November 25 I Sunday
1 Peter 2
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.”
—1 Corinthians 7:3
God created us with a need to feel connected, to be known, to be loved and to love. We dream of beautiful relationships because we were created for relationship, but not for our own sake. In Western culture, where independence is highly valued, we may sometimes think the sole point of relationships is what we get out of them. This thinking will cause conflict in any relationship, but especially marriage.
One of the great myths of marriage is that it is a “consumer” relationship. Some marry to receive love, companionship, sexual satisfaction, children, belonging, intimacy or identity. These are legitimate needs and desires, but if a marriage is founded on “consumer” interests, it will last only as long as our needs are being met. When they aren’t, couples are increasingly giving up on their marriages instead of finding beauty and
stability in doing the hard, sometimes painful work of maintaining the relationship.
One reason behind this trend is we tend to over-romanticize marriage. Many fall in love with the idea of being in love. We might imagine marrying the perfect spouse, having darling children and simply enjoying each other’s company while the work, laundry and cooking just happens. If all we want is this fairy tale, the
real thing will disillusion us very quickly.
Stanley Hauerwas, an ethics professor at Duke University, once commented on the destructive tendencies of thinking we need marriage to make us happy or whole. He says we often assume there is a person “just right” for us to marry, but there is no such thing. Hauwerwas states, “We always marry the wrong person. We never really know who we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge is learning how to love and care for the person whom you find yourself married to.”
Paradoxically, the best preparation for marriage is learning to be complete as a single person. This is not being coldly self-sufficient but learning to be self-sufficient in a wholesome way in order that we may give ourselves to our marriage partners. It is a wonderful thing if someone loves us and wants to spend the rest of their life with us, but this is not a necessary ingredient to having a fulfilled life. Rather, we are to find our fulfillment and identity in Christ, for it is in relationship with Him that we learn and are enabled to truly love our spouse for their sake.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, so many look to marriage as the ultimate source of fulfillment in their lives, but thank You that true fulfillment is found in relationship with You.