Marriage Meets Our Deepest Needs

I mentioned last month about how we have become obsessed in our culture with programs like Married at First Sight or the new kid on the block, Date Night.

As I also said, I do not watch these programs, nevertheless, it is interesting to hear in the promos what people have to say about why they are prepared to put themselves on display in this way.

They speak about finding someone to share their life with and building a genuine partnership with another.

They all want a relationship that will last a lifetime.

And they want to be loved for who they are.

These desires run deep within all of us – scratch the surface and you discover that we are all looking for them – and they are part and parcel of what it means to be human.

But where do such notions come from?

For some of us, the answer will surprise us because these basic expressions of our humanness are found in the Bible!

Genesis 2 recounts for us the events surrounding the first wedding in history between Adam and Eve and it also unveils the core principles at the heart of marriage.

Marriage is about partnership.

When God announces that He intends to make for Adam a “…helper suitable” for him, He is stating that He will give Adam a partner in life, Eve, who will be his support, bring out the best in him and above all, be his counterpart.

It is tragic to see the constant struggle that goes on between the two sexes over equality when it is as plain as day that in the beginning God created men and women fully equal, both of them expressing what it means to be in “His image”.

The best marriages are about partnership where the husband and wife intentionally seek to bring out the best in each other.

Marriage is about permanency.

For the man to become “united” to his wife, or as the Old English says, “to cleave to his wife” conveys a simple but profound truth.

It simply meant that the husband was to stick like glue to his wife.

Every marriage will have its tough days and tense moments. These are the times when we are faced with a choice – will we walk or will we stay? If we are committed for life, then we will choose the latter.

Marriage is about choosing wisely and well, clinging to each other with affection and loyalty – no matter what.

Marriage is about knowing each other deeply.

This is, perhaps, our deepest longing – to be known and loved for who we truly are.

In those very familiar words of the wedding ceremony, taken from Genesis 2, we are told that the “man and the woman were both naked and not ashamed.”

This concept is beautifully described as a husband and wife being emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and physically naked before each other – “stripped and undisguised and totally open with each other” as one author has put it.

When a couple share their deepest emotions, thoughts, ideas, fears, hurts, celebrations and myriad other things, they build true intimacy and a strong, secure foundation for their physical relationship.

I believe that learning to know each other deeply will take a lifetime and, after a relationship with God, it is the most rewarding thing in the world.

It has been a gift from God for me to watch Karen grow into the woman that she is today as we have walked the road of our marriage together. As she has matured in her relationship with God and as a person I have had the enormous privilege of watching her blossom in so many areas – I can honestly say that I know her more deeply now than when we were first married!

Partnership. Permanency. Being truly known.

Deep desires that are met through the gift of marriage.

Marriage is Not a Fairytale Ending

I can honestly say that I have never watched a single episode of Married at First Sight or The Farmer Wants a Wife and I do not intend to – the advertisements are enough!

What strikes me is that the people appearing on these shows are not so much looking for someone to love as they are for the feeling of being in love.

The comments often focus on “the wonderful feeling of being in love” or “being that special someone”.

At least, that is what I see on the ads!

It seems to me that our obsession with these programs stems from a profound unhappiness with our own life – that somehow it is boring and mundane; that it needs a little “spicing up!”

Perhaps we even feel a bit like that in our marriage.

But life consists of many things, including the exciting and the mundane. Listen to the words of King Solomon:

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven…”

In other words, there is a set time for everything that happens to us during our lives as well as there being a specific period of time for each of them.

Solomon describes many of these events in the words that follow: times for birth and death, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, loving and hating, war and peace.

None of these events, or others, always occur all the time – they each are given a set time.

And none of them lasts forever – they have a period of duration that can sometimes be long or short, depending on the circumstances.

Sometimes life is vibrant and exciting but sometimes it can be plain boring!

Can you relate to that? I most certainly can! This is the ebb and flow of life and it is grounded in reality.

I am writing this way because so many people manage their relationships as if they were living in a TV program or soap opera.

We all love the romantic movie where the knight rides off into the sunset with his princess and they live happily ever after. We conclude that this is how marriage is…but is it?

