The Problem with Marriage
A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Mark 10:7
The problem with marriage is the same problem with any human institution. The problem with marriage is that we’re in it. In today’s passage, Christ described the ideal – what marriage is supposed to look like. The marital union is designed by God to be two people coming together to form something that they weren’t previously. Marriage is meant to be two people coming together, abandoning their old, individual lives, to become united as one, working together for a new singular purpose.
The problem then, is that this requires selflessness and self-sacrifice, things which we’re just not very good at doing. Some of us are more selfless than others, but most of us are just naturally most interested in my needs, whereas marriage requires us to be more interested in our needs. We don’t just naturally transition to a new life of selflessness.
This has been a profound life problem for me. I do what I want, and it simply isn’t normal for me to think of others first. In my drug addiction, I did things my way, not weighing the impact on my wife. Because I was married, united with her though, the consequences didn’t fall on me alone.
When we get married, we unite our world with the one we love. In the naivety of young love, we think that we will just naturally want to live for the interests of the marriage. Our selfishness is not so easily dismissed though. It takes daily work and effort to act in the interests of another. It’s not that we stop loving our spouses, it’s just that our self-love eventually shines through.
Even in my addiction, I felt love for my wife, even though I acted in a manner completely antithetical to love. True love though, isn’t just an emotion, it’s a way of life. If I truly love her, then I must behave in a manner consistent with that love, which means putting our marriage’s needs above my own interests.
It’s not that marriage is drudgery. Marriage can be one of the most amazing experiences of life. For it to be the blessed union that God intended though, we must daily make the conscious choice to live, not for ourselves, but for the good of each other.