Why Get Married?
I’ve never been close to getting married. Thinking about it, I could never vocalize why I wanted to, I just knew that I did. It’s made me take a good look at what I think marriage would satisfy in my life.
Who was I and what did I have to show for my life so far?
Falling into the comparison trap, I was not like most other women my age: married and with more than one child. Yet in the midst of self-reflection, I’ve come to believe the gift and grace of turning older and still being single. Whatever unrealistic expectations of what I think marriage should be has given way to learning what it truly is.
If you look at the news or celebrity magazines, you’ll see that we live in a time where marriage is both idolized and feared. What does that mean for the Christian woman and man who is looking for another to blend our lives with? I truly believe that before we can have the successful marriages we’re praying for, we need to be open and honest about what we think marriage can (and can’t) for us.
What Marriage Won’t Solve
#1. Creating False Idols
We were all born with a God-shaped hole in our hearts but without knowing Who could truly fill it, we tried to fill it with the dream of a perfect man. It’s been my prayer that the man I marry would love God more than I do but because of the deceitfulness of my heart, my attention and affections turn from God to man. Truthfully, there’s a part of me that is scared to like someone again because of it. I know that it’s in his arms I’ll seek comfort instead of seeking God’s face. It’s his opinions I’ll look to instead of the Word of God. It’s in His eyes, I’ll search for affirmation rather than who God says I am.
It is humbling to admit that in my heart I can be more like Gomer than like Mary; I can search for love in all the wrong places than to sit at His feet and have it lavished upon me.
Charm may be deceitful but I fall for it every.single.time and the idol becomes erected towering high in my heart. But God is a jealous God; a consuming fire that will not be quenched. He reminds you that a fallen man can not take away the place of His spotless Son. There is no man on earth who can love us as unconditionally and perfectly as He can.
#2. Earning Society’s Stamp of Approval
For some the highest life achievement may be getting their Master’s or PhD. For many others including myself it’s been marriage. After all, isn’t it the normal progression of life to have a marriage and children? If that is missing then it must mean that something is missing in us. So there are hundreds of websites that can help you find the ideal mate (and if you have, bless you!). You need to be attentive to the double standard message society gives you: there’s either something wrong with you if you’re not married or you’re tempted in a thousand ways if you are.
If you don’t think you’re trying to earn society’s approval what about earning the approval of your friends or family? Eventually, the summer will end and the fall will bring about the start of family get togethers like Thanksgiving. It will only be a matter of time before an aunt or uncle asks if there’s anyone special in your life(sigh). It can feel like a personal failure if you have to tell them that another years has passed and still no boo or bae to call your own.
One of the things I love about the Man, Jesus, is that He walked on the earth for 33 years and was never married. His first miracle was at a wedding and yet He never celebrated His own…at least not here on earth. He’s waiting for a heavenly wedding, the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, to join together with His bride, the Church. He went against the norms of the society He lived in knowing that a greater joy was waiting for Him beyond the Cross.
#3. Quenching Emotional Thirst
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman in John 4, she was alone at Jacob’s well. I love their exchange and see what was beneath the surface. Living with her fifth man, Jesus pointed out that while she could drink from earthly waters that would never satisfy, He could give her a fountain of springing up into everlasting life that would quench her emotional thirst for love.
After years of singleness and loneliness, the thought of a relationship and a godly one at that seems close to impossible. You have a hard time believing that there is someone for you out there and instead, we start trying to make someone else mend the wound that can only be healed by the love of Christ. Many single, Christian women have given up hope and are still drawing from earthly wells even if that means being unequally yoked in a relationship. After all, isn’t something better than nothing? But let the heart of Jesus speak to yours today, If you knew the gift of God…you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water (v 10).
The Samaritan woman becomes an example of how vastly empty hearts can be and how nothing but the love of Christ will satisfy even if we’re married. To be fully satisfied in Christ is to drink deeply from the spring of His love that will never run dry.
