Oct 182016 0 Responses

Marriage Must Be Bigger Than You

It’s bigger than you. That doesn’t diminish you. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t important. It doesn’t mean you should never think about yourself. But it does mean your happiness, satisfaction, and desires do not reign supreme in your marriage.

Marriage must be bigger than you.

Apart from God, this isn’t the case. Through a secular mindset, marriage is simply about the individuals involved. It’s a tool whose primary focus is personal fulfillment and desire. If you find a marriage that makes you happy–stay there. If you don’t like the current arrangement, forget your vows and do as you please. Without God, marriage is about you.

A Christian perspective doesn’t deny the importance of personal happiness or the role which marriage can play in satisfying desires. However, those ideas are secondary to a higher purpose.

Declaration of Intent

It’s an aspect overlooked by many brides and grooms, but wedding ceremonies follow the declaration of intent. Before a man and woman vow what they will do for one another (“I promise to love you, to listen to you, learn from you…”), they declare to God their purpose. The “I do” is called the declaration of intent. It is not made to one another; it’s made to God. It often follows a question like “In the presence of God and these gathered friends, do you choose ____ to be your husband/wife?” When the individual says “I do,” they have declared to God their choice. (See: 5 Moments a Pastor Looks for at a Wedding)

After telling God of their decision, a couple then declares their commitment to one another (“I promise to love you, to listen to you, to learn from you, etc.”).

This design is intentional and it reminds us that before being about ourselves, marriage is about God.

When Marriage Is Bigger Than Us

In its proper context, marriage is bigger than us. It is a tool which God uses to shape culture, grow communities, and transform the hearts of individuals. In nearly every mention of marriage within the New Testament, it is a discussion which takes place in the context of the local church. Divorce doesn’t just hurt the individual or family, it threatens the well-being of the church as well.

When a couple embraces the bigger picture of marriage, each aspect of the relationship is viewed through a difference lens. Instead of simply thinking how a situation impacts the individual, everything is seen in relationship to the individual, the couple, the family, the community, and God.

It heightens issues. Because of the importance of marriage, knowing the relationship isn’t all about us should create a sense of urgency with some topics. If marriage was just about me, I could ignore problems or deny issues because I don’t want to face them. Since marriage is bigger than me, I don’t have those options. I must communicate problems. As a couple, we must face issues and improve our skills. Others depend on us loving one another well so we must learn to do just that.

It decreases issues. Because marriage is bigger than us, other issues become less important. Small irritations or frustrations are viewed though a different lens. They are seen as one problem in the midst of much larger contexts. If marriage is all about individual happiness, there is no issue too small to ruin the relationship. Yet if marriage is about the individuals as well as the whole community, some issues might be worth discussion but they are not worth risking the well-being of others because of a personal preference.

Without a proper perspective of marriage, we lose the right context through which we can understand individual circumstances. We downplay important problems while elevating minor frustrations. We live out of balance. (See: 6 Common Mistakes When Fighting)

However, whenever we understand the place of marriage within our lives, we have the ability to view each circumstance within its proper context. We can evaluate each situation with the right understanding of whether it can be ignored, laughed out, seen as a simple irritation, or something which we must take very seriously in confronting.

When We Are Bigger than Marriage

Individuals which elevate themselves above marriage do so at the peril of the relationship and themselves. Clearly the relationship suffers. If either spouse sees him or herself as the centerpiece of marriage, the relationship will be out of balance. It’s success will fall to the whims of individual desire which can change at any moment.

Yet what is often lost in this paradigm is the damage this does to the individual. One would think that when we wrongly elevate ourselves we might experience more fun, happiness, and excitement. It might not be fair to others, but at least we will get what we want. However, self-centeredness never delivers what it promises. Even as we seek our own desires, we do not find them. (See: Pride–the Only Enemy of Marriage)

A self-centered spouse is not happier, more content, or joyful than someone who puts marriage in its proper context. When we elevate ourselves above marriage, we end up diminishing both ourselves and marriage.

A Higher Pursuit

A healthy marriage is experienced as we view ourselves, each other, and the marriage properly. When marriage is about us, it’s not to our benefit. Just as a gas engine can’t run off of a different form of fuel, so too, a marriage cannot experience health when it is attempted outside of its intended design.

While individual happiness, desires, and considerations are important within a marriage, they are not the central focus. More than anything, marriage is supposed to be an avenue through which a couple can know God and express Him to others. Secondary to that pursuit are the desires of each individual. (See: How to Come Back to Faith)

Marriage is supposed to be bigger than us. When we pursue after God through our marriage, we can experience the full potential marriage has to offer. When we simply focus on ourselves as the central figures of a relationship, we will neither know God nor each other.

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