WHY DO PEOPLE GET MARRIED?
When I am counseling couples, I often ask them this question: “Why did you get married?“ The answers vary…
- I fell in love with them.
- We had so much in common.
- I loved spending time with them.
- We were tired of going home at the end of the date.
- It just felt like the right time.
- I was ready to build a life and a family with them.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all good reasons. But eventually, they are not enough to sustain a marriage. The longer you’re married the more difficult marriage becomes…leaving the above reasons insufficient.
WHY ARE THESE REASONS ARE NOT ENOUGH?
Look again at the reasons listed above…
I fell in love with them.
It’s certainly preferable to fall in love with the person you’re going to marry. But if that’s the main reason for getting married, what happens when you fall out of love? Throughout the course of the marriage, that feeling of falling in love with your spouse will come and go. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than falling in love.
We had so much in common.
People who come to me for premarital counseling focus on how much they have in common. But people who come to me for marriage counseling focus on how different they are. Early in the relationship, we tend to maximize our similarities and minimize our differences. But eventually, the differences begin to force their way to the top. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than your similarities.
I loved spending time with them.
There is a correlation between the amount of quality time we spend together and our feelings of love for one another. Early in the marriage, we’re afforded a lot of quality time together. But the longer you’re married, the more the demands on your time mount, and the less quality time you have. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than loving to spend time together.
We were tired of going home at the end of the date.
I hear this from a lot of people in premarital counseling. The consistent feeling of not wanting to be away from the other is certainly a good sign that this person may be the one. But many couples underestimate the issues that can arise from living under the same roof day in and day out. Some spouses even start yearning for more time alone. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than wanting to spend all your time together.
It just felt like the right time.
Often, when I ask couples why now is the time to get married, they will say, “it just feels right.” But, feelings have a way of coming and going. There will be times in marriage when you might even question whether it really was right or not. So you need a bigger reason for marriage than just a gut feeling that the time is right.
I was ready to build a life and family with them.
Of all the reasons, this is probably one of the better ones. But it is still a reason that stands on shaky ground because we have no idea what that life will look like. And what happens when that family grows up and moves on? These things will change, so you need a bigger reason for marriage than just the desire to build a life and a family with this person.
SO WHAT IS THE BETTER REASON?
When our original reasons don’t work like they use to, we typically try to get our spouse to change…so that things can feel like they used to be. But this creates tension and conflict in a marriage and usually makes matters worse.
When our former reasons don’t seem to be working, the answer is not to change our spouse. It’s to change us! That’s the real reason for marriage.
We need to understand that all the above reasons are good and important, but they are merely gateways to connect us and bring us into marriage. They can’t sustain a marriage. The real reason for getting married is that God uses marriage to mold and shape us into who we need to be. This is what it means when Scripture says, “the two become one.”
God wants to use our marriage to make us less selfish and more sacrificial. To be less self-focused and more other-focused. To learn to love more for what we can give than what we can get. It’s just that we don’t tend to see this early in the relationship. It’s something we need to grow into with time and experience.
A FINAL WORD…
No matter how you answer the question, “Why did you get married?” there’s a bigger and better question for you to answer. That question is, “Why are you married now?” If your answer is so you can grow into a better person for your spouse, you’re on the right track.