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Marriage is forever

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Marriage is forever

Marriage is forever

In our society marriage is the structure people use to create a stable family unit. A man and woman marry with the intention of staying together for life. Within that bond they usually have children and raise them. This arrangement is good for the children. It guarantees that the two parents are totally committed to the children and to each other.

I can remember thinking as a teenager that marriage would be natural and easy. You fall in llove and then you get married and you live happily ever after. Right? It turns out that that view of the world is a little naïve because it leaves out the most important part. To my teenage mind marriage was about love. To an adult, marriage is about commitment. It is about staying in love and staying together for a lifetime despite the fact that both partners are individuals who change over time. Marriage itself is easy. Two people can gget married any time they want. The challenge of marriage is making it work for a lifetime.

The question you might have as a teenager is, „What could possibly be hard about being married? What could possibly be ‘challenging’ about iit? Once I find a person who I am madly in love with and who is madly in love with me, marriage will be easy. Our love will keep us together no matter what happens.“ What I would like to do in this chapter is suggest to you several reasons why marriage can be challenging, and show you why marriage is a big step that should not be taken lightly.

Understanding the Challenge of Marriage

The first few months of most marriages are easy. This phase is called the „honeymoon phase“ and may last up to a year. The honeymoon phase exists because the couple is enjoying the significant advantages of being married: living together, being together constantly, looking toward the ffuture as a team, planning a family, sexual intimacy, trust, closeness and so on. The honeymoon phase is also aided by the effects of romantic love, which tend to mask problems and differences. The honeymoon period starts to end as the couple comes to the realization that marriage lasts a lifetime. Let’s look at some of the things that make a life-long marriage interesting:

• Marriage is a lifetime commitment. This commitment can have a tremendous number of advantages: stability, financial sstrength and unity, infinite trust, etc. However, it can have a paralyzing disadvantage if one or both parties decide to abuse the commitment. Imagine a person who is told, „We are giving you your job for life—you can never be fired.“ Most people will continue to do a good job, but a few people would take that message as a cue to become extremely lazy. Marriage can cause the same effect. Both partners have to work hard to avoid complacency.

• Marriage means that everything is shared. Sharing means that every major decision involves a team decision. If both parties do not agree, then conflict arises. Most people enjoy having a certain amount of freedom in their lives. Marriage instead forces a great deal of compromise. If two people have different spending habits (i.e., one likes saving money and the other likes spending it), it can cause immense strain.

• Marriage involves being with the same person for long periods of time. While the couple is still „in love,“ this is easy. Once romantic love’s effects wear off and the relationship is driven more by friendship than sexual attraction, however, little habits can become irritating. Imagine living in an RV with your bbest friend for 10 years. After awhile even your best friend can become annoying. Countering this natural effect requires skill and creativity.

Marriage is something like a big amplifier. When things are going well, the team effect of marriage makes them go very well. When a marriage works it is a source of infinite peace and joy. However, when things are not working marriage tends to amplify things in a negative direction. It can make bad things worse because it can create a trap.

Have you ever noticed that many married couples spend a lot of time fighting? Have you ever wondered why that happens? It happens because at any given moment the two people in the marriage may want to do two different things that are mutually exclusive. For example:

• You want to go to your best friend’s wedding while your spouse wants to go to „the big game“ on the same day.

• You want to go to church but your spouse wants to stay home on Sunday morning.

• You want the house to be neat but your spouse does not care.

• You want to buy a new car but your spouse wants to save the money and continue ffixing the old one.

• You want to live close to your family but so do your spouse and the families live 1,000 miles apart.

• You want to buy a new riding lawn mower but your spouse wants a new sofa.

• You want to paint the house blue but your spouse prefers yellow.

• You want to spend extra time at work but your spouse wants you to be home for dinner.

Imagine facing one or two situations like this every day, day in and day out, for 50 years. That is what makes marriage challenging. That is why you want to pick a good marriage partner. If you can find someone who will work with you daily and love you enough to solve all of the „little problems“ that arise naturally in a marriage, then you will have a successful marriage that brings you joy throughout your life.

Finding a Good Partner

Because marriage is so strongly tied to family, because it is so permanent, because it is such a big step and because the cost of entry and exit is so high, adults put a lot of emphasis on it. So does the community. When you and your spouse get married,

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