The Bond of Marriage
People talk about a bond in marriage. There is one. It is invisible but it is there. The preacher in Ecclesiastes describes it this way:
It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!
Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.
By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst. (Ecc. 4:9-12 MSG)
The writer speaks of the “wealth” in marriage and what I can tell you is: there is great wealth in a good marriage. It is enough to have a good marriage and live in a small house and drive average cars. The wealth of your marriage will sustain you when houses and cars fall apart. He tells us “with a friend, you can face the worst.” I like that a lot. The wealth in marriage will get your through the worst and it’s important that the worst happens–even in the best of marriages. Marriages are strengthens by going through the worst, not around it.
Marriage is about being a companion. The word “companion” means in French a ‘beggar of bread.” In marriage you will find yourselves begging for a lot of things: health when one of you is sick; comfort when one of you is in pain; satisfaction when one of you is discontent and joy when sadness grips your heart. It’s better to beg for the bread of life together than to go it alone. This passage more than others in the Bible paints the truest picture of marriage that I know. I wanted you to know about it.
The bond of marriage is the making of one story out of two stories. Alone, all you have is your story. But in marriage, it’s not just your story that matters anymore. When you marry, you relinquish having an individual story. You begin in a new way. It’s now, “our story.” The man brings his own plot and drama and the woman brings hers. Both stories unfold in a new way. Marriage is all about knowing your partner’s story inside and out. It’s about sharing now in new scenes; new drama that will certainly unfold and blending the past into the present which will yield into the future.; being found; being discovered and being known so deeply that it takes your breath away.
You will be more in love in your fifth year than you are in your first week. Your love in the 20th year will in no way resemble the love in your second year. It will get better with time as you work to build your relationship and never coast in it. At least you should be. I say that because the more time you share; the more stories you live together the more you will discover depths and strengths in your spouse that you never knew before. Time has away of testing these bonds and so does the drama of life. Let me be clear, your marriage will not get better unless you work at your marriage to be better. This needs to be the goal hold by both of you. I’ve found there is no 50/50 in marriage. Sometimes, I’ve had to go 80% and more and so has Mom. Rarely do we ever go half way together and it works. We’re both strong, gifted, spirited and soulful and this requires compromise, negotiating and forgiveness.
The glue to your bond will be this: understanding your need to forgive and be forgiven. You will find in your marriage that you will hurt and be hurt. You will disappoint and be disappointed in. The salve of forgiveness should be applied often and thick–without reserve. Anger drives wedges into the space between you. Hidden issues that you are not aware of are at work causing pressure and the pressure will build till one of you blows your stack. Be quick to forgive. Try to make it a rule to never go to bed angry. If you live with that rule, then you’ll have alot of late nights to resolve the tension. But the marriage bed is no place for the tension that can arise. Deal with that in the den and keep the bedroom safe for openness, vulnerability and mutuality.
Through the years, you’ll find that particular issues will always seem to surface. I don’t know what yours will be but ours are predictable and both Mom and I know the tender spaces and thin places that if we go there–we should only proceed with great caution, tremendous care and undeniable unconditional love. To go there in anger is to make more danger than you can possibly imagine.
Always choose your spouse over your children. I’ve seen hundreds make the mistake of loving their children more than their spouse and it’s regrettable when this happens. The marriage love is the most supreme, highest and most sacred bond on earth. The Bible says it is so and Jesus re-emphasized it in his teachings. So, keeping it first and the priority will help you as parents when your children try to divide you and split you–first in decision making and then later in competing priorities.
Hopefully, you’ll age well together. The smooth skin will become wrinkled and it’s in the wrinkles and folds that make the deepest places for love to hold you. What will be incredible is this: as you age and change your love will grow and expand for all the changes and ways you will change. Don’t resist the change because your marriage will grow and the love will expand.
When you choose your spouse, you are choosing them for life–not a season.There will be nothing better for your own soul that to find and develop life long companion. This doesn’t just happens. It means dying to yourself. Dying to your illusions about life and marriage and living in the truth with lots and lots of grace and then more grace when you have run out of grace–there will be more. There will be. Your marriage is a story that will have many plots and characters that come and go but central of all are the two of you. No one else should come in an be shared in your marriage. Marriage is for two not three.