A single, simple but profound question passed my mind the other day:
“What’s the purpose of marriage?”
I asked this question while reflecting on the the deep heartache, brokenness, and loneliness that appears rampant (and silent) in marriages. The type of relationship where it’s not that you hate each other, but you don’t feel fire either, the joyful pictures on social media masking the pain and suffering inside a house of roommates. It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking that we’ve come so far from the altar where we committed our lives to each other. What’s the meaning of this? Where do we go from here?
The marriage night behind us, the ring on the finger, we’ve slowly shifted our affections from the pursuit of our beloved to our own desires. We’ve started to sleep with our list of failures and hurts instead of in the arms of our love. We’ve set our eyes on our own goals, dreams, ambitions, expectations, and placed them on the shelf to stare at. We’ve fatefully held our spouse, this person fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, to an impossibly high standard of perfection and waited for the moment they fail.
We’ve forgotten our own sin, our own unfaithfulness, our own wandering, and how in our sin and hardened heart, the Lord still chose us. We forgot that we are two imperfect beings, made perfect by the blood of our Lord. We are two beings prone toward ambition, pride, control, jealously, greed, creating our life in “our image” and yet we’ve been unified in the covenant of marriage, two that became one, set apart to love one another, serve one another, and be a reflection of the gospel, a reflection of Christ and his Bride.
Over time, we’ve turned our marriage covenant into a marriage contract.
IF I am happy, then we will remain married. IF you make me happy, you are deserving of my heart.
Is that your definition and purpose for marriage? Happiness?
And what IS happiness? What have you filled this blank with “If only I get ________ then I will be happy. If only he does ________ then I would be happy.” Happiness is fleeting. Your definition of happiness changes with the season. Health comes and goes. Mental wellness comes and goes. Beauty comes and goes. Jobs come and go. Fertility comes and goes. Children come into your home and leave. Prosperity blesses us and fades. He gives and takes away . . .
When we build our marriage on these fleeting moments and things, and define our love by these grounds, we are bound to fail.
We set our spouse up for failure, and we set our minds on an idol, some picturesque Disney perfection that was never meant to be. In these hard, defining moments “happiness” is not what carries us into patience and mercy, forgiveness and grace, bearing each other’s burdens. Happiness is not the force that drives us to love harder, to serve when we aren’t being served, to listen when we aren’t being listened to, to pursue when the other no longer has the energy to return this affection.
While happiness IS a worthy goal, it is not THE purpose. When I further reflected on the question, further reflected on who I am in Christ, and His pursuit of His Bride, this is what came to mind:
This spouse of mine, is my brother-in-Christ. First and foremost my purpose in this marriage is to lead him toward Christ, not to create myself as his savior, as his happiness, or as his answer. I am not. I cannot provide that. And neither should I look to him as the provider of such things. My JOY and my PURPOSE is to see Tucker as the Lord views him, to serve him faithfully, to confess my sins, to be sanctified little-by-little, to walk this path with him, to bear his burdens, to not hold his failures above his head, to show him mercy and forgiveness, to see his brokenness and instead of saying “HA! SEE! I knew you couldn’t provide that for me . . . ” is to instead point him toward his identity and worth – defined by Christ alone. To point him toward a joy that’s so much deeper than what this world brings. To show him peace so much more profound and lasting than what he can find in a picturesque marriage. To pray for him. To love him. To speak Truth and Light into his life. To bring him to the Living Water, and draw his pail.
Tucker, I love you. Oh, how I love you. Thank you for constantly pointing me to the One who Saves. Thank you for instead of building my marriage on YOU, you’ve pointed me to Him. We’re aren’t perfect, but His Love is. We got this. Let’s do this. ❤