For most of history, traditional marriage roles and responsibilities brought partners to marriage and guided their life together. From peasants to princesses, marriage was historically seen as an economic arrangement, fostering productivity and survival or keeping wealth in the family. Often partners expected little romance and true intimacy, although there would be lots of sex, albeit inevitably unfulfilling especially for women. And the rigours of work, children and other responsibilities in the extended family and community would focus couples on more practical issues for much of their short lives together.
However, as political, social and economic conditions changed into the 21st century, people woke up to newer options of achieving happiness in their marriages. Traditional roles no longer dictate behaviour in marriage as people develop their own ways of conducting themselves in their relationships. People now demand more of each other in marriage, and they expect more from marriage.
As in life generally, people who set goals and work towards achieving them, are more likely to succeed and are happier. Couples that aren’t clear about why they are together, and how to reach their dreams as a team, often react to personal interests, peer influence, family pressure and crisis events. They are likely to move from conflict to conflict because they feel they have to take everything to heart and challenge one another on everything as they lack direction that focuses them on the bigger picture.
These often negative influences typically do not inspire intimacy, affection, security or meaning. They leave couples often hopeless and with no confidence to move forward with the marriage altogether. Since love and good looks aren’t enough to sustain marriage, couples need a shared purpose to guide their fulfilling and satisfying journey till death do them part.
One of the main reasons most marriages crash and burn is because couples initially become infatuated with the idea of love, and fail to appreciate the purpose of marriage and what their role is in fulfilling that purpose. If you’re talking about sharing your life and entire being with another person, it’s probably a good idea to get on the same page with one another about what that means before you say “I do”.
Nothing in our view, tears a couple apart faster than partners that are pulling towards different directions. Love spoils so quickly when it lacks direction. It matters very little how much you love one another, and together share many common interests. If you don’t share a common vision that’s powerful enough to pull you towards a goal bigger than yourselves as a couple, then you’re not only going to fumble in the dark, but you’ll also even fight over the pettiest of issues because you’re living aimlessly.
You’re also likely to lead different lives and lifestyles while married, which will create disorder and a type of schizophrenia for your marriage. And that is a chaotic environment to raise children. but a shared purpose in marriage refocuses you to keep important things important.
Common purpose, in our view, doesn’t necessarily mean doing the same job or sharing a similar career. It means having a common appreciation of the purpose of marriage, and having a mutual agreement on how the two of you, as a team, would best play your roles in accomplishing a marriage that your children can model in the way you treat one another, raise your family and carry yourselves as a unit to society.
Developing a common purpose for your marriage begins with understanding and being confident in who you are as an individual, and where you fit in the broader picture of life. A purpose-centred marriage begins with a purpose-centred life. And consciously, as a single person with a purpose-centred life, you’d then attract someone that fits into that picture like a puzzle.
Speaking of a puzzle, have you ever noticed how each piece is different from the other, yet fits in so perfectly to help form a complete picture? In marriage we bring our uncompromised uniquenesses, our individual senses of self, as well as our sense of direction in life in order to form a complete picture puzzle that actually makes sense.
In our view, developing a common purpose for your marriage ultimately starts with understanding the eternal relationship Christ has with the church. Marriage is a temporary covenant relationship between a man and a woman that is ultimately aimed at modelling on earth the eternal covenantal relationship between Christ and the church. It is temporary in that it doesn’t exist beyond this lifetime. You marry until death do you part. However, we, the church collectively have only one ultimate husband, Jesus Christ. And our marriage with Him lasts eternally.
When we got married after a mere 10 months of knowing each other, we knew we were drawn to one another deeply. Although we were to learn later what love actually is, we thought the love we had for each other was enough. But boy, were we in for a surprise! Through the first five years of our marriage, we had to be deliberate students of each other. We had to honestly re-examine our intentions, and develop a common goal. And we thank God for that grace and guidance, otherwise we would have pulled to different directions in our marriage, and only He knows where we would be today.