Marriage Is More
by Glenn Stanton
All relationship forms are not created equal.
Cohabitation is not a junior, apprentice form of marriage.
Cohabitation is not an on-ramp to marriage.
Cohabitation is not marriage’s spring training.
Cohabitation is not marriage-lite.
Cohabitation is just “moving in together” so we can save some money on rent, spend more time together, and see how the relationship works out.
Marriage is an action, a decision, a statement.
Marriage is giving our all to another and stepping up and proclaiming it to the community of people around us. And that commitment makes us different kinds of people, different partners, different parents. It says we are clearly for another, or at least that’s what the others around us—those who witnessed our exchange of vows—expect of us. Marriage demands something of us. And this expectation makes us act differently.
Marriage is definitive. Marriage is absolute. Marriage leads us into new worlds—and it closes off others.
This is the virtue of marriage. This is why marriage makes real, measurable differences in our lives.
Marriage is so much more than we tend to think it is.
Marriage Is More Than the Wedding
Too many young couples today act as if the wedding is what marriage is primarily about, rather than just simply the doors a couple passes through on their way into matrimony. Researchers and journalists who talk to young couples about why they are delaying their marriage find these couples often explain they aren’t marrying because they can’t yet afford a wedding.
Those who invest themselves in the marriage that comes after the wedding are investing in something that really matters. And it will pay serious dividends in the form of contentment, intimacy, support, love, and genuine happiness.
Marriage Is More Than Getting a Soul Mate
I am not a fan of the soul mate concept of marriage. You see this idea in commercials for certain online dating services. “We will help you find the spouse of your dreams with our super-duper matching system,” they claim. Do I think they should help you find the match of your nightmares? No. But this “I want to marry my soul mate” idea of marriage gets it wrong on two important levels.
First, marriage is not like a shopping trip where we scan the aisles looking for that perfect something we need to complete some need in our life. A spouse is not a consumer product we shop for to fulfill us in just the right way.
Second, marriage is not so much about us and our needs and wishes. The soul mate idea of marriage makes it about us—and turns our spouse into something that suits us, for us. And when this person reveals their human flaws to us in the intimate microscope of marriage, we become prone to wonder if this imperfect person is really the God-given soul mate we thought we were getting.
So should husbands and wives not be soul mates? It is not a question of whether but when! You see, we don’t marry our soul mate. We marry the person whose soul mate we want to become. And the key word is become. Marriage doesn’t give a soul mate, it makes a soul mate: out of us—and out of our spouse. And these soul mates are the best kind.
Marriage Is More Than About You
Marriage increases our happiness because marriage is more likely than any other relationship to make us live for others. Marriage keeps doing this in my life. And those who know me best know that I too often fail. It makes me struggle. It makes me work harder to be more giving. But this work also makes me happier. Marriage has this effect on most of us.
The first chapters of Genesis teach us that the first two humans became husband and wife before they became anything else. This was God’s plan—and delight—for them.
Marriage builds a relationship like no other. It makes a difference. And that difference is very good.
Marriage is more. Don’t settle for less.
Excerpted from The Ring Makes All the Difference. Used with permission of Moody Publishers.