The purpose of marriage is to share a lifetime with one person through unadulterated love, mutual respect, paying attention to the small matters with the same focus and intent as the big events, and never forgetting to pursue your spouse.
With Valentines weekend wrapping up love is everywhere. Today I was witness to a marriage in one of the strangest places I would have ever imagined to be and it brought me to reflection of what marriage is. In the bible marriage is when a man leaves his father and mother to be united with his wife in becoming one flesh (Gen 2:24). That is a great start to the lawful unity of marriage but I wondered if this man and wife of whom I had not previously known could understand what the next steps and years ahead would require.
Falling in love is natural and happens fortuitously to people on a daily basis. Being in love however does not deter the eyes, heart, or mind from wandering into adultery. I may be head over heels, to the moon and back in love with my husband but if I am to look lustfully at another man on the street or read a sex novel for excitement and escape from daily life
cough* 50 shades of s&m *cough than I am committing adultery in the eyes of God and my marriage. (PS ladies; the new racey movie is no better than the web porn we scold our hubby’s for watching, if our purpose of watching is for sexual excitement than we should explore why we need that in our lives.) I sense your eyes rolling through my computer screen. Let me step down from my high and mighty pedestal, I admit it, I too am guilty of looking at other men in lust. I would have to turn off my Packer games and as the bible dictates “gouge my eyes out” whenever Clay Mathews hits the field, but the fact is that if we are married in the Lord than lust is “adultery in the eyes of his or her own heart” (Mt. 5:27-32). As if marriage isn’t difficult enough, you take two people and superglue them together for life and then you have to worry about a wandering thought? Yes. It’s not that God wants a bunch of prudes, let’s be realistic he wants us to mate like rabbits so that we can fill the Earth with followers of Jesus. God wants us to be in love and have fun in doing so but lust and wandering sexual desires cause pain in ourselves and our spouses and God does not want his children in pain. Not only do we have to worry about lust, we have to guard our hearts and minds from emotional or physically engagement with a member of the opposite sex who is not our spouse. Wow, if so far if you think marriage seems like a lot of work, you are correct. Keep reading, I promise it gets better.
Paragraph in review: Lust is the moral equivalent of adultery. We are all guilty of lust but we can be aware and take steps to avoid it.
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Mt 5:28
What you want? Baby, I got. What you need. Do you know I got it? …I ain’t gonna do you wrong while you’re gone… all I’m asking is for a little respect when you get home. Aretha knows what a marriage requires to stay afloat; respect. By serving each other without resentment we share a mutual respect. “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Cor 7:4). Contextually this verse is about conjugal consent and the act of consummating the marriage but the concept of shared authority over one another is equally important in matters of respect. Many people find this concept too modern; “but the bible says ‘wives should submit in everything to their husbands’ (Eph 5:24) so doesn’t that mean the husband deserves all the respect? No. If you read the scripture in it’s entirety you will also see that the bible says to “let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:33). For anyone who can’t read between the lines; if you want and believe you deserve respect than you would want for your mate to be respected as well.
Paragraph in Review: We are equals, submit to one another and join together as one flesh with respect.
“Wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior. Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God… Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3: 1-4,7)
Witnessing the little moments is as important as creating grand gestures for momentous life events. Holding hands while watching Hart of Dixie after the kids are asleep or taking thirty minutes from your post-work social media check-in to make homemade pasta together are the things you’ll miss most if your marriage falls apart. Yes we need to celebrate life’s achievements but we can’t let daily contact and the continual celebration of winning our best friends hand in marriage fade into monotonous routine. The big ticket events will be the memorabilia of our lifetime but daily shared moments will dictate who is present in those old cherished photographs. This snowballs into the last important piece of the puzzle that is marriage. The pursuit. Love is etched into our hearts. The moment we experience love for a person it is carried with us until our last breath no matter the circumstances, even if only a smidgen of that original love is there, it still remains on our hearts. Love, however durable it may be, is not enough to keep a marriage intact. Love fades; it requires constant attention; continual rebirth; and valiant pursuit to endure a lasting marriage. Never give up the chase. Marriage is meant to last a lifetime, therefore your love must last a lifetime. Pursue your spouse daily, continue the courtship until you are old and gray and then be the horny old man who is still chasing his wife around the nursing home in a wheel chair.
“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in His hand who saith. A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!” -Robert Browning
I’m no marriage guru. I’ll be the first to share the unfathomably difficult times my relationship has faced, but in the past eight years together we have taken the witnessing of good marriages and bad alike and implemented learnings from both into our marriage to endure the darkest valleys. The rest we are learning from His word and our own trials and tribulations, this is simply my account of what I have found to be truthful about marriage through our triumphs.