In less than a month my husband and I will celebrate our 13th year of marriage. I love the fact that we got married in the year 2000. I don’t have to think too hard to figure out how many years have passed since our wedding day.
These days I’m wondering why in the world I got married. Before you contact me worried about the health of our marriage, allow me to explain.
I’ve read a lot of statistics lately that have me scratching my head. Numbers such as 4 in 10 babies are born to unwed mothers. Marriage doesn’t mean starting a family anymore. The number of marriages is on the decline for the first time in history. Many couples choose simply to live together. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce today, so obviously marriage doesn’t ensure any kind of long-term commitment. According to author Dana Shapiro, of the marriages that do last his research shows that only a third of those couples actually feel content with their marriage.
With all of this gloom and doom, I wonder, so why even get married? If it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, then why did I do it? Why does anyone do it? I consulted Google for some answers and what I found was even more disturbing. I typed in the search term “reasons to get married.” You can check it out yourself. The majority of articles that popped up on the first page were not reasons TO get married, but all of the reasons to NOT get married. So then I typed in “benefits of marriage” and the results weren’t a whole lot better. The main focus appeared to be on financial gain.
Yet, in the news one of the most popular topics right now is gay rights and in particular the right to marry. This is so weird. We have an entire social group begging, pleading, demanding the right to marry and the majority of those of us who are married want out or aren’t happy. What is wrong with this picture? Surely there is more to marriage than cheaper healthcare expenses, tax breaks, and other financial benefits.
I was not your typical little girl. I didn’t spend hours dreaming of my wedding day. Playing house didn’t top my list of choice activities. Usually I played school, or read and dreamed of a career as a private detective so I could follow in Nancy Drew’s footsteps. For those of you reading this who know me, you can just picture that can’t you? Me, on the hunt, packing heat? Anyway, I digress.
My decision to marry Jason at the age of 27 after having a career and living on my own was very deliberate and weighed with much prayer. You see, I almost got married in college to my high school sweetheart. That is a story for another day, but suffice it to say that engagement ended and that relationship gave me a better picture of what I truly wanted in a mate: something I was willing to wait for, and if it didn’t come along I felt more than content to remain single.
I want to challenge you to think about why you got married, or why you might want to someday for my single readers. As a 40-year-old woman balancing caring for her home, family, and pursuing a career I think it is important for me to think back to the early stages of our relationship. I know there are things I can improve on in our marriage and I think reflecting on our initial foundation can help. The longer you are married the more you experience life passing by all too quickly. Your spouse can begin to feel more like a roommate, and the negative can come out more than the positive.
So here are my reasons:
1. Jason was my best friend. I had a handful of great girlfriends, but there wasn’t anyone I would rather spend my time with. We were friends first before we dated, and that has really helped our marriage.
2. I couldn’t conceive of a future without him by my side. I don’t mean that in a touch-feely way, but in a very real sense. The thought of him not being around was a painful thought.
3. He brought out the best in me and loved me in spite of my weaknesses. I didn’t feel like he had an agenda to fix me. With him by my side I had more confidence in myself. The thought that I could do the same for him and invest in him long-term brought me great joy.
4. The thought of being “stuck” with someone and him being “stuck” with me actually appealed to me. One of our core needs as humans is to be loved and accepted, and marriage is the ultimate picture of that as far as our earthly relationships go. Marriage helps us practice unconditional love.
5. The idea of building a future together excited me. As I look at our two boys I feel both fear and enthusiasm. We have brought two delightful individuals into the world that will surely impact it in a positive way. My marriage to their daddy has created something far beyond our imaginations and these boys can rest in the fact that their mommy and daddy love each other and will be right here for them together.
Like the seasons, marriage ebbs and flows. We all have moments of bliss and times our married life feels barren. Marriage is all about supporting one another through all of those seasons. Fawn Weaver, author of The Happy Wives Club says, “The greatest marriages are built on teamwork. A mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration, and a never-ending portion of love and grace.” Amen to that last part.
Here are a couple of tools you might find helpful:
This is a personality test. If you feel like you and your spouse just can’t figure out where the other person is coming from this might help you put things in perspective.
This quiz will help you determine if your relationship is healthy and some areas you might need to work on.
Take some time to really reflect on what brought you and your spouse together. What can you do for you spouse today that will be life-giving? What is one reason you enjoy being married?