Monday, May 7, 2012

3 Things Marriage Doesn't Do: In case All You Single Peeps Were Wondering

Genesis 2:18
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

I meet with young singles all the time in my counseling practice and get emails from all over the world from young adults looking for love.  They long to be married and have an insatiable desire inside of their heart to meet the significant other who they can finally call, "the one".

I remember being in that place not too long ago.    It's hard to imagine marriage accurately from the perspective of a single young adult.  Even with all the chaos modeled in modern day marriages all around us, somehow the idea of marriage still gets idolized beyond reasonable expectations.  Everyone believes that their marriage will be different, looking to Hollywood dreams and romance as their example. 

It's easy to fall into the lie that finding your spouse will be the ultimate road to happiness and great satisfaction.  That all problems, fears, and deficits will fade away in the presence of true love.    That may be true of God's love...but let me tell you, it sure ain't true in the world of love and marriage.

Don't get me wrong.  I love being married.  I believe I'm married to the greatest man alive (go figure!) but somehow, he still manages to disappoint sometimes.  And I certainly have the tendency to let him down (I know, shocking!).

For all the things that marriage has done to enhance my life and stretch my love, there are still some things that it will never be able to do.  Here's what I've discovered: 

1.  Marriage doesn't delete your insecurities:  I'm not sure why I ever thought it would.  For some reason, the idea of being loved unconditionally by another human being seemed like it would do the trick in helping me feel better about myself.  I thought that being married and seeing love through the eyes of another would really teach me how to love myself.  Wrong.  So very wrong.

I think that way of thinking has done more harm than good to many a marriage in our world.  No one has the power to deal with our inadequacies and insecurities but us.  Putting those insane expectations on a spouse will only cause harm, because there is a 100% chance that they can't really change how we view ourselves.

No matter how much encouragement, affection, affirmation, and validation I get from my the end of the day, true security comes when I choose to see myself through the eyes of my God, not through the eyes of my spouse (or anyone else for that matter).  Relying on your spouse to fill those insatiable needs is a recipe for disaster- because frankly, even my superman husband lacks the capability to offer me what I need for true value and self worth.  That can only come from within.  My security comes from my relationship with God, and then whatever praises and encouragement my husband gives to me is simply the overflow. 

2.  Marriage can't give you purpose: One thing that I had a hard time attending a Christian college, is glimpsing the attitude of women who were out to fulfill one mission in life: Finding a godly man.  Don't get me wrong, I personally was on the lookout....but there was something behind the drive of these young girls that really disturbed me.  Their sole purpose in life was to catch a man.  They even joked that they were there to get their "MRS." degree...

Something has gone terribly wrong when young Christians believe that their sole purpose in life is to find marital love.  First of all, this belief is dangerous in that it robs us of true joy and purpose in life...purpose that can never be taken away.  The bible encourages us to live this life for God's love Him and to love others, making a difference in the world by displaying this kind of love.  We are each made for a unique purpose and design far beyond the scope of marriage and relationships.  Though marriage can be an incredible gift, it is a means to the end, not the end itself.

When we see relationships as the end of the road of purpose, we find ourselves facing a wall of disappointment with no where left to go when we finally arrive.  Marriage may be the avenue in fulfilling our purpose, but it is not the final destination.  We need to seek God's purpose for our lives FAR beyond just finding a spouse, and allow His purpose to be the course that guides our lives and our direction.  Rather than asking what God can do for us, we need to look to Him in seeking what WE can do for HIM.  In this is true purpose.  And who knows, we might just run into a spouse a long the way...this one, I can personally vouch for. 

3.  Marriage won't make you whole:  I remember watching a Beth Moore video in which she used the analogy of a cup in assessing the heart of a Christian.  I love the analogy, because our emotional worlds are certainly like cups.  We either feel full, or empty throughout our lives.  One problem I see with young adults is that they live their lives half-full.  Not really knowing themselves, not really taking time to assess their needs, deal with their problems, habits, and hang ups....they seek out relationships in hopes that those relationships will fill them up and make them whole.  They bring their wounds to relationships for bandaging, not realizing that two broken and wounded people can be of no help to one another.

Marriage can be a source of motivation and encouragement, but it can never make you whole.  Your spouse cannot bring healing into your life and renewed thinking into your mind.  The road to healing must be seen as your own personal that you must walk alone.  You will never feel whole in the presence of your mate if you don't feel whole on your own.

God's design for marriage is to bring two whole people together, giving them double the strength to reach a lost and dying world.  Now mind you, I didn't say perfect....I said whole.  We are not expected to reach perfection before marriage, because that would make for a whole lot of single people here on earth.  But though we can't be perfect, we can reach for healing and choose to take control of the things that we can change in our lives.  God grants wholeness to those who are willing...

So before you jump into a relationship with insane expectations, consider where you are at as a single man or woman.  Consider how much you have allowed Jesus to bring security, purpose, and healing into your life.  Rather than seeing your spouse as the missing piece to your puzzle, the road to marriage should be seen as two people, figuring out the puzzle together.

It is  about finding a comrade, not ultimate contentment.  It is about finding a help mate, not a healer.     

Get your ideas straight now, while you are single...and give your future spouse the most beautiful gift of realistic expectations.