The Secrets of Marriage
More than an "Institution":
Groucho Marx once said "Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?"
Perhaps marriage is an institution in the legal sense. But marriage is much more than a binding civil contract. It is a sacred and binding union, and today people don't understand that. This is why divorce has reached an unprecedented rate, followed as often by couples electing to live together rather than getting married, as well as people living a culture of "hooking up" (having sex with multiple partners without responsibility or commitment or true intimacy.)
Marriage is a foundation for civilized society… correction… marriage is THE foundation for civilized society. It is a cornerstone for human growth and development and social maturation. In truth, marriage is not just a social construct, but a sacred sacrament joining two individuals into one holy entity. It is a transformation of two individuals with separate identities into one new unit that surpasses individual differences or self-centered, egotistical wants and desires. It is a new entity where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
God loves families. Marriage is the most intimate of human relationships. It is a gift from God, and a sacred, holy institution. The Bible is full of phrases and messages from the Lord. In Hebrews He said, “Let marriage be honorable among all.” St. Paul wrote, “Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.” And in Genesis it states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
The Benefits of Marriage:
Many surveys have demonstrated the benefits of marriage. Some are practical such as the conveniences marriage offers. More importantly, however, people report that marriage gave them a life purpose. Most couples report that they have a much greater satisfaction with life overall, and are much happier because of their marriage and their family. Many report lower stress and depression. In fact numerous studies have shown that married couples experience better health, are more prosperous, enjoy better attitudes, and have overall better mental health than others - even than those cohabitating in life.
The Secrets of Marriage:
1) William James, the father of American psychology, stated that the one item that binds and creates the most happiness is kindness. Being kind and considerate to your life partner is the surest way to enhance and maintain a healthy, happy marriage. Professionals say that the #1 way to strengthen your family is through the expression of appreciation - one of the most important needs everyone has is the need to be appreciated and healthy marriages recognize and present this everyday.
2) Marriage is Holistic Love - true love: Marital love is all encompassing. Too often in relationships there is a "cover of love" but not a true, complete and absolute love. In fact it often remains conditional - "I'll love you because and until…" This type of love is not all embracing.
Unlike America, the Greeks actually have four words for love… each is different, and yet, each is sacred: philia, storge, agape, and eros. And marriage is the only relationship category that finds all four.
- Philia Love is friendship or shared goodwill. Friendship is goodness associated with
mutual benefit, companionship, dependability, and trust. A marriage, more than
anything else, finds two people in an intimate love defined by friendship - by concern
for the health and struggles, the accomplishments and rewards of a difficult life…
a friendship where people can be themselves yet come to depend upon each other.
- Storge Love or familial love, is a kind of philia pertaining to the love between parents
and their children. It is the fondness born out of familiarity or dependency and does not
depend on our personal qualities but is unconditional - especially with younger children.
- Agape Love is universal love, such as the love for everyone, for nature, for God, for all
creation. It is an unconditional love and acceptance and charity, and is an unselfish
concern for the welfare of others.
- Eros (Erotic) Love is sexual or passionate love, and is the type most akin to our modern
construct of romantic love. The problem is that many Americans cannot distinguish
between erotic love and the other kinds, and the confusion of erotic love complicates and
causes difficulties and problems if it is the main or only type of love that a relationship is
And of course in Corinthians, it states, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it
does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not
easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."
3) A marriage is 50-50: WRONG! Today people believe that the work and responsibilities of a marriage are 50% the husband's responsibility, and 50% the wife's. This is wrong and such a belief will only contribute to resentment and heartache if the other partner fails to live up to their share of responsibilities. It is far better to assume that a marriage is 80-20, with YOU assuming 80% of the work. This by far lessens expectations you may have and creates a safer, more realistic living environment.
4) Be willing to learn about yourself, and change and grow. People do not stop maturing when they get married. In fact, marriage presents its own set of difficulties that demand more communication, more work, more change, more emotional control and more compromises. If both parties understand and agree to this, the marriage has a mich more sound footing for continued happiness and stability.
5) Religious practices: Study after study demonstrate that people who practice their religions and do so in the spirit of God, find more serenity and tranquility than the majority of people despite the turmoil's of life. Marriages find that God's blessings are much more abundant when people follow Him, turn to Him, and praise and worship Him.
Marriage Withstands and Grows:
A true marriage can withstand all hurts and pains. It is based upon loyalty, friendship, trust, self-sacrifice, kindness, altruism, thoughtfulness, benevolence, consideration and compassion. A sound marriage survives - and even grows from the wounds and injuries that life offers, or even that we experience or even inflict upon ourselves.
The sacred of marriage is the singular vow of giving of oneself to another in the confluence of love….. a deep mutual love and devotion. Marriage has worked for thousands of years. It is an institution worth keeping around.