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Why get married?
People get married for different reasons, mostly for the wrong reasons, statistically speaking! We can understand that if our reason itself for getting married is wrong, the chances of our marriage working out well are pretty bleak! This is precisely one of the major reasons why many marriages break up, because the goals were wrong, the expectations were therefore unrealistic, and the efforts people put in to reach their goals were only taking them in a wrong direction, leading finally to disillusionment and frustration.
Unfortunately, couples who are considering marriage usually have nobody to tell them what to expect or look for, and how to make their marriage work. And on the top of that, these young ones usually are so full of confidence that they have a characteristic optimism about their marriage, that nothing is going to shake their love for each other and that they know how to manage everything. It is unfortunate because marriage requires a lot of understanding and willingness to work, and most people enter into it without any 'training' or orientation programme! What I would like to address here is only regarding the goal of marriage itself, towards which couples should work.
What foolish young men expect in marriage
- Free sex
- Someone who will 'run house' for them--prepare food, wash clothes, take care of babies.
- If I earn enough money and provide for my family, everything should be fine.
What foolish young girls expect in marriage
- 'Prince Charming' who will whisper nice things, buy me nice clothes and gifts, and take me 'riding' in the clouds.
- Someone who is there to talk to, who will be understanding and loving.
- How I will enjoy going out shopping with my husband and dressing up my babies!
Looking at it from the outside we can foresee where things are headed for!
Really, why should anyone get married?
When God created Adam, and provided everything for him to eat and occupy himself with, there was still something lacking. God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone." That was why God created Eve and presented her to him. That shows us the main reason for marriage is to have someone to be with. When God said it was not good for 'man' to be alone, we can be sure that He also meant the same for women. It is not good for women also to be alone. So let us repeat it plainly that the main goal for marriage for men and women is to have a companion.
So what happens if other things are made out to be more important in marriage than companionship? They cause problems because they distort the overall secret for a happy marriage. In other words, a marriage can become really happy only when the couple looks at each other as their best friends. To build that relationship, there needs to be honesty, transparency, trust, camaraderie, and a sense of partnership. Without such an approach, we cannot become the companions God intends us to be.
God wants the married couple to become 'one' flesh. Many people unfortunately think of this only in terms of sexual union. But sexual union alone cannot build companionship. True companionship will include oneness of heart and mind too. In other words, the couple can know and understand each other and adjust towards each other so well that over a period of time they become a truly united front in relation to the rest of the world.
There are different tasks in marriage too.
Becoming good companions is not the end in itself. As a united front there are tasks the couple needs to accomplish together. Separating from their families of origin they start a new family, and it is one of their tasks to bring up godly children who will carry the torch forward. The couple has a great responsibility to be good examples to their children and to train and equip them to carry on once their own turn on this earth is over. They also have responsibilities in the kingdom of God and in society as well. But the best way they can accomplish any of these is by being good partners with each other.
Got to work on it
If we see that building up this companionship is the biggest challenge in marriage, we see that we need to take a lot of effort to learn how to face it well and to work it out in practice. One of the biggest blocks here is our selfish interest which may have been nourished over the years before marriage and which we find difficult to give up. But give up we must if we are to make our marriage succeed. Understanding each other in spite of the huge differences--between men and women in the way we think, feel, behave and react, in our experiences of growing up in different families, environment, culture, etc., in our education, intelligence, skills, interests, economic background, etc., in our religious views, experience and understanding, etc.--is a huge challenge which takes time and patient working out to reach. Accepting and learning to love these differences in the other person without trying to force changes in them to suit our own preferences cannot happen unless we are consciously working on them. At the same time this should not end up as a passive acceptance of the other. Real love makes way for talking over the differences without being in a contest to prove the other wrong but seeking to learn from the other and finding the best course of action.
The motivation behind the effort is the goal to establish and enjoy companionship. Again it is worth repeating that if the goal is something else, it would not establish this compmanionship, and then nothing else can work out as well in the best manner.
Of course there are great challenges involved in this process. One of the many stupid things we can do is to give up if we face setbacks or failures, especially in the beginning. Failures only show us that we have yet to understand each other sufficiently, and we have not yet learned to accept the other person and change our ways to accommodate him or her. The stupid thing is to give away the advantage of having learned many things about ourselves and the other person, and to imagine that by starting out with someone else things would be better. We must remember that after falling down a few times like babies we will learn to walk without falling.