Monday, 21 October 2013

The priority of marriage

If there's any good advice that was given to me when I got married it from my mother in law. She told me that we should never argue over money. It was good advice and given my separation from God for many years of marriage it helped me maintain through legalistic rules the integrity of marriage. I was also given advice by the Episcopalian (now Catholic) minister that I should put Christ at the head of the marriage. While I had a vague understanding of what that meant, in that I saw marriage as something almost tangible as something that was alive that I had to honour, that meant more than either of us individually, I didn't quite understand what putting Christ at the head of our marriage meant. Now that I have a much better understanding and a true acceptance of Christ I really understand better what that means. It means putting marriage first in your life. It means it is more important than going out with your friends, or buying the latest video game. It means it is more important than the commitment you have to your job or what your boss says, indeed, your job is really for the most part there to support your marriage. It is more important than any of your other ministries. In my case it supersedes and is more important than anything I do in church, or anything I do to support the fellowship of the church. That includes the duty of spreading the gospel to the unsaved. It is more important because it is what you are. You are no longer two individuals that are working separately but as the Bible says you are one flesh. You are one body. Your primary duty in serving Christ in His ministry is your marriage. If you feel you are not physically capable of going to church today and you need to stay at home then you will take a day off. However in marriage, you cannot just go on what you feel but what your partner says. So if your wife says she isn't up to it, and that you should stay with her then you need to answer that in the same way you would your body telling you the same thing.

It goes beyond agreement though, it means sharing everything. You no longer eat off individual plates, but you share the same plate. Those chips aren't my chips, or her chips. They're our chips. That’s not my money I've earned, or her money she's earned, it's our money. Obviously the limits at which you share things has to be agreed between two of you. I doubt many married couples want to share the same underwear or the same toothbrush. It goes beyond the material of course. The need to be together becomes physical. You, after a while, start to think the same, a single look can express so much more than an entire sermon. It hurts just to be away from each other for a few hours.

There will be times of trouble, most of all in the initial stages of understanding what marriage means to you. If the stress of planning a wedding seems a lot, it is by no means the most stressful time you will have in your marriage. The conflicts turn into wars so easily, and a single word or, a single look can start a conflict. The conflicts are often so intense because the love is so intense. It is no different from the detrimental effect of having part of your own physical body in conflict with you, a broken leg, or a pulled muscle is all you can think about when the pain is strong. It is like that in a marriage, but like any body, it will heal itself over time if you are committed to it.

Over time marriage changes you. You will eventually forget what it was like to not be married. When that times comes, your biggest fear, in fact, eventually your only fear, is that it will end, and unfortunately that is inevitable.