Musings on Marriage

Happily ever after?
Happily ever after?

Marriage is meant to be the joining of two individuals into “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Unfortunately, there’s a lot of severing of body parts in the realm of marital bliss because many people don’t see it as a binding, lifetime contract.

Or maybe our society’s idea of being faithful to your word is so diminished that every contract can be negotiated or terminated at a later date. Why does it have to be binding? A lawyer somewhere should be able to get me out of it if I decide I want out later.

People are flesh and blood. Businesses might be made of brick, mortar, wood or stone. Flesh cannot be patched in the same way a building can.

When business contracts are broken, people lose jobs, money and security. On the other hand, when marriages fail, people bleed.

Contemplating causes for different outcomes keeps my mind occupied. Rather than analyzing data like a scientist, I consider people and their actions and attempt to determine motivation. In my warped way, I think this helps me create more realistic characters in the stories I write.

Two important people in my world have suffered through the agony of amputating a spouse in recent months. Sounds painful, right? Yep. If you think divorce is the easy way out, it’s time to rethink your options.

Two hearts become one. Two lives become one. Two people become one. Oh, those are just romantic words on Hallmark greeting cards which accompany wedding gifts. Those poetic souls understand marriage.

Some people don’t give their hearts fully to marriage, causing the marriage to fail. Many individuals want to keep the single life they love and that dooms a marriage. Even if you keep your heart and life, the two people are joined into one flesh. Cut your flesh. It bleeds. Cut your marriage, you bleed.

I see a few broad reasons why marriages fail. I’m musing here, not accusing. My list isn’t meant to be all encompassing or judgmental. I’m just doing my people analysis thing.

Marriage ends because:

  • People have the wrong expectations. If you think the other person will be your “everything,” you’re condemning them to fail. They will never be perfect. Newsflash: neither will you. Expect success, not perfection. Success is something you can work toward, while perfection is unattainable.
  • People lack commitment. They say the average person will change jobs every three years. Those people retiring now after spending 30 or more years with the same company are no longer the pattern for younger generations. If you’re unhappy, move along. Unfortunately, having this attitude about marriage relegates it to failure.
  • People hold onto secrets. Secrets aren’t just about infidelity or impulsive spending or gambling. Sometimes one spouse needs support, but rather than seeking it from their mate, they pretend it doesn’t exist or search for it elsewhere. The best relationships are built on the foundation of truth.
  • No one wants to be accountable. The “it’s her fault” finger of blame is as old as Adam and Eve (see Genesis 3:12-13). Unfortunately, society seems to be promoting this sort of excuse-making. If a child is substandard, look to the parents and find fault. If a marriage is unhappy, it must be the other person’s fault.
  • Everyone feels entitled to happiness. After all, the “Declaration of Independence” makes the “pursuit of happiness” a basic human right. Well, someday when people are perfect, happiness will reign. Until then, problems happen and bomb our happy lives. Rather than run away from the problem, we need to face it down. Happiness is fleeting, but the joy that comes from keeping your word can sustain you in the dark times.

Marriage binds two people. When two people commit to the contract of marriage, “they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).

Can you end your marriage contract? Sure. But if you think it’s going to be painless, cut off the end of your index finger. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Why do you think so many people avoid marriage? Why isn’t marriage considered a lifetime commitment anymore?

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.