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Marriage is bigger than the individual

Marriage
Marriage
Image: www.pexels.com

When couples decide to end their marriage, it’s generally because they feel they can’t handle the relationship any more and have done everything they can to save it.

No-one really knows the unique circumstances that lead to couples going their separate ways except for them, and maybe a few others.

Very often we encounter partners that experience perpetual abuses of many kinds, while others experience serial infidelity from their spouse.

Divorce is actually the best option in some circumstances.

However, while every couple has a right to divorce without fear of being judged, we wish to argue the importance of commitment in marriage against some of the reasons people often give for why they opt for divorce.

And that there is no such thing as “irreconcilable differences” outside pride, unforgiveness, immaturity, loss of focus, individualism and hardened hearts.

There is nothing “cool” about divorce despite some people’s efforts to try to make it seem like there is.

What must you do if you are unhappy?

The narrow lens of our ultra-liberated society with massive Western influence makes a question like this sound intelligent.

The popular narrative nowadays is that staying in an unhappy marriage is a disservice to yourself, your children and society at large.

The claim is that by staying in such a marriage you are being phoney, in denial, and are not modelling a healthy relationship for your children that is purely based on love.

But what’s love got to do with it?

Marriage is sustained by knowledge, not romantic love. And that makes romantic love a very weak foundation for marriage.

When you become deliberate students of one another, you give true love an opportunity to be born and to grow.

When you know your spouse, you understand them better, and therefore develop the wisdom to treat them and love them the way they wish to be loved.

A successful marriage is a result of the application of knowledge.

In marriage, love is the byproduct of knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

Great marriages don’t happen by luck or by accident — nor are they built on romantic love or fleeting happiness.

Any divorced person can tell you that love does not keep a marriage together.

Applied knowledge helps you build around structure, discipline, shared values, common goals and unwavering commitment.

Marriage does not owe you happiness. This myopic view of marriage and independence pathologises marital commitment.

The pathology is internalised, leaving so many people thinking happiness is everything in marriage, and that falling out of love means an end of the marriage.

Proper perspective

A healthy marriage is experienced as we view ourselves, each other, and the marriage properly.

While individual happiness, desires and considerations are important in a marriage, they are not the central focus.

The central focus is interdependent, interlinked growth and maturity of character as a couple. In that process, you are reborn.

Self-discovery requires getting lost. That’s how we learn about ourselves, who we are, what we are meant to give and where we’re supposed to go.

If life went exactly as we planned or wanted, we wouldn’t change because we wouldn’t need to. And that isn’t living.

That would just be accomplishing goals without internal change. And without internal change, there is no fulfilment — there’s no meaning.

Couples that are serious about life together have the courage to develop meaning as a team.

They understand that life is not always about themselves and their happiness.

They pursue shared meaning and common purpose to live fulfilled lives and leave meaningful legacies.

The day you take the oath of marriage is the day you vow to die to self.

That’s the essence of sacrificial love that marriage, overall, demands.

The greatest gift marriage offers to you personally isn’t just having a companion and partner who can support you in achieving your personal goals and passions.

It isn’t the authentic, healthy and fulfilling love we grow into, nor the precious souls — we call children — that give us the divine privilege of moulding them into good human beings who can make positive contributions to the world.

The greatest gift of marriage, in our view, is the challenge of becoming Christ-like in character.

Meaning, your maturity is connected to your spouse’s imperfections and you choosing to love them in spite of their weaknesses.

Never give up on your marriage before you grow up, at the very least.

For better or for worse

Things do not always turn out the way you had hoped or dreamed they would, and real life tragedies can happen to anyone.

When you marry someone, you pledge a kind of love that goes so deep that you’ll accept the outcomes of your marriage, both good and bad, whichever way life takes you as a couple.

Through this vow, you agree that though you are not sure whether the outcomes of your decision to marry them will be good or bad, you’ll accept them because the covenant is irreversible.

Marriage is bigger than us

Marriage is much more fulfilling and healthier when both partners live for something bigger than themselves and pursue shared goals as a couple.

In this process, you intentionally lose yourselves as individuals in marriage to grow as a couple and become something much better along the way.

In its proper context, marriage is bigger than you. That doesn’t diminish you. But it does mean your individual happiness, satisfaction and desires do not reign supreme in your marriage.

Marriage is a tool used to shape society, grow communities and transform the hearts of individuals to maturity.

When a couple divorces, it doesn’t just hurt the individuals or family, it threatens the wellbeing of community and society as well.

Because marriage is bigger than us, other issues become less important. Irritations or frustrations are viewed through a different lens.

They are seen as one problem in the midst of much larger contexts.

If marriage is all about individual happiness, there is no issue too small to ruin the relationship.

Happiness is a very weak pursuit in marriage. Peace and satisfaction, rather, are far better pursuits.

Happiness will then be a byproduct of that pursuit.

Shared meaning is everything, and again, happiness is overrated.

Never doubt your marriage journey just because of the circumstances you find yourselves in as a couple.

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