Later this month Lorrie and I will celebrate 23 years of marriage. I can’t believe she still loves me. We have both been married now longer than we were single. And I can’t believe that I ever thought I knew what marriage could be 23 years ago. In this day and age we are bombarded with stats and stories telling us that marriage is not only difficult, but doomed! Recently I had a chance to talk with Jim Beebe, a licensed marriage, and family therapist for over 30 years. Click here to listen.
The latest trends are to not marry until your late 20s or even early 30s, or live together, or have an open marriage, or just not marry at all.
So in defense of traditional marital monogamy, here are the blessings I’d list:
1) A crucible for selfishness
If you think you are selfless, get married. You’ll realize how selfish you really are. Now you are faced with the day to day decision of, “Will I do what I want or what my spouse wants?” And just about the time you think you’ve emptied yourself of your own stubbornness, add a baby! Marriage is a wonderful example of the selfless unity of the trinity – God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It has a way of squeezing the selfish pride right out of you. You don’t become a lap dog or subservient, you become more like Jesus.
2) A haven of trust
When the marriage vows are kept, and when a couple lives in mutual submission with each other, you find a safe place to fully trust another human being. This is where simply living together won’t cut it. When you have not committed to each other before God and State, you live with this constant sense of, “It would be very easy for me to bail,” or for them to clean out their drawer and go home. Commitment with a back up plan is not commitment.
3) A daily reminder of God’s grace
Lorrie and I still argue. I still make her mad. But when she forgives me or when we find a way to move beyond our differences, I’m reminded of Gods grace. So constant and so pure. And I see this daily. Jim Beebe said, “Marriage is a container for God to work out our salvation.”
4) A family
Raising kids in a culture of laughter, joy, serving, and Jesus is difficult and fun all at the same time. It’s worth all the hard times and misunderstandings. For them to experience both a father and a mother in the same home is a gift to them and to us.
5) The little things are special
Laughing as you drift off to sleep. Inside jokes from decades ago. Finishing each other’s sentences (and sandwiches). Weekend get aways. Walking with each other through aging. And aging parents. Managing anger styles. Becoming an expert on each other’s idiosyncrasies. What a treat.
I’d say if you are young – don’t settle. Pursue this. If you feel it’s passed you by or you’re in but your spouse is not, God is the redeemer of all things. Draw close to him and pray for him to bring your spouse along. It’s worth it.