Change Your Perceptions: What Marriage Is Not About
Too often, many people think that marriage will fill a void in their lives or make them happy. They think marriage will somehow enhance their lives. Oh how wrong!
Wrong perceptions about what marriage really is, are often the cause of many issues between couples. As such, you must understand that:
- Marriage is not meant to enhance your life. Your life will not automatically become better simply by getting married. In fact, in many ways, your life will become even more challenging as you learn to live with someone else and compromise on certain subjects.
- Marriage is not meant to help you define or give you an identity. If you don’t know who you are before getting married, you will surely lose yourself even more as you take on new roles you never had to assume before, whether it is becoming a husband, a wife and/or a parent. Your identity must be rooted before you get married. You and your future spouse are meant to complement one another not define each other.
- Marriage is not about the Hollywood perfect life where husband and wife always seem to get along and live behind this beautiful white picket fence. We love romance so much that we want to believe this perfect painted picture of marriage but the reality is far different. Marriage will challenge you and at times will involve frictions, conflicts, and misunderstandings. The couple in the movie that always seem to complete each other’s sentences in reality can often be a couple struggling to communicate in a way that both parties can understand each other.
- It’s also not just about being able to have sex without sin. Though God created sexual intimacy for our benefit in marriage, He never meant for us to enter marriage simply to acquire a license to have sex.
- Having a wedding is not building a marriage. Your wedding day will be exactly that, just ONE day. Your marriage is about a relationship for the rest of your life. If people invest even as much energy, effort and time into their marriage as they do on their wedding day and preparation, marriages would be a lot more successful. Focus more on your marriage than you do on your wedding.
- Marriage is definitely not about finding or unlocking God’s purpose for your life. It is proven that when you know your purpose before entering marriage, you will attract a spouse who is also operating in their purpose and wants to see you reach your full potential. Though your spouse can be a purpose-mate to support you in operating in your purpose, marriage will not reveal your purpose. Only God can do that. Only the Creator can tell the creature why it was created.
- And most of all, marriage will not improve your singleness. It will only expose it in many ways. Many people are married and still think or wish to operate as if they were single, unable to let go of their selfish desires, wanting to do only what pleases them, and unwilling to compromise. Marriage will not improve you or remove these traits and attitudes from you. It will only reveal them to you as a mirror reflecting the dirt that’s stuck on your face but unable to clean you up.
What Marriage Actually Requires
Once you have an understanding of what marriage isn’t and you understand that your fairy tale is just a fairy tale, you need to know what marriage actually takes.
Marriage will test your communication skills. It will require that you learn to express yourself in a way that your future spouse can understand and with words that won’t cut like a knife. Also, it will often require that you try to understand the other person’s perspective even though it may be difficult to do so, especially if you are emotional about something. Many at times, you will have to put your emotions aside and realize that it is not all about you. Indeed, you will need to be less selfish and self-centered while becoming more sacrificial. Self has no place in marriage.
Although love is important, it takes more than just love to keep a marriage going. It takes making a daily conscious decision to love, to forgive, to forget, to listen, and to stay committed to each other even when you do not feel like it. You cannot operate only based on feelings in marriage. You must operate out of principle: the principle to love and to stay committed to fighting for your marriage and invest the time and effort needed to do so.
Remember, there are no exit signs in marriage. Once you’ve said I do, you do for life. You are now one, one unit, bonded in love, in covenant and it cannot be broken (unless there’s a biblical foundation for it-a topic for another day). Therefore, before you enter into this permanent covenant, consider if:
it’s God’s will for your life,
you are actually ready for this,
your future spouse is ready,
your future spouse is God-approved,
you have chosen your purpose-mate or are settling for less than God’s best,
and if the one you have chosen draws you closer to God.
In reality, there is much to consider before getting married but if one or more of the conditions above aren’t met, it is reason enough for you to abstain from getting married to the person you are considering. If God is not the first priority in your future spouse’s life, they will not know how to truly prioritize and love you. They must have a pre-established relationship with God. Otherwise, you will be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Before Getting Married
Throughout our lives, we prepare for many things. We prepare for college. Prepare for our career. Prepare for a baby coming into the world. So why aren’t we preparing for marriage as adequately as we should? Before getting married, you need to go through your own preparation with God. As you do so, you also need to determine what are the things you are ready to negotiate with your future spouse and those that you are not willing to compromise on. Is having a child an option or a must? Does he have to be 6 feet tall? Does she need to be a stay at home wife and mother? There are so many things to consider. As you get to know your potential future spouse, it is also important to consider some keys areas such as how you communicate with other each, and deal with conflicts. Some topics should also be discussed prior to making a life commitment like which areas of your life are still an issue for you, any wounds that you have not healed from, issues of commitment, your strengths, your weaknesses, health, finances, career plans, relationship with family, current and future goals.
Keep in mind that you are about to merge your lives together and it will have eternal consequences. As a result, you must be intentional about your preparation for marriage and be clear on where you stand when it comes to important issues. So before getting married, discuss all these important topics with your future spouse as it will allow you to determine not only your readiness for marriage but theirs as well. In addition, it help you determine whether or not you can actually build a life together. Can two walk together except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3)
Thus, consider your motivations for marriage and determine whether you are truly ready to do what it takes to not only be married, but also stay married. And are you ready to pay the price for marriage? Because marriage has a price, and this price is your singleness.