Why should I get married? As a marriage and family therapist I get asked that question far more than I used to thirty-five years ago.
We live in a divorce culture. Many young people are terrified of the “confinement” they think marriage will bring. Many are afraid that they will wake up married but with regrets. What if my mate turns out to be less than what I had hoped for?
Fear of losing out keeps me from starting out.
In my counseling office at times I will use a funnel as a visual illustration of marriage. When you enter at the narrow end and commit to love one person for a lifetime, it can appear to be restricting and confining. Yet that very promise, that commitment and covenant…
Limits our options, but enlarges our life.
I, _______________take you _____________
To be my wedded (wife/husband),
To have and to hold from the day forward,
For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish, till death do us part,
according to God’s holy ordinance,
and therefore I pledge you my love…
This very narrow definition of marriage opens up the possibility of learning what it means to love another person.
When we get engaged and eventually celebrate our wedding day we are engulfed in the wonder of being chosen. We love being loved.
Yet we don’t know much about loving another.
Only when we commit before God to love an imperfect human being are we truly free. When we act out of love even when we don’t feel like it, we are no longer in bondage to our feelings. When we face tragic and difficult circumstances and act out of love, we are not controlled by our circumstances.
When loving God and loving my mate is my highest priority, I am free.
Our love will be tested in the disappointments, the “poorer” and the “sickness”. Only when we intentionally and consistently choose to act in love do we begin to know anything about loving.
It is the covenant commitment that provides the opportunity for us to know what true love is and how it acts.
Only with time do we recognize who our mate really is. They are a separate human being, who doesn’t always have the same preferences, needs or opinions as we do. A huge question looms over us.
Can I learn to love a separate other or do I only love a “mini me?
Only marriage provides the containment necessary to learn how to welcome another’s needs and how to serve one another in freedom and out of love even when it may not be convenient or fun.
It is absolutely guaranteed that no matter who you choose to marry there will be times that you fall out of “like” with them.
That is when the promise becomes personal.
We act in love today and we promise to act in love tomorrow. When that is our choice often we are surprised at what happens. Almost undetected the feelings of “dislike” fade and we find ourselves appreciating our mate once again. Our perspective widens and our love deepens and expands.
The covenant to love another means that I refuse to retaliate to the anti-love choices of my mate or imitate their destructive behavior or their negative attitudes.
Eventually my positive, daily loving choices will begin to create a love story. The result will be a shared history of successes and failures. It will be a story of connection and of caring for each other, for our children and our grandchildren. Together we will have a collection of lessons learned and examples of our deepening faith.
There is nothing on earth more precious than being fully known and completely loved. God loves us that way. A covenant promise made on your wedding day provides the opportunity to learn how to love each other in that way.
If we continue to grow in love like that, we both will come to trust each other and our promise to each other. The escape hatch will be permanently closed. We will have both the security of a committed relationship and the freedom to love creatively. Nothing about this will be boring.
A funny thing happens as a result. Freedom, spontaneity, and creativity will thrive in the soil of a secure love. Rather than the covenant restricting us and leading to boredom as many fear, instead it leads to a spiritual connection and a physical and emotional passion that is deeper and richer than we could ever have imagined when we were newly in love and caught up in infatuation.
A covenantal promise provides the opportunity for the WOW to grow in our VOW!
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…