If you’re beginning to consider marriage, I’m guessing you – like me – never feel a shortage of advice from the people around you. Everyone has an opinion about your relationship and your potential spouse, and some of them are strangely passionate about “helping” you make that big decision.
Many married couples (and other singles) repeatedly warn how difficult, draining, and even boring marriage can be. Christians can be the worst at this. Young couples in the church are often bombarded with messages about selflessness, sacrifice, service and humility in marriage, with very little (if any) mention of the joys that marriage can bring. After being warned about the inevitable fights over sex, money, in-laws, careers, kids, time with friends, priorities, expectations, what kind of tires to buy, who gets to name the goldfish, and who takes out the trash, marriage sounds exhausting and not quite like what the Bible describes.
And frankly, it doesn’t sound very fun.
Yes, marriage is difficult. And yes, it’s important to seek advice and think about the challenges that are sure to come. But I also get the sense that this isn’t how it was meant to be. Proverbs 18:22 says “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (NIV). God chose the analogy of marriage to describe our relationship with Him. We have many of the same expectations for our relationship with God (selflessness, sacrifice, service and humility) that we do with our spouse, but we rarely speak so negatively about our relationship with Him!
If God designed most of us to one day marry, why are so many couples today painting such a bleak picture for our generation?
Recently I heard Dr. Juli Slattery say that a unique set of challenges comes during every season of life. Yes, marriage includes unique and difficult situations that force you outside of yourself, but life is also challenging when you’re single, divorced or widowed. You will face challenges whether you marry or not. This sounds bleak and discouraging, but I actually found this to be good news.
God never promised that marriage—or life—would be easy. You’ve probably heard that you can’t go into marriage expecting your spouse to fix all your problems, meet all your needs, and make your life perfect. I recognize that as someone who has never been married, I’m sure I have no idea how hard some days will be once I have a wife. I admit that. But the relationship between a husband and a wife is supposed to be a beautiful thing ordained by God, not a drag and inconvenience we complain about to our friends.
So, if you’re already married and have caught yourself complaining recently, maybe it’s time for a fresh perspective. And if you’re single, don’t be on the lookout for a spouse who will fix all your problems. We will all go through tough times, no matter our relationship status on Facebook. But if you desire a biblical marriage and seek God above all else, I believe everything will work out just fine.
As long as you still get to name the goldfish.