Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Do

So we've all heard the stories, right?

Prince Charming battles the dragon, overcomes insurmountable odds, and rescues the beauty.

The princess overcomes adversity, and trials, and discovers her dream man in the process.

They fell in love, and a few months later were preparing for their wedding night.

We know these stories. They're familiar to us because, well, marriage is quite common in our society. In fact, most people I know have talked, at some point, about the person they'll spend the rest of their life with. It's a common aspiration, especially for peers in my age group (21-25 years old).

But have you ever wondered what happens after prince charming plants true love's kiss on his princess?

Have you ever wondered what it must've been like when they started browsing the housing market, or planning for kids?

If the fairy tales were in any way reflective of American society, about 70% of our classic love stories would end up in a divorce. Sad? Perhaps.

Maybe if Flynn Ryder hadn't been hitting the bars every night with his guy friends, Rapunzel wouldn't have felt neglected, and perhaps she wouldn't have found herself in an illicit affair.

Maybe if Ariel hadn't been a shopaholic, Eric wouldn't have gotten so pissed and taken her to small claims court for spending all their money.

I asked my Dad about this once.

My parents are actually a rarity. They're survivors of infidelity, and their marriage, rather than falling apart has actually flourished through the adversity (and trust me, it was no walk in the park to achieve this feat).

I remember saying one day; "Dad, do you think it's possible for people to make life commitments to each other anymore?"

He had to think long and hard about that one.

We live in a different society than our grandparents, or even our parents did.

When we say "I do," and "till death do us part," apparently this means something quite different than it did in the 50's. Now, I'm not saying they had everything together in the 50's, by any means. But, the emphasis that was placed upon couples staying together has definitely become a non-factor in today's society.

I'll venture out on a limb today, and just say what I'm thinking...


Marriage, isn't for everyone.

There, I said it. I'm sorry if this offends you, or if this isn't what you believe. This is a personal revelation that I've come to in the last year or so.

Marriage, as I understand it, in the Christian context is a pact between two humans, before God. It's a covenant. A promise. It's kind of a big deal.

Now, we promise all kinds of things to God, and ourselves. We promise that we'll quit the smoking, the swearing, the hook-ups. We promise that we'll go to the gym, and get ourselves in shape again.

We also break all kinds of promises. So why is marriage any different?

Marriage, is about more than just yourself. It's about more than your personal relationship with God. It involves another person. It involves two worlds coming together. It's about learning to share. To put someone elses' interests first, rather than your own.

In a similar conversation I asked my dad; "Do you think that people think about marriage beyond the actual wedding day? I mean, if you asked someone what their marriage will be like, do you think they'll have talked about it?"

I'd say for some yes, for many no.

See marriage, for many, has become about a particular day. Throwing a great party, having the right flowers, and inviting the right kinds of people.

Then after the honeymoon, real life sets in. People have to integrate their finances, they have to arrange schedules to coincide. They have to choose colors for the drapes. How many kids, if any.

This really catches a lot of people by surprise. Suddenly they don't have as much in common with their significant other, as they thought they did. Suddenly, the littlest thing can spark a huge argument. Feelings are hurt, and unless they know how to actually talk it out they wind up in divorce court a year or two later.

I understand that sometimes relationships just go bad, no matter how much time is spent getting to know a person. But that's also far from the vast majority of relationships.

The real problem is that people don't understand what marriage is anymore. And if we don't understand it's intention, how can we ever succeed?

God wants a marriage between two people, to reflect his relationship with us. Marriages are about far more than just sex, and chemistry. It's about knowing a person on a deeper level than friendship. It's about working through things, even when the going gets rough. It's about forgiveness. It's about learning to care for someone more than yourself. It takes grace, and it takes work.

Marriage is more than a fairy tale ending, but when it's done right, it's far more beautiful than any prince whisking a princess off on his noble steed.

Marriages can actually be a reflection of God's love for humanity, to the world.

But it all starts with the resolve, patience, and determination to fulfill the promise that's given, on the day when two become one in the eye's of God.

When you say "I Do," will you see it through?


Laena said...

Great post! And you got it exactly right. I've always wondered how people can say "till death us do part" without serious thought about what it means. I've never really understood why people get married if not to make a life-long commitment to love someone, no matter what difficulties they live through. The point is that they are supposed to love them together. Marriage should mean that there is someone there next to you, now, who will be there to walk through the crap with you. So why is it that people so quickly walk away from it when something gets difficult? I think you're exactly right. I don't think people really take the *commitment* of marriage seriously anymore. Why do they bother to say, "for richer or poorer," if they're not willing to support each other through the loss of a job? Why do they bother with "for better or worse," when they're planning to escape at the first sign of difficulty? "As long as we both shall live" should mean exactly that. If you're just getting married for the big wedding and the gifts, throw a freaking birthday party! But don't spit in the face of a commitment that is supposed to be a solemn vow.

I so admire your parents for their commitment to each other, even through infidelity. It really shows the depth of their commitment to each other, and I can't even begin to imagine the struggle they went through to rebuild the trust and repair the marriage. Amazing!

I hope that whenever it is that I do get married, the man who makes his vows knows that they are more than just words and that the wedding isn't just another party. I suppose that's why I'm willing to wait so long to find him. When I get married, I only want to do it once. And partly out of stubbornness, but mostly out of deep love, I am determined to be sure that marriage lasts a lifetime. Because words mean things. Vows hold real promises. Promises I intend to keep.

You're right. Marriage isn't for everyone. Those who aren't willing to make a real commitment don't have to. What's more, they shouldn't. Why bother.

I think I've probably said enough ;) Sorry. This post really struck a chord with me. Marriage is kind of a big deal in my book. Great post, Josh.

Laena said...

And apparently I'm not in your age group... Thanks for making me feel old :p

Corinne said...

Great post :)It seems so simple, that as times change the function of marriage will change as well. There was a time when people had to get married to have a successful life. Men and even more so, women no longer have to depend on each other to survive. I think this factors into the divorce rate quite a bit. I'm sure that more couples of the past would have made the split if they thought they could make it without the other person.

That's not to say I don't believe in marriage, far from it. Its just that today obligations no longer glue together two people who can't communicate as strongly as they did a few generations ago.

Josh said...

Corinne- Very interesting point. Would as many people have pursued marriage in generations past if they thought they had a chance to survive on their own? That's a great question. I'm sure there were plenty who got married for reasons other than love, and covenant, but because it was the necessary "thing to do." We have definitely made it much easier to split in society today. For me, like stated, marriage is a spiritual institution, so it means far more than simple government rights/benefits received. I think that if more people understood the full weight of the spiritual commitment they were making, then I don't think as many people would get married. That's mere speculation of course. :) Thanks for the comment, and taking the time to read my thoughts! :)

Laena- WOW! Been awhile since I got one of these! ;) haha. But thank you! Yep, it was no picnic going through the rebuilding process. Not only is a traumatic experience for the directly wronged party, but it affects the entire family as well. People make mistakes, but it's what you do with the mistakes that matters. My dad, mom, sisters and I have all been transformed through this process, and God has used a horrible situation for good. :) We're blessed.

Thanks for the comments!