A couple of years ago right after I got engaged I was at a retreat of sorts with a bunch of men. One night we were on the back porch enjoying a beverage and a cigar when a gentlemen I knew started to talk to me about marriage.
Now as we who have been unmarried for any amount of time know, usually this sets off the “Crap, here comes the platitudes” warning sirens. In this case I was pretty ready for that conversation but instead it went a different direction. This guy and I know each other moderately well and he’s probably 15-20 years older than me. He asked me if I was excited which I said that I was.
Then he did what almost no one does – he told me marriage was worth it. He said that he and his wife have had their struggles (I knew this, which was why I was ready for the platitudes about marriage being hard, enjoying my singleness etc.). But then he said basically this, “You know what though, I wouldn’t trade any of it. Marriage is good. I mean even after all these years, I go to bed and she’s there, next to me, that’s what its all about!” Amen brother, Amen.
A lot of people, including – and maybe particularly – in the Christian community have sort of created a bunch of general statements about marriage that frankly are just sort of false. I think it happens for lots of reasons. Part of it is an attempt to knock down the marriage idol. (One of the funny things is that you and I need to give up the marriage idol but the Church doesn’t have to apparently). Also, just to be honest, what a lot of Christian married people remember about being single is being 23 and single – not being 33 and single. I mean yeah, 23 was fun. Not better, but way easier.
I’ve talked about some of the big falsehoods such as the Marriage is Hard Movement and how singles should take advantage of their singleness, do more ministry and focus on God. You can click the link and check those out. Today I want to talk about two simple lies that if you are single, you can feel free to let go of.
First is the idea that marriage doesn’t really answer any of life’s questions. I remember talking with friend who got married in her early 30s. She told me of a conversation she had with her mom while she was engaged where she, trying to sound holy, said, “I know that it doesn’t change everything and that I still have a lot to work on.” Her mom responded, “Actually it changes a lot and it answers one of the biggest questions you’ve ever asked.”
While it is true that marriage doesn’t answer all of life’s questions or solve all of your problems, it does answer some big ones. For example, “Will I get married?” “Who will I marry?” Those are some pretty dang big questions that most people ask a lot. They can dominate your thoughts. “What will she/he be like?” There are some bonus questions too. Who will I live with next year? Will I ever have sex?
The point is, marriage actually settles a lot – and that’s a good thing.
A second one that especially as a guy I heard all the time was, “Just because you get married doesn’t mean that you won’t look at other women.” I bought into that one all the way up until I met my wife.
Here’s the scoop. Might you notice an attractive lady that walks into the room? Yes you are not now blind because you are married. But you know what is awesome? It doesn’t matter. Know why? – You’re Married! Do you know what the means? No more having to size everyone you meet up to see if they might be someone you could pursue – or if they might like you. No more, “Hey she’s cute – I wonder if she’s a Christian?” No more trying to figure out if they are hot enough, fun enough, smart enough, Christian enough or any other enoughs. It doesn’t matter. At all.
After over 20 years of asking those questions I can honestly tell you that I’ve never once thought about it. Now you say, “Justin you’re just in newlywed bliss and so on.” Whatever. Let me tell you, not having to deal with that is awesome. The question of who I’m with has been answered. Yes I could go out and screw that up – but that’s a different deal. That’s called open rebellion, not looking for a mate. Two different things.
The affair question is a separate one. Sexual sin can still happen. That has to do with sexual desire, temptation and how marriage plays into that. That is a different blog post. But as someone who has spent too much time trying to determine if I could date this or that person, it is awesome to have that answered. I was constantly looking and sizing stuff up. Then I met my wife, and that was that. The decision has been made. It’s totally different. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.
Marriage won’t answer all of your core questions. God answers those. It won’t solve all of your problems. You’re still you. You still have a lot of your problems. Haha. But it does answer some of them and you don’t have to pretend that it doesn’t. In fact you can trust that it will. You can even go ahead and want it to happen.
Do you have a post about how you met and dated/courted your wife and your thoughts around that experience? I’d love to read the story.