After all these years, I still care deeply about marriage and helping couples have the best marriages they can possibly have. I’m always a sucker for saying “yes” when a couple (especially a young couple) asks me for help.
Right now, I’m meeting with two young couples who are preparing to get married and I’m also going to be overseeing the ceremonies of two other young couples in the next couple of months.
Here’s what I can tell you about these four couples: From what I can see, they all define marriage in a different way.
And that is their prerogative. That’s true for all of us.
Each of us enter into marriage with some presuppositions about what marriage is and what we are hoping ours will become. We have beliefs about marriage that have been carved out since our childhood (when we lived with our parent’s marriages) and got further refined as we watched marriages (both good and bad) in our adolescent and young adult years.
We come to conclusions about the nature and purpose of marriage by watching and listening. The differences between us is our sources of influence. The people we watch. The voices who speak into our hearts. The words we trust and have authority in our lives.
But make no mistake. What our marriages are built on…what our marriages grow into…what our marriages ultimately become…are our choices.
I’ve said this before, many times. I always ask couples why they want to get married. They are almost always quick to tell me it’s because they “love” each other. Now, as noble and foundational as love is to marriage, that’s never the answer I’m looking for. At least not in the form I’m hoping to hear.
How about some of these reasons:
“ I find my greatest joy in serving her.”
“I want to grow old together.”
“We are better together than we are separate.”
“I want to live absolutely and fully committed to him.”
“Our individual giftedness compliments each other.”
“I completely and totally trust him.”
“I am drawn to her character and example like no other.”
“He refines and challenges my shortcomings.”
“She inspires me to live out a higher calling.”
The reason I seldom, if ever, get these kinds of answers is because most couples are not thinking deeply about marriage and they are drawing their definitions of marriage from sources other than the nature, character, words, and example of Jesus.
So when it comes to your marriage (current or future), here are the questions to ask:
Who is influencing your thoughts and your process of defining marriage?
What is your source of moral and relational authority?
Is your marriage what YOU say it is, or are you submitting yourself to a greater influence?
No matter what, it’s still your choice.