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Your marriage has to be bigger than you

A s avid students of the institution of marriage, we are constantly challenged to make our marriage better, and in turn, offer practical solutions to other couples in order to make this world better through the harmony that can be achieved at home. In the process of that hunger to have a prosperous marriage and see that same prosperity in other marriages, we are constantly confronted by our delusions of grandeur as husbands and wives.

We often impose our false sense of importance in our marriages that if we feel our spouses can’t make us happy anymore, we call it quits. The absurdity of such immaturity is that we develop separate interests, independent of each other as a couple, and eventually grow apart. Then, right there, we have a reason to walk our separate ways, don’t we!

For many, marriage is a tool whose primary focus is personal fulfilment and desire. If they find a marriage that makes them happy, they’re happy to stay for as long as that happiness lasts. But marriage isn’t meant to bring you happiness, satisfaction or even wholeness. Contrarily, marriage will reveal just how unhappy, discontented or empty you really are.

It always amazes us how we’d be disciplined in contributing our individual parts at work as part of a team to achieve a purpose much bigger than our job descriptions, but yet in marriage turn around and pull towards different directions and still hope that we’ll somehow magically have happy marriages.

Marriage is bigger than you. It serves a purpose much higher than you. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should never think about yourself, or even stop pursuing your dreams. It doesn’t mean you should lose yourself in marriage. It does however mean your desires, satisfaction and happiness should be located as part of a bigger picture that is inclusive but not selfish.

Our perspective doesn’t deny the importance of personal happiness or the role which marriage can play in satisfying desires. However, we don’t marry to be happy, but a happy marriage is made up of already happy individuals. And happiness in marriage is secondary to a higher purpose. It isn’t supreme.

What you want in marriage is always a negotiation that considers the inclusivity of marriage as well as why are you two married in the first place. During premarital classes, we always challenge couples not only to think about the purpose of marriage as an institution, but also answer why are they getting married to one another and not someone else.

If you, like us believe that God is the Author of marriage, then you’d understand that marriage can’t simply be about the individuals involved. Although it serves the children, marriage can’t be about them either. Understanding that children are temporary in our lives, you build on a very weak foundation to stay in a marriage because of the children.

Marriage forces you to mature and grow in character. It taps on your ability to draw on such high virtues as commitment, loyalty, trust, faithfulness, giving, self-control, unselfishness and unconditional love – all in the context of the security and stability that comes with “until death do us part”.

To someone that believes in God like us, marriage is primarily about serving Him. It is about reflecting the relationship our Creator has with His creation. To us, marriage is primarily purposed to mirror both the type of love God has for us, as well as the structure He instituted to govern our relationship with Him.

It’s not primarily about our happiness. It seems inappropriate that one would divorce another because they’re unhappy or have grown apart as though they had nothing to do with it. If you grow apart, you can do the opposite of what you’ve been doing to grow apart, and grow back together. It was your choices that made you grow apart, and it’ll be your choice to grow back together. Rushing to the next one won’t help, if your posture hasn’t changed. We often find that many couples charge their cell phones daily, but let their marriages run out of power and die a lot easier. If your smart phone receives more daily charging than your spouse, then you’re spending way too much time talking to the wrong people.

Point is, there is no such thing as irreconcilable differences in marriage. What we find exists, is pride, selfishness, immaturity and hard-heartedness by one or both spouses that they’d be willing to sacrifice their marriage at the altar of divorce often without exercising due diligence or acknowledging that the marriage is bigger than them.

The fact that it’s our choice who and when we marry, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s our choice to abandon that decision anytime we choose for whatever reason. Life does not revolve around us. Your marriage is part of a bigger picture that affects you as individuals, your children, families, society and possibly your eternity even.

Besides, what if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy, but holy? What if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God? What if with marriage, God had an end in mind that went beyond your happiness, comfort and desire to be happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make you holy more than happiness?

1 Comment

  1. Mpho says:

    Hi Mo & Phindi
    After reading this I am left with more questions than answers with regards to my marriage, and this piece has really hit home in more ways than realized. We have been having this cycle/phases(one has identified the patterns and times of changes or occurrence during the year) of problems in our union that I at times think that we were not ready, I would want talk about the things that my partner do but this will come across as shifting the blame onto her and I also want be part of the steps to the solution.
    . for my part I am a type of a person who is not impulsive and I will stretch the time to the limit before I react and this applies to anything and anybody and this tends to frustrate my partner and she will then take decisions that are at times not beneficial to the family or affect us negatively.
    . at times you can notice the frustration affecting the children and seem abusive to the children(which are boy children and one has to exercise caution and restraint considering the scourge of abuse in the country.) and this also effectively limit my response to reprimanding the wrong doing on the side of the children as you do not want to take part in what seem like the abuse.
    . Lately what was always ours seem to have now changed to mine and yours when we need to promote a united front when dealing with the children, or relatives and the community. Finances and assets has now changed the labels to mine or yours.
    . my partner hates going to Counselling or us seeking outside help as she is of the opinion that whoever I suggest will automatically take my side of story and we will gang-up on her.

    My situation is not critical but it is tiring and energy draining that one has taken an attitude of let just go through the motions/phases (as I question the love for each other)

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