It’s time to celebrate the wonder of marriage and the benefits of a lifelong love. Britney is in her early thirties and has mostly married friends. As a single, Britney told me she sees marriage from the perspective of what you gain, but almost all her married friends see marriage from the perspective of what they have lost. They seem frustrated with what their marriage isn’t, while Britney sees so much of what their marriage is and provides.
“When I get married,” Britney told me, “I hope I can remember that it’s such a blessing just to have someone who is there for you. He might not parent your child the way you want him to, but at least he’s having a child with you. He might not help clean the house as much as you hoped he would, but he’s there to get it dirty! He might like to occasionally go out with his friends, but he comes home to you at night. When you’re single, you’re all alone all the time. I hope I can remember what this feels like, that it would be such a blessing to have someone who wants to do life with me.”
It’s so helpful for me to talk to people like Britney because I’ve never really been single. I got married when I was twenty-two so I never had an independent “adult” life without a spouse. If Britney had been my friend back then, she’d probably have seen in me what she sees in her friends now—someone who takes the benefits of marriage for granted while complaining about the biggest frustrations and losses to my single friends.
Marriage is a wonder. The personal benefits of marriage are enormous. For me, I’ve seen how marriage has helped me in three particular areas: personal healing, happiness, and growth in holiness.
The Wonder of Marriage: The Healing Power of Acceptance
The spiritual art of “accepting” each other is one of the best and most healing aspects of marriage; it’s also a biblical command: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7).
Lisa and I met two friends for dinner after work. I arrived first, and then the couple; Lisa came last since she was traveling from home. When my wife slid into the restaurant booth, she snuggled up right next to me, giving a little exclamation of delight.
“Are you cold?” asked the young woman.
“No,” Lisa said. “It’s just that he’s been gone all day. I haven’t seen him yet. I miss him.”
Her comment, thirty years into our marriage, made me feel like a king. She missed me.
One of the most healing aspects of marriage for me has been the fact that I live with a woman who knows me better than anyone else ever has or ever will and yet she still likes me. She even respects me. Even with all my particularities, bad habits, and weaknesses, she truly wants to be with me.
That brings a lot of healing to a basically insecure man (and says some even more marvelous things about the graciousness of my wife). When Lisa married me, I was the player who was second or third-string on every team he played on until he started running cross country. The only job I had was part-time and my prized possession was a ten-year old Ford Maverick Grabber. I had a college degree in English Literature which meant my first job offer after four years of study was as a busboy–not even a waiter, a busboy!
But Lisa chose me and continues to choose me. I’m in a world where everything I do gets evaluated; every sermon, every book, every blog post. But no matter how poor the sermon, how misguided the blog post, or how boring the book, Lisa’s going home with me.
Shannon had a “colorful” background as a single woman before she became a Christian, which was about a year and a half before she met Jason. Jason had been a committed believer his entire life, was raised in a homeschool, and his regular prayer since the time he was twelve years old was that God would provide a “godly virgin” for him to marry.
As they got to know each other, Jason told Shannon about his early prayer, not knowing anything about her past. Shannon wondered if she should end any romantic hopes right there. But the rest of the relationship seemed so good that eventually she took a deep breath and told Jason that before she became a Christian, she had been with…several…men.
Jason smiled—he smiled!—and said, “Of course you were. But none of those men will love you like I will.” Jason’s acceptance of her past told Shannon, “You’re not damaged goods. You’re the woman I want to spend my life with.” Shannon found great healing from past shame, proving the sweetness of that Scripture we have already quoted, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7).