Two Lives Bound Together as One
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Ephesians 5:31
I recently attended a distant wedding and on the way, I picked up my parents who rode with me. It was a beautiful ceremony, prompting me to contemplate wedding vows and commitment. Right in front of me, I had both ends of the spectrum. There was the young couple, looking forward at a life together, and there were my parents (that’s them in today’s picture), who’ve been married 56 years, looking back at a lifetime together.
As the new couple spoke their vows, I realized that it’s almost impossible at that stage to understand the commitment being made. My parents on the other hand, know exactly what that means, having lived out that commitment. In my own marriage, I once made the same vows. I’d like to say that my marriage has survived some tough times because I understood the commitment I made, but my marriage went through those tough times because, in my addiction, I didn’t live up to my promises. My wife thankfully did, even when she would have been justified in leaving.
This is the kind of commitment Paul spoke of in today’s passage. In it, he said that in marriage, a man and woman bind themselves together, becoming as one. In joining, they abandon their individual goals, living for a common goal. They no longer exist only for themselves but must now work together for the good of each other.
This is the only way a healthy marriage works. Life is hard though, presenting a myriad of distractions and trials. Each partner in the marriage is regularly tempted to go their own way. The challenge of marriage is to continually work together for the good of each other, abandoning selfishness. Daily, the couple must navigate financial troubles, discipline issues, outside temptations, and personality conflict, continually choosing selflessness to work for the marriage.
This isn’t easy because we naturally want to do things our way. It isn’t natural to continually sacrifice for the good of someone else, no matter how much emotion we may feel on the wedding day. We often suffer from the illusion that if we truly love each other, then marriage always will be easy. Then, when it’s not, we think perhaps we’ve fallen out of love.
A loving, healthy marriage – like my parents – happens when two people commit to living for each other for the rest of their lives, and then work at it. This doesn’t happen accidentally. If we want the marriage we vowed on our wedding day, then daily, we must bind our lives together, surrendering our selfishness, living for each other.