#4. Healing Past Pain
Recently I saw an amazing YouTube video with Paula White and her insight into the heart of Leah (click here to see the video). Leah is one of my favorite women in the Bible because I can relate to a woman whose heart feels unloved. How I’ve long for the affection and attention of the one I loved only to have my heart broken. But Paula White sheds some light into getting to the root of our need for connection and also the cycles we get into without even realizing it. Leah loved Jacob who was completely in love with her younger sister, Rachel. She was unloved by her husband just as she was unloved by her father, Laban.
Many of us are trying to find the love of a man because we’ve missed the love of our father. We think that if we can earn a husband’s love, we’ll be redeemed from our past childhood pains and the problems of our families will be restored. But we find that the redeemer we’ve been searching for is really a sinner saved by grace just as we are. The pain that Leah felt could only be mended when she turned her focus off of Jacob and onto God. God sees the pain and frustrations of singleness and sends you blessings…they just may not be in the form you want them but that does not diminish their value or God’s love for you.
#5. Lightening Loneliness
Late at night is the hardest time for me. After I’ve turned off my computer binging watching episodes of the Office. My apartment becomes so quiet except the sound of my dog, Connor, walking beside me as I turn off the lights and get ready for bed. There are times I wished I had someone that I could snuggle under the covers with and laugh at the silly things that happened to us throughout our day. It’s a good dream to have but what I’ve tucked away in those moments is the warning from other couples that while you can be in a relationship, you can still feel lonely.
There’s a difference from being alone and single to being lonely. Loneliness is a deep yearning in our hearts; a present reminder lest we forget that we aren’t made for this world. It is a muted alarm letting us know that we can’t grow too comfortable with the person God places in our lives in marriage because we are headed toward a greater communion that will have no end.
#6. Boosting Low Self-Esteem
The difference between every other adult relationship we may have is that in romantic relationships, we’re usually looking to be blatantly affirmed. Think about your relationships at work, ministry, with friends and family (both biological and spiritual). Do you require they satisfy your needs? In a sense they do. They make you feel accepted and known. When starting to date/court someone with your eyes on getting married, you’re looking to see if they can fulfill all of your needs (see Offer Complete Fulfillment below).
Too many single women have gone into relationships for selfish and egotistical reasons. When a guy liked me (especially if I liked him back) it affirmed that I was worth liking, pursuing, and loving. But many times, I wanted them to confirm something that I didn’t see in myself. Because I had this need to love, I often pursued someone hoping they would finally open their eyes and see how great I was.
What I had to learn was to see what was great in me.
Not in a prideful, narcissistic way but in a godly way. One that reflected Jesus’s greatest command to love myself while loving God and others. I believe that this is one of the reasons so many people seek out relationship and why so many fail.
Before you can say “I do” to a future spouse, you have to love and like yourself. You’re not perfect but you are made in His image. God says to you the same thing He said in the garden: you are “very good”.
#7. Offering Complete Fulfillment
“You complete me” has been resounding ever since the the movie Jerry Maguire in the 90s. That phrase verbalizes the burning desire of every woman’s heart to be needed and wanted. It’s tempting to believe something is missing, which can be totally and completely fulfilled by the love of another. We will find the Edward to our Bella, the Mr. Darcy to our Elizabeth Bennett. It will be a love story worthy of the ages and then Instagrammed for all to see.
But…there’s a downside called reality. Eventually, the “honeymoon” stage will be over. You’ll find yourself married to a man who is a sinner saved by grace just as you are. He will fail you, make you cry, make you wonder why you waited so long for a relationship, cry some more but eventually, you’ll forgive.
That’s what relationship does: it doesn’t fulfill you, it submits you.
It’s not about “me” or “I” it’s about “us” and “we”. It becomes a mirror to confront your sin and a tangible expression of God’s unrelenting grace. Marriage makes you look more like Jesus.
This list is not exhaustive but an attempt to be real about what you may hope marriage will solve. Marriage and singleness are both good in the eyes of God. One is not superior to the other and they both glorify God.
Sharing is caring – have you had to honestly confront why you desire to get married? Have your reasons for getting married changed as you’ve gotten older?
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