People get married for lots of reasons. But according to a telephone survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number one reason people marry is love.
Reasons two and three are also unremarkable. People marry because they want to make a lifelong commitment. And they marry for companionship.
No surprises there. Human beings are created in the image of God, and we are made for community. We are designed for relationship. Something deep within us does not want to be alone, at least not all the time.
When another human is a constant in our lives, they offer more than just company. We have opportunities to give and receive. To encourage and be encouraged. To comfort each other and celebrate together.
Thomas Fuller, historian and author, once said, “Friendships multiply joy and divide grief.” Yes. And marriage is the most profound and intimate of friendships. That’s why we leave the security of our original family and form a new and even stronger bond.
In other words, marriage has the potential to make life better. Better for you, and better for your spouse.
Often, couples commit their lives to each other propelled by romantic feelings. And there is nothing wrong with romance. However, satisfaction and fulfillment in marriage comes from deep and abiding love that grows over time. Love grows as we practice patience with one another. Love deepens as we are kind to one another, encourage one another, and forgive one another. (Marriage provides all kinds of opportunity to live out the “one another” commands we find in the New Testament. Find a list of all the “one another” commands here.)
The Bible teaches (and research confirms) that in a healthy marriage, you become a student of your spouse. You learn what makes them feel respected and loved and do things to reinforce those feelings. You learn what they enjoy and figure out how to have fun together. And you learn what turns them off and adjust accordingly.
In a healthy marriage, husbands and wives communicate desires and feelings and dreams. They enjoy the gift of physical intimacy that was created for marriage. And they don’t intentionally hurt one another. Even with words. Especially with words.
Because when both husband and wife serve each other, honor and care for each other, marriage is mutually satisfying. It’s a source of great joy.
This kind of marriage relationship doesn’t happen overnight. And it does not happen without intention. But the effort you put into your marriage is worth it. The time you take to do something thoughtful for your spouse, the words of encouragement you speak, the time you spend alone together, these are investments in a strong marriage.
And a strong marriage is a beautiful and fulfilling gift that keeps on giving.