First off, I think it’s very important to understand that marriage was created by God. It’s not just a piece of paper created by the government legally binding two people together. God created woman for the man, she should be by his side.
The purpose in pointing this out is not to launch into a sermon, start a feminist debate or to cause any other form of an uproar. I personally find it helpful to learn why we do something. Sometimes traditions and sociality’s norms seemingly come out of nowhere or are merely something that’s programed in our brains from a young age. It can be easy to get caught up in the planning and the romance and forget the purpose of the ceremony entirely.
Without knowing the “why”, sometimes it can be difficult then to figure out the “how”. How do two people stay in love and stay married? The statistics show that nearly half of couples don’t know how.
There was once a mother of the bride who confided in me. She said that her daughter couldn’t give a reason why she was getting married. From an outsider’s viewpoint, this sounds like a recipe for disaster. But looking back, I’m trying to channel back to the 25 year old Shelby and try to remember why I wanted to get married so badly. I suppose the answer is love and companionship, I really couldn’t imagine my future without my now husband. I had been raised in thinking that someday I would get married, playing bridal dress up and preforming ceremonies with my Barbies since a very young age. To me, it was just what two people did when they fell in love. My parents seemed to love each other, Hollywood and all the fairytales told tales similar to this. Clearly when I got married I would be rushing off into my love-filled, happily ever after.
However, this obsession type love is not the answer here. Those flittering butterflies for your first crush are often defined as love and they WILL fade (you can read about the 5 stages of love here). I cannot consider these real love. I recently watched a video outlining a very brief history of marriage and learned that getting married for romantic reasons is a fairly new and modern concept. I’d seen movies and read books where a woman was forced into a pre-arranged marriage and simply thought how ridiculous the concept was. But knowing that the infatuation stage does in fact only last for an average of 2 years (living through this, I can certainly back up this theory), and then you have to learn to actually, really and truly love someone – somehow now this idea doesn’t seem so crazy. I think you could just as easily learn to truly love, respect and appreciate anyone if our will is strong enough. Of course, it certainly does help to have a little spark and perhaps they could even be good looking. Just bear in mind that love is a conscious choice.
Now the reasons behind some of these pre-arranged marriages do seem a little odd, I’d hate to think that I was giving my daughter away because I needed a new cow or wanted to expand a plot of land. I think that whatever family, wealth or other benefits might be had from a marriage, the main reason should be companionship. It’s not good that man should be alone. We are designed to complete one another.
Photography: Cory Weber Photography
Our small group marriage study has presented another idea. The idea that marriage was designed to make us holy and closer to God. I’ve always been familiar with quotes and verses saying that we husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. That parallel is not new to me. However, there are quite a few other similarities between our walk with Christ and marriage that I’ve never considered before. I’m not going to go in depth this morning but just share one quick excerpt from Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage, he says,
This is the theme of his entire book (which I haven’t read in entirety yet). But just as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. As cruel may sounds when applied to the marriage relationship, I think there’s some validity there. It’s not easy, but I think because I have someone by my side – even if we don’t see eye to eye 100% of the time – it’s making me stronger, as a person, as a parent, as a mother, as a wife and as a Christian.