There is a blog post making the rounds on Facebook right now about how marriage isn’t about you. Marriage is about the other person, the person you are marrying, and wanting to make that person happy and her life good and all that warm and fuzzy stuff. I think this is a pretty solid statement, but I think that it’s something that we should be kinda careful about.
My opinions are not based on any kind of deep study or professional education. They’re just based on the little knowledge I have of what the Bible says about love and marriage and also on my experiences in two marriages. You may not care to hear the opinion of someone who failed at marriage. Don’t worry about it. I’ll survive if you stop reading.
I was married once before. It was really bad. It only lasted a few months and ended really nasty like. That failed marriage was a huge moment in my life that some see as the moment I became a crazy cynical bastard, and others (mostly just myself) see as the moment I started to think for myself and not let other people tell me what to do and how to live and what to believe. It was basically the moment I said “fuck all this.”
Before I married my first wife, I had taken this class in Bible College about marriage and family and that kind of stuff. A big point that was repeatedly drilled into our heads was that love should not depend on the other person at all. You can love anyone, no matter how shitty they are. I guess this is true, I’m not really here to figure that out. Now, whether I made this leap on my own, or it was implied, I got the idea that this meant it didn’t matter who you married, because you could love anyone, even if they were soul sucking devil spawn. So, I decided I was already attached to one of these, I might as well marry her. That sucked. I didn’t like being married to her and she wasn’t super into being married to me and our short marriage was just a big terrible suckfest.
I tried to love my ex-wife but I didn’t want to and it didn’t really make me happy to so it felt like I was in prison or like a labor camp where the boss is an evil devil woman who tells you that you are bald and stupid. I don’t blame her that I didn’t find it easy to love her. I blame myself. I mean, she didn’t help matters, but I was the idiot who thought it was a good idea to marry someone I didn’t even like.
This isn’t meant to be about how much I hated my ex-wife or our marriage. The point I am getting to is that, yeah, you should get married because you want to serve and care for your spouse, but that doesn’t mean it is not about you. The key in the above statement is that you WANT TO take care of that person. You find joy and pleasure and satisfaction in doing things for that person and it lifts you up to see that person happy. Yeah, marriage is kinda about you. It is about asking yourself the question of: do I (see that “I” there represents you) want to spend my life making this other person happy?
You may think that I’m being kinda ridiculous here. That this point isn’t really important, but it is. Maybe you think that this view is too selfish, but we ALL do it. That is why even the least selfish person picks a certain spouse and not someone else. This idea of a stoic love, where you get nothing from it is insane and bound to fail. The truly selfless person does not do things for others just for the sake of doing them, he does them because it brings him joy.
This is how we love our kids. It is not a calculation of what we want verse what they want. It is simply giving them what they want/need because that is the very thing that we want!
Fortunately, a beautiful and wonderful woman crossed my path and showed me that loving someone is really satisfying and wonderful and can fill you with so much happiness that you almost feel selfish in loving them. Obviously love takes sacrifice and sometimes can hurt and be difficult, but it is worth it, not because you don’t care about yourself so it doesn’t matter, but because you get so much happiness from loving that other person that their joys bring you more joy than anything you could ever do for yourself.
Stephanie and I just celebrated five years of marriage back in October and it has truly been amazing to be married to her. I have learned so much about love and caring about someone else that I could never put down in words. We argue, sure, but I like her and I want to make her happy, I want to make her life enjoyable and satisfying, and nothing brings me more happiness than to be responsible for doing something that brings her happiness. The idea that I could passively “love” this woman is absurd. That I could grit my teeth and do what she needs even though I would rather not is crazy! Everything I do for her, I do for me. Maybe that isn’t the way it is supposed to be, but I like it!