Why is it that a marriage relationship requires hard work? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I lived the bachelor life for quite some time. I didn’t marry until two months before I turned 30. I had lived on my own for a time and then I lived with a roommate, who turned out to be my best man at my wedding. It was a couple of years after moving in that we realized that like the roommate agreement, we hadn’t put in anything about what if one of us gets a girlfriend. (That seemed a little too far-fetched) As it turns out, I was the one who got one and even after the first date, talk was buzzing around our circle of friends. “Well we all know where this is going.” Indeed, we did. My roommate moved into another place and I found another apartment for my future wife and I to live in together.
So then comes the wedding and then comes the honeymoon. When we get back, it’s time to get used to living our lives together as husband and wife with sharing a grocery bill, sleeping in the same bed, and of course sex is involved.
News flash to all of you out there who are unmarried.
This is radically different from anything else.
Now I could write a separate post sometime on why I think living together beforehand is really a disastrous idea, but not now. In fact, it could be when I’m done here you might get some clues as to why I think it’s so foolish. You see, after I made those vows and came home, I had to do my part of the work. I had to get used to sharing my life with someone else. When it was just me or just me and my roommate, for the most part, I could do my own thing. Oh sure, roommates have to make sacrifices for each other, and we did, but it’s not like a binding contract. If one of us had wanted to get out, well we could have I’m sure. Friendship does not require the level of sacrifice that marriage does.
Marriage shows that the pathway to true life is death. Not in a suicidal sense, but dying to the life of self. When you cling to yourself in a marriage, you will lose and in fact, your spouse will lose. What you do to yourself, you do to your spouse. What you do to your spouse, you do to you. There really is something to the whole idea of being one flesh. When you marry, you give up the right to be your own person as it were. You belong to your spouse and your spouse belongs to you.
This is why the marriage relationship can be so difficult at times. We all want to do our own thing and be able to get away with it. We all want there to be no consequences to our actions, but there are in fact consequences. There are prices to pay. There are no actions that have no ramifications. Every little thing you do has an impact. This is also because everything you do builds up a character. You are becoming a kind of person over and over and that is the kind of person that your spouse is going to have to live with. Remember this, in marriage, the greatest gift you give to your spouse ultimately is you.
This is one reason that when a husband wants sex, and in most marriages the husbands are the go-getters (Although I do like how Mark Gungor in his Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage says that he knows some of you men out there are married to women who love sex and want it constantly and can’t get enough and I think I speak on behalf of all men when I say “We hate you.”) and when you ask them what they want, it’s more than just pleasure and a good time. They want their wives. They want them as persons and nothing leaves them feeling closer to their wives than that sexual intimacy.
For a woman, a woman will often want that security from her man. She wants to feel safe and protected and nothing seems to make her feel as safe as the presence of the man in her life. My wife can be someone who can get scared of many things and I, as anyone who sees me knows, am not a big muscular man by any stretch of the imagination. I am actually very much underweight, and yet if I have her in my arms, my wife will feel much safer. What is it that makes her feel safer? It sure isn’t knowing that I’m a powerhouse who can take down anyone who comes after her. It’s just me. I’m what makes her feel safe.
Men and women want something different from each other in marriage. There is something that they do not have in themselves and they seek that in the other, but here’s the deal.
Both parties have to die.
A man will have to sacrifice much of himself for the love of his life. A man will give his time and his money and pass up many other things he would like to do. He’s no longer free to spend every minute of his day at the golf course or be spending all that time with his friends. Now of course, he can do that from time to time and that’s fine. When we lived in Charlotte, my wife knew that on Sunday evenings, I’d go out for a bit with my friends, but if she needed me, she could call and I’d be right there. She just knew that for me, time with my friends was important, just like I want Allie to have time with her female friends apart from me.
But a man has to sacrifice much of that and he does that when he marries, but let’s be sure on one thing. Men would not marry if it were not for sex. I’m not saying a man marries only for sex, but it sure is a high ranking reason. A man sees the beauty of the woman and wants to embrace and take it on and be received by all that beauty. He wants to be as close to the beauty as he possibly can.
And so, this is the death of the woman. A woman wants that kind of security quite often, but what does she have to do. She has to risk herself. She has to put herself in a position of vulnerability, but in order to do that, she must be convinced the person she’s with will not hurt her in any way. She must be willing to make herself totally vulnerable to that person in the most intimate way possible.
The beauty of this all is that the more the persons die to themselves, the more they actually find life. In fact, in the case of sexuality, they find true life in that that kind of love is capable of bringing about a life on its own.
And this is the difficulty of marriage. Our natural tendency is to look out for #1. In marriage, we have to not do that. That means that for the husbands, your wife needs that security from you and she needs you to sacrifice for her. Meanwhile, you wives, your husbands need that intimacy with you. You will have to sacrifice.
And in fact, the more each party sacrifices, the more it will not become a burden. It will become a joy. There will be no harm in giving something to your spouse that is entirely good for them. Their joy will be your joy.
Death is the way to life in marriage, but that life is something beautiful.