The following post is a guest post from my friend Andrew, who has the best marriage of anyone I know. The post below is pat one of a two part series. Part two will be out later today.
Some Thoughts on Marriage (Part 1 of 2)
I (Andrew) have been married for 7 years now and thought I would share a couple of things that I’ve learned over this time that I really hadn’t given much thought about before.
Real commitment means no back door!
No one walks down the aisle thinking maybe this marriage will work out okay. Everyone thinks that their marriage will last forever. But with about one third of married couples getting divorced, you need real commitment and a ‘no back door’ policy to make your marriage go the distance.
My wife and I took premarital counseling before we were married. This is something I would highly recommend as it helped us to identify potential stumbling blocks before we actually ran into them. Pre-marital counseling is not about someone telling you what you should do. Rather, it helps you identify and work through things that commonly come between couples and things that might be areas of conflict specifically for you – e.g., finances, expectations, roles, in-laws, etc.
One of the things that my Christian pastor made very sure that my wife and I understood before he would marry us is that marriage is meant to be for life, and if you want it to be for life you have to make sure there is no ‘back door’. You need to both go into marriage with the understanding that this is a permanent arrangement and that there is no way out, no back door.
In my vow I made it clear to my wife that I was ‘in’ for better or for worse. It’s the ‘for worse’ part that you really need to be committed for. Every marriage will eventually experience some difficult times, and it’s during those really challenging times that your marriage will be put to the test, not during the easy times.
Marriage is not about you! But it can help you grow!
Most of us automatically take care of ourselves first, me included. However, I soon came to realize that marriage is in fact about elevating your spouse and putting them first. It’s not giving 50% and getting 50%. It’s about giving 100% and expecting nothing in return. It’s about building your spouse up to be all they can be.
One of the painful benefits of marriage is that it will make you a better person. I say ‘painful’ because in marriage everything is magnified. If you have a disagreement with a friend you can just put some distance between each other and things will probably work themselves out. In marriage you can’t put distance between you and your spouse because they are always there. You have to deal with things. This is what makes you a better person, because you find out things about yourself that you didn’t realize before and you have an opportunity either to work on these things or to harden your heart.
For example, I always thought of myself as an incredibly patient person, but over time I have found that this is in fact something that I need to work on. In his book “Sacred Marriage”, author Gary Thomas suggests that the purpose of marriage is to make us holy, not (only) happy.
UPDATE: I spotted this related post on the importance of marriage on Hot Air.