life every day. The above sacrifices might lead someone to think they wouldn’t have a life to sacrifice after everything else! But the very breath he has must be sacrificed for his Marriage.
Marriage is a vehicle God uses to create a future that does not exist without Marriage. When two become one, only things that one can do or bring into being are possible. In order for two to become one, the ones – Man and Woman – must sacrifice themselves, their very lives as Man and Woman – to become Married. To become Husband and Wife.
I am not a Husband without my Wife. I sacrificed my life as a Man to attain the vocation of Husband, which is an indistinguishable part of a whole – Marriage.
Husband, Wife, and Marriage create a holy trinity indistinguishable from their unique beings.
While maintaining characteristics of a Man, and being obligated to his first calling as a Man so as to bolster, support, and provide a continuing foundation for his vocation as Husband, the Husband becomes a Husband by sacrificing only being a Man to the larger calling of Husband.
The physical sacrifice of life occurs every time the Marital Sexual Act is shared, as the Husband is giving the essence of Life itself, from himself, not to the Wife but to the Marriage, just as much as the Wide does. When he offers his sperm to her offered egg, they have both given their lives – which cannot be taken back.
They have made a Sacrifice of Life.
I really believe that this Sacrifice of Life is purposefully meant for creating New Life. It is in the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ that New Life rose again, and was made available to us. This Agape He did for us is the Agape we do every time we properly participate in the Marital Act. We die to each other, so that New Life may live.
Agape – the laying down of one’s life – is purposefully made complete in the Marital Act. This does not preclude that, yes, a Husband MUST die for his Wife if the situation arises where her life is in danger – but the likelihood of that situation arising is relatively slim. I think St. aul knew this, and The Holy Spirit gave him understanding of what other ways a Husband must die for his wife exist.
I’m not sure if these are all of the ways – but they are what have been revealed to me in my limited perspective so far.
The Gifts That Keep Giving Back