Why Marriage Matters: Part 2
Song of Solomon 6:3
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine (NIV)
I’m going to flip the script here and ditch the clever opening story in order to get right to the answer poised in the title of this reflection: does true love exist? The answer is a resounding YES! True love DOES exist, but perhaps it isn’t what we expected it to be.
We live in a culture that promotes radical individuality. It is encouraged to spend a great deal of our lives focused on defining ourselves and making sure that we have a distinct identity separate from others. I fear that it has grown to a point in which we are beginning to worship this individuality to the degree that we are teetering awfully close to the ledge of idolatry.
The message of the Gospel is counter-culture and radically opposed to the ways of the world around us. This holds true in marriage as well. God doesn’t call us to seek individuality in marriage, He calls us to seek oneness. Radical individuality makes oneness very difficult, hence the struggles we see in the statistics on marriage, even Christian marriage. How do we find this oneness?
Find a Biblical Definition of Self, but Prepare to be Redefined in Marriage: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV).
Our sense of self needs to be primarily rooted in our understanding of our role as children of God, not in our particular interests, hobbies, or work. For example, I am very passionate about writing, but I don’t cease to be myself if such an artistic medium no longer existed. It’s something I enjoy, but it doesn’t define me. Also, in marriage I’ve become more myself than I was before marriage. I didn’t lose myself. Despite what many say, even in the Christian community, don’t be afraid of your identity changing in the midst of your marriage: welcome it! Holding on too tightly to what we thought we were will just create isolation, strife, and misunderstanding. Jesus didn’t cling to any earthly conception of anything, rather He was willing to give away His life itself in service to those He loved! If Christ can give His very life, why do we cling to such little things that divide us?
Make the Needs of Your Spouse Your Own: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10, NIV).
Making the needs of your spouse your own cultivates the intimacy, trust, and oneness that so many marriages are missing today. Don’t worry, your needs won’t go unmet, because serving your spouse in this way will help to inspire them to do the same for you. Truly rejoice in their highs, grieve with them in their lows, and ALWAYS take the time to listen. Invest in your spouse richly and do everything you can to help them thrive.
Create and Pursue Dreams Together: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, NIV).
Be willing to put your marriage before your personal dreams. Controversial, I know, but I believe it’s important. There are dreams I’ve sacrificed in order to become one with my wife and now, years later, I’m glad I did! The dreams we’ve created, pursued, and conquered together are far greater than the ones I had myself. And through it all, we’ve attained a oneness we could have never imagined.
Of course, these steps only work when pursued in unison with your partner, and I’m not claiming it will happen overnight. Rather, it is an overall mindset worth considering and cultivating within your own life and marriage. Pray and ask God to lead you in this, as you would in any area of your life.