Our marriages are in danger. No, I’m not talking about the recent SCOTUS decision regarding same-sex marriage. I think marriages have been under attack for years, decades, even centuries. The best way I can explain this is to take you through my own experience with marriage, especially how influences affected my life leading up to marriage.
Media was a big influencer for me. Whether it was TV, movies or music, media infiltrated every aspect of my life, including how to define and go about having a romantic relationship. There were three things I learned about relationships from the media. First, kissing is an impulsive, spur of moment thing that may or may not mean you are in a relationship with someone. Second, relationships as a whole are not very stable. They never seemed to last longer than a season, and if they did, then they were taking it to the next level. Which brings me to the third thing, sex. While it could be a serious event, mostly it was pretty casual. I mean, a simple first kiss could lead to waking up naked next to each other in the morning.
At this time, the church didn’t have a lot to say about romantic relationships, other than don’t have sex until you are married. However, relationships are so much more complex than just the purity angle Even though I think we should be very candid and open about that angle, there was other conversations about relationships that weren’t really addressed, like how to have appropriate relationships with the opposite gender in general or how to initiate a romantic relationship or how to wait (or prepare) for a romantic relationship to happen (saying you have all the time in the world to a teenager really doesn’t help).
So, in high school, I had this fear of getting too close to guys. I went on maybe two dates in the four years of school. I didn’t want to start kissing because, according to TV, it would lead to this uncontrollable act of sex, and I didn’t want to go there. Then, in college, I felt like the idea of sex was the only reason guys were even interested in talking to me (to be fair, I had a LOT of self-worth issues). So I danced along boundary lines, seeing how close I could get in hopes of keeping a guy around without compromising my virginity (though my purity was compromised pretty completely).
Then, after years of “Don’t,” all of the sudden, I walk down an aisle, say a vow, and then it was all about the “Do!” And even then, sex was all about procreation. And when that factor becomes a struggle, this relationship built on the Don’t and Do of sex seems lost in the mix. What does this marriage relationship mean if I don’t have kids?
(Having open, honest conversations about sex in marriage is a great thing. Using resources like books, seminars, and retreats to open the lines of communication between spouses are necessary tools in maintaining a marriage. But I struggled with thinking that this marriage was built on what I put into it and valued by what I got out of it.)
Then I realized. I am in a monogamous relationship with my husband because it is what would honor God. No matter where I am in life, I am there with the purpose to share God’s love, to glorify God in my relationships. Sure, there is romance and butterflies, sweeping gestures and quotable lines. And someday, we will get pregnant, raise our babies, and send them out into the world. But that’s not where our foundation rests. It rests in God.
If I could give advice to my younger self about marriage, it would be to get to know God long before you get to know your spouse, before the first kiss, the first date, even the first flirt. Pray for all the relationships you will have, that they glorify God first because worth comes from God, not your relationships. Whatever has happened in your relationships or marriages so far, remember that God thinks you are worth his love so much that he gave his Son to die for your sins. And that love will never change, no matter what.