The Purpose of Marriage-Part 1
Updated: Jan 22
...is to uncritically understand each other's views and feelings about things important to them while making them feel valued, appreciated and cared about.
Romantic love has no elasticity to it. It can never be stretched, it just shatters before us. On the other hand, mature love, the kind demanded in a good marriage, must stretch because as humans we all have conflicting emotions. We can run from the challenges of marriage, or we can admit that every marriage has challenges and we must decide to address them head on.
Becoming one--in the deepest, most intimate sense--takes time. It takes at least the span of a decade for the sense of intimacy to really display itself in the marriage relationship. Gary Thomas
Love is not the natural response that gushes out of us in the beginning of a relationship. Infatuation does that. It's hate that's ready to naturally spring forth, like a geyser. Mature love (#maturelove) must be chased after, aspired to, and practiced over and over again. Our challenge to love our partner is far more difficult than most couples realize as they enter a relationship. Marriage can become the gym in which our capacity to experience and express mature love is strengthened and further developed. When "love" is properly defined, we can never love somebody "too much". Marriage gives us the climate where love is put to the greatest test. Katherine Anne Porter writes, "Love must be learned, and learned again and
again; there is no end to it. Hate needs no instructions but waits only to be provoked." In the context of marriage, we have absolutely no excuse when we talk about love. We are allowed to choose whom we are going to love. And because we are given that choice of whom we love and then find it difficult to love in practice, how do we ever have the grounds to stop loving? We are never commanded to get married; we are given the opportunity. What if the purpose of marriage (#thepurposeofmarriage) is really to learn not only to love your partner more but also to teach you how to love others more? If one can't love their partner, how can they love their annoying coworker? How can they love the drug addict or the alcoholic? Yes, our partner may be difficult to love at times, but that's what marriage is for--to teach us how to love.
Allow your marriage relationship to stretch your love and to enlarge your capacity for love. Use marriage as a practice court where you learn to accept another person and serve him or her. Gary Thomas
If the purpose of marriage is to simply make one happy and enjoy an infatuation (neuroscience tells us that infatuation lasts a mere twelve to eighteen months), then we would find ourselves having to get a new marriage/relationship every two to three years! But, if we really wanted to see self-transformation from the inside out, we would have to concentrate on changing ourselves instead of changing our spouses. I think we will find that the more difficult our spouse proves to be, the more opportunity we have to grow. As physical exercise needs to be somewhat strenuous, so too must relational exercise need to be strenuous to truly "stress-test" the heart. We can be wrong about so many things about marriage. There can be moments of betrayal, apathy, unkindness, selfishness--but marriage is a long walk. We can start out slowly, we can occasionally loose our way, and yet we can still salvage a most meaningful journey. We must view our marriage relationship as an opportunity to excel in love, it doesn't matter how difficult the person is whom we are called to love; and it doesn't even matter whether the love is ever returned. We can still excel in love. We can still proclaim, "I'm going to love you like nobody else ever has, like it or not!"
My hope for you in 2020, is that you will work to love your marriage more, appreciate your marriage more, and inspire you to become more engaged in your relationship with your spouse. I hope you love the fun parts of your marriage, the easy parts, the pleasurable parts. I also hope you appreciate the difficult parts, that parts that frustrate you but help you understand yourself and your spouse on a deeper level; the parts that are painful but force you to see the parts of yourself
that you hate; the parts that force you to your knees and teach you that you need to learn to love on a purer level instead of just trying harder.
"When you realize that something is "sacred", far from making it boring, it gives birth to a new reverence, a take-your-breath-away realization that something you may have been taking for granted is far more profound, far more life-giving and life-transforming, than you may ever have realized." Gary Thomas