Not too long ago, I was engaged to this really great guy. I was working hard, I had big dreams, I was excited to be a bride, walk down the aisle in my beautiful gown and marry the love of my life.
And then it hit me.
I was going to be married. Like, I was going to be a wife. I was going to have a husband and we were going to have a marriage.
Marriage. The reality of all that it meant hit me harder than it had ever done before. I mean I thought I had a more than basic idea of what it would entail and the challenges we were sure to face but for the first time, the reality of the responsibility I was taking on sunk in.
If there is one word that can take the fun and romance out of something it’s responsibility. Responsibility means I have to go beyond what I’m feeling and what I want and think about what needs to be. Responsibility means maturity and growth, intentionality, selflessness, and care. It means consideration and thinking about the consequences of your actions.
So we talked about it, my fiancé and I. And we were humbled.
We were humbled by this thing we were about to embark on and the reality that it’s bigger that just the two of us. It’s bigger than simply two people falling in love and deciding to do life together – as beautiful as that is. It’s bigger than deciding where to live, how finances will work and what to do on the weekends. Bigger than a five-year plan, our roles in our church, meeting the needs of our families, and pursuing careers. We saw marriage as something bigger even than standing before God and witnesses and promising to love each other forever.
Because, sure marriage is beautiful thing, a most wonderful gift. But it also carries with it a huge responsibility.
Because through marriage, God gives the world a glimpse of a little piece of heaven on earth. We get the amazing opportunity to show what love is and how it works and what grace and mercy mean and how God works patiently with people as they sort out problems, untangle communication lines, and ask for forgiveness – again. Through marriage God shows us sacrificial service. He shows us how to love without expecting anything in return. He shows us long-suffering, gentleness and self-control. He shows us individuality in the presence of unity. Through marriage the world can see what it means to tend to the garden of a family and the daily care it so requires.
Because marriage isn’t about getting what you want and making sure your needs are met. It’s not a fix-all to your personal problems. It’s not so you can have someone to boss around. It’s not so you can have another project to work on. It’s not so you can have guilt-free sex. It’s not even the remedy to loneliness, have mercy. Marriage is way cooler and more serious than all of that.
Marriage is about you serving the other person with all your love and all your gifts and all your talents and all your time and all your work and all your decisions. That doesn’t mean that you spend every waking hour with each other. It just means that whatever you’re doing will, in some way, directly or indirectly strengthen or weaken your marriage.
That means you don’t do stupid stuff that’ll hurt your spouse. That means you’ll chose your words and your actions carefully because you care how it’ll effect them. That means that you’ll have a conversation before big decisions are made. That means that you’ll take time out for them when you could be doing something for yourself. That means you’ll work hard for your household so that there’s a sense of safety and security. That means that when your spouse is uncomfortable with a situation, you’ll do all you can to make it right. That means if you don’t agree you don’t assume that they must be wrong.
It’s the idea of them getting the last slice of pie and the bigger scoop of ice cream.
Aren’t we supposed to treat everyone with that kind of generosity and deference?
Yeah. But why do we end up treating the precious people in our homes like dirt? Especially our spouses. Why do they get the crumbs while we serve up generous pieces of the pie for everyone else?
That’s being grossly irresponsible in our marriages.
But there is something even bigger and more important at play.
Marriage is also about both people coming together and saying “Okay Lord, what do You want us to do together?”. Because while we each have individual callings in life, God gives you a joint commission when you say “I do”. And when you commit to Him together, He’ll show you how to serve your best to each other and to the world. In. That. Order.
And when both people are serving God and one another fully and unselfishly, what would logically follow is that both people are loved well and satisfied. Ah! There’s the love and romance at center stage!
What would happen if the world saw more marriages like that? What would happen if people saw less disfunction and more selflessness, grace and maturity? What would happen to our children if they saw a model they can carry with them into young adulthood? What would happen to our churches if more marriages were rock solid in faith and love?
I must add that this is not to say that single people don’t have a responsibility to shine bright for Christ. Singleness is an incredibly important season of life with a special calling of its own. But it’s different in marriage. When two people get married and promise God and each other ‘’til death do us part’, they are not only promising fidelity to one another, they are promising that together they will build a home that is unshakeable in faith so that all who live there will be loved well and can be lights in a dark world.
So not too long ago I married this really great guy. I’m still working hard and I still have big dreams. I couldn’t have known the challenges I have already faced even in such a short time but, dear God, thank You for the love of my life!
It’s nowhere near perfect but we’re building a little piece of heaven on earth. A place where beauty, grace, growth, and joy can be plainly seen. It’s part of our responsibility as married people. Because if we’re not showing what true, unselfish, Christlike love is in our marriages and in our homes, then who is?