Growing up, I had this Disney-like view of marriage and so it shocks me to hear the great skepticism towards marriage some people have today. In Tim Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage, he talks about how some people believe that marriage is dying – that less people are getting married. While the divorce rates are indeed higher than in the past, the number of people that still want and desire marriage hasn’t changed. The view that people have of what marriage looks like and who the perfect soulmate is has gotten skewed a little bit based on culture.
It can feel like there is a lot of pressure to marry the right person. I believed for a long while that I would one day find “the one” and everything would fall into place because we were soulmates. I have since learned that the idea that marriage will somehow stop us from being human (with sinful natures thanks to Adam and Eve) is kind of crazy. We are still the same flawed human beings we were before marriage and when you add two flawed human beings together, life is bound to be a mess sometimes.
So what is the hope for marriage? How do you know when you’ve found “the one”, if that’s at all possible? Honestly, there are a lot of reasons people give on why not to get married – the fear of marrying the wrong person; the belief that it will become sexually boring; not wanting to change; etc. In my post earlier this month, I talked about the origin of marriage and why it was created. In this post I will address three myths about marriage and shed some light on what marriage is.
1. The One
The first myth I would like to address is the idea of marrying “the one”. What I mean by this is that many people believe that there is one right person for them and every relationship that doesn’t work out must not have been the right one. Tim Keller points out very bluntly, “you never marry the right person.” What he means is that marriage will inevitably change you. Who you are when you get married is not the same person you will be 20 years down the road. Before you say, “Well I don’t want to change so I guess I’ll never get married!” let me say this: the changes that take place are often for the better. You will learn to love deeper, to live out humility, to serve one another, to be accountable to another person, and to be mindful of someone else’s needs among many other things. Even if you are already amazing at all these things, being married takes it to a whole new level.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I searched for years and asked God who was “the one” for me. I was so focused on finding “the one” that I kept missing who was right in front of me. (My husband and I have known each other for a few decades. Read about our story here) I believe that God intended for me to marry Matt and that he is the “right one” for me. Not the right one because he is already perfect but because he is the perfect partner to help me grow in every area and vice versa. Trust God with the big picture, He knows who “the right one” is for you.
2. Becoming One
The second myth I want to address is the idea that your wedding day is the day you “become one”. This was one of the first things we talked about in pre-marital counselling. Did anyone else think that the whole “becoming one” thing happened on your wedding day (or night)? Let me explain a little about the process of marriage and becoming one.
Marriage is about two people from different walks of life committing to each other. Each of you have your own values, beliefs, interests, opinions, ways of doing things, etc. When you get married, whatever is important to your spouse becomes important to you. But it takes time – years – to really know and understand all those things about your spouse and then begin to take them on as your own as well.
For example, one of my values is generosity. I live this out through being generous with my time and resources. In the last three years, Matt has been learning specifically what it means to me and has begun to live out this value in his own life by adding a few extra non-perishable groceries in case we come across someone outside the grocery store who is in need. One of Matt’s values is productivity and he lives it out through time management and showing up well for his commitments. I have been learning how important it is to him that he is on time for things and I have been working on my own time management skills so that I can be ready on time as well (something that has been a lifelong struggle for me).
3. What Makes a Marriage
The final myth I want to address is the thought that the marriage certificate is what makes a marriage. A covenant is a promise made to your spouse (in the case of marriage). The marriage certificate isn’t what makes a marriage – the lifelong commitment does! It’s about making a covenant, a promise, to your spouse that you will love and cherish them through EVERYTHING. It’s about committing to being your spouse’s biggest fan, shoulder to cry on, encourager, and lover and committing to helping them grow into everything God has for them.
Marriage is choosing to love your spouse for who they are today and who they will grow to become. It is having a live-in accountability partner to help you chase down your goals and dreams. It’s having someone witness everything about your life and choosing to love you through everything. Marriage is a life-long commitment and a journey to becoming one. Marriage is by no means easy, but it is so, so worth it.