In our own marriages we discover that there are times of happiness but also conflict and in extreme cases, it seems to be only conflict.

What happened to the romantic ending?

For one thing, we don’t have the privilege of seeing how things worked out for the knight and the princess, but I’m certain they will have had their tense moments as well.

We have been duped into thinking that happiness in marriage is merely about finding this wonderful person or having “the feeling of being in love” and then everything will automatically flow from there – we have been “Hollywood-ised” about love and marriage!

Every marriage, even the best ones, have their times and seasons: times of laughter and passion and yes, times of conflict and boredom.

The solution is to try and make sense of these times.

This is why Solomon also said, “God has made everything beautiful in its time…” It is God who brings meaning to every moment of our lives. We can only ultimately be completely fulfilled in Him, not through some soap opera or unrealistic view about love and relationships.

And He is also able to bring meaning and fulfillment to our marriages.

A growing marriage begins its life when two people say “I do” to each other and to God. Then they are truly free to grow into unselfish people who find meaning in the times and seasons of their relationship with each other and with God.

Don’t Fake It this February

It’s February and this is the month when we celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Sadly, what was once a time for lovers to declare and affirm their love for each other has simply become another exercise for retailers to encourage people to spend, spend, spend!

How easily our society is hoodwinked into thinking that spending money on exorbitant and highly priced gifts is the way in which you show the depth of your love for another!

Too often, when the gifts have lost their lustre and the initial *flush of romance has cooled, couples find themselves in the following situation described poetically by Adrian Plass:

Sunday is a funny day,
It starts with lots of noise.
Mummy rushes round with socks,
And Daddy shouts, ‘You boys!’

Then Mummy says, ‘Now don’t blame them,
You know you’re just as bad,
You’ve only just got out of bed,
It really makes me mad!’

My mummy is a Christian,
My daddy is as well,
My mummy says ‘Oh, heavens!’
My daddy says ‘Oh, hell!’

And when we get to church at last,
It’s really very strange,
Cos Mum and Dad stop arguing,
And suddenly they change.

At church my mum and dad are friends,
They get on very well,
But no one knows they’ve had a row,
And I’m not gonna tell.

People often come to them,
Because they seem so nice,
And Mum and Dad are very pleased
To give them some advice.

They tell them Christian freedom
Is worth an awful lot,
But I don’t know what freedom means,
If freedom’s what they’ve got.

Daddy loves the meetings,
He’s always at them all,
He’s learning how to understand
The letters of St Paul.

But Mummy says, ‘I’m stuck at home
To lead my Christian life,
It’s just as well for blinkin’ Paul
He didn’t have a wife.’

I once heard my mummy say
She’d walk out of his life,
I once heard Daddy say to her
He’d picked a rotten wife.

They really love each other,
I really think they do.
I think the people in the church
Would help them – if they knew.

Growing a love that lasts a lifetime is not the result of expensive gifts or grand declarations of extravagance.

Love that lasts a lifetime is forged in the fires of adversity.

It is the fruit of a couple who honestly face the truth about themselves as individuals and are prepared to work for positive change and growth.

Love that lasts a lifetime grows in the seedbed of honest communication.

It is born out by travelling the hard road of dealing with one’s junk.

It is recognising that the person you are married to or in love with is not perfect…and neither are you.

It is learning to accept those imperfections in each other and realising that they can actually work in your favour.

There is enough fakery and pretend love in the world already, so why continue to go along with it.

We have become so enamoured with the version of “love” portrayed on our TV and computer screens that we have forgotten what the real thing looks like!

So do something radical this Valentines’ Day.

Instead of an expensive gift why not invest yourself into your relationship?

Ask yourself what it is that you truly love about your partner.

Write them down. (In a card or a letter – not an email – remember what writing is?!)

And then give it to your loved one.

Spend time together talking about the things that you love about each other.

And then plan and dream about how you can build on that in the coming year.

Don’t settle for what our culture says is true love – discover it’s wonder and beauty for yourselves!

Happy Valentine’s Day!