I love my wife. I love her even more now than I did three years ago. Asking her to marry me is the best decision I've made so far in my short life. Some days I feel qualified to write about marriage. Some days I get it so wrong. But as it's our wedding anniversary, I thought I would attempt a marriage post! Here are a few of my recent thoughts about marriage.
I believe in marriage. I believe that God created it and with Him at the centre, it works. . . for individuals and for society. Marriage is a symbol of the relationship between Christ and the church. When it works, it reflects God's character, love, and forgiveness.
What is christian marriage? It's a solemn commitment in front of God (and man) to love, honour, cherish and maintain exclusive intimacy, through anything, until death. It's a promise (and a covenant) to commit and submit. With no get-out-clause! It's hard work and it requires trust. And it's risky: you have no control whether the other person will behave or keep their promise. It's not like a business contract where each party is in the deal for what they can get out of it. That kind of relationship ultimately breaks down when one (or both) no longer gets what they want or think they deserve.
At its most romantic, marriage is two people so crazy in love with each other that they can't live apart. But emotions, situations and people change. Feelings alone won't hold a couple together forever. Love, as a feeling, is beautiful, magical and can be described but not easily defined. But marriage is different. It has to be. It's not an emotion but a real and concrete daily decision. By definition, this is not romantic but practical.
We are made for relationships. I believe that it is possible for any man and any woman to fall in love with each other. Physically, emotionally, properly, in every way. The attraction may or may not happen immediately but given the opportunity, time and sometimes hard work, true love (with all the feelings!) is possible. That's why arranged marriages can (although not always) be successful and filled with love. And why there is always hope for 'dying' marriages.
Here's the secret: It's not about finding a completely perfect person, or someone who will tick every box. They don't exist! Nor is it about waiting for the right feelings! Feelings are great but can be so deceptive (both for and against a decision). Although your heart has to be involved, actually choosing who to marry should be (mostly) a head decision.
So how do you find "the one"? I'm no expert but here are my tips! First, get your head sorted out. Wait until you are mature enough to know who you are and what you want out of life. Then decide what sort of person you are looking for. What qualities are essential? Don't just settle for anybody! Find (that's the tricky bit!) someone you are willing to trust. Be intentional. Choose to get to know that person and be known by them. Find out what makes them tick. What do they want in life? What is their relationship with God like? Will they build you up or pull you down? Choose to fall in love.
Next you need to independently decide whether or not you are ready to commit to loving and serving that one person - for life. (Ok - they need to do the same thing). It's still not about the feelings! Pray. God may guide clearly but it's also easy to misinterpret 'signs'. Take advice, but it has to be your decision. When you are completely sure in your own heart and mind that you are ready give/surrender/submit to someone else, then you have found "the one".
Then do it! Grab the opportunity with both hands - there is incredible blessing in doing it right. Commit. Promise. Love. Choose to keep falling in love. For life. True love is about giving, not receiving. Its about putting someone else's needs before your own. Unlike a romantic fairytale, it's a real (and sometimes difficult) journey of daily making that other person "the one". Then the feelings you have for each other will grow and deepen as you experience life together.