I’m back! I was on vacation for three weeks (which turned into a month). I haven’t posted here in awhile and I thought, “Well, it’s about time.” What I am really into right now is talking about the purpose of marriage. Before we go further, this is for you if you are going through a tough season in your marriage, or you’re experiencing a test, or a moment of disconnection, or your spouse isn’t doing something that you want them to do, or it doesn’t look like they’re taking your marriage growth as seriously as you are. Maybe you’re feeling a little bit sorry for yourself. This is for you. This is for me. This is for everyone. This is not only for marriage relationships, but this is also for relationships in general.
We are taught by our culture that marriage is some place that you go to live happily ever after. For those of you who have been married for some time, you know that this is a lie. You don’t just do all the work trying to find the perfect partner, and then once you find the perfect partner, that’s then when everything is just rainbows and sunshine. This unrealistic expectation that our culture places on marriage I’m sure accounts for many, many, many divorces. You have all these thoughts going into marriage, and that’s going to create this big dream-like imaginary world.
When that doesn’t come true, you not only wonder what’s wrong with your marriage, but more importantly, what’s wrong with your spouse, and then secondarily, what’s wrong with you (but more so what’s wrong with your spouse if we’re being honest about it; people would not remarry if they really looked at themselves first). So, here’s what I believe about the purpose of life, because we have to look there first.
A very universal concept is to develop as a human being. To grow, to become more caring, more compassionate, more understanding. To fight the battle against our ego, which serves to disconnect us from each other, and serves to protect us. Protection isn’t a bad thing, but that’s when anger and frustration and defensiveness and criticism come out. If the purpose of life is to grow as a human being, to become stronger, to develop those muscles that eventually lead to more happiness, more contentment, more joy, more enthusiasm, more flexibility, more understanding, really more personal fulfillment and satisfaction, then in that context… what is the purpose of marriage?
I don’t think it’s any different.
I think marriage is simply a laboratory in which we can do that “people growing” work that we need to do in ourselves, which is the purpose of life. This is vastly different from the “happily ever after” scenario that we’ve been taught and fed… Disney movie after Disney movie, romantic comedy after romantic comedy, romance novel after romance novel, in our culture.
From that context, if we can look at marriage through that frame, then what happens when we’re going through a challenging season in our marriage? If we look at it from the romantic view of happily ever after, we get really frustrated, and dissatisfied, and blame-y, and criticize-y (those are words) because marriage is not fulfilling its promise. If we look at it from the perspective that marriage is a laboratory for us in which to fulfill our purpose in life which is to grow as human beings, it becomes an opportunity. I’ve experienced this many times not only in my marriage, but also in other relationships as well. It is the harder road, short-term, but not the harder road in the long-term because the harder road in the long-term is to place your happiness and satisfaction in the hands of other people. When you do that, all you can do really is blame other people for what you’re going through which is disempowering.
When you do that, all you can do is blame other people for what you’re going through, which is disempowering.
When I was going through the biggest test of my marriage, I had to almost minute by minute tell myself, “This is a test sent to me for my own perfecting.” How was I going to grow? What choices was I going to make? How was I going to take responsibility for the situation that I found myself in? How was I going to rise up to a higher level of consciousness than I had been previously?
I know it’s super cliché, but it works. That is what I challenge you to do if you’re in a situation with your partner or with somebody else you’re in a relationship with. What is this growth opportunity here in front of you? How will you become more compassionate, more understanding, more patient? What will you change about your character? How have you contributed to this dynamic in your relationship? How can you be happy for somebody even when it feels like a detriment to your own happiness?
I know from experience, this is the happily ever after of marriage, when two people can mature and grow and become more self-reflective, that is when marriage becomes phenomenal. I’m not saying that I’ve reached that stage of my marriage just yet, but I am getting a glimmer of it, which is extremely exciting and I want that for you too as well. Good luck with this challenge, let me know how it goes and I will be thinking of you. Talk to you later.