Why Get Married?
I want someone to love me. I want to feel loved. I want to experience being loved. I think there is a deep-seated desire to love someone, to know that out of all the people in this world, there is one that I love and that loves me back. My life has meaning because I am in love. Love is the ultimate cure for loneliness. Even when you are not together, you are still connected by this mutual feeling of love.
When I was dating my wife, we had a long-distance relationship of about 200 miles. But when we fell in love, it didn’t matter how far we were away from each other because we were in each other’s hearts. You get married because you are in love.
Being in a romantic relationship makes you feel happy. A 2012 study found that during the initial stages of love your body produces elevated levels of the hormone Oxytocin. It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling. And being in love does make you feel happy. Who doesn’t want to feel happy? Who doesn’t want to be in love?
I am happily married but still get ads when I am on the internet about finding someone to love. Single people are searching for the happiness of love. Even married people are looking to fall in love again or looking for it in someone or something outside of their marriage.
I think most people see marriage as a vehicle to get you to the happiness that you want. It starts with just being in love, then it becomes having a family, and finally having someone to share your life with, to grow old together.
This is where it gets interesting because everyone has needs that marriage can facilitate. And it’s those needs that drive us into the marketplace of love. At its base marriage is an exchange of goods. One person needs physical intimacy, while another needs providing for. So they enter into a partnership of love and marriage. In exchange for this, I am giving you this.
Those needs vary from person to person, but regardless of what those needs are, they are a part of the exchange that takes place in the marketplace of love. When you are single, you are looking for the best person to meet those needs. So you meet and develop this understanding that you are both capable and willing to meet those needs in that exchange.
I once read this book entitled “His Needs Her Needs” by Willard Harley. I would recommend it to anyone because it was very insightful and helpful. It outlines the needs of men and women and how individuals sort out those needs and how marriage can by design meet them. Love allows you to partner with someone else to have those needs met.
Maybe you mutually agree to end the whole thing and you file for divorce. “Let’s go our separate ways because we no longer can keep the exchange going and maybe we can find a better exchange somewhere else.” Maybe you both just live with the “lemon” of a deal you got stuck with. Or maybe marriage is about something entirely different.
The Real Problem
But what happens when the reasons you got married are no longer valid? What happens when you don’t feel in love anymore, you’re not happy, or your needs are not being met? So we made this agreement that I would give you these things and in exchange, you would give me those things. But now you are not keeping up your end of the deal.
The real problem is in the way you look at marriage, to begin with. When people say, “I love you” what they mean is, “I love me”. I love what you do for me. I love the way you make me feel. I love how you take care of me. Love is a big circle and I am in the middle of it.
But what if love were more than that? What if love is about the other person? “I love YOU.” It’s a turning point in love. God teaches us about a different view of love. A different way to love.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;Ephesians 5:24-25
I Love You
The subject (the person doing the action) is I. The verb(the action) is love. The object is (you). In “I love you” you are doing the loving and the other receives that love. So the focus is on the other.
The actions of love (the verb) are what the Bible emphasizes. So to the wife God says, give yourself to your husband. And to the husband He says, die to yourself for your wife. So this is not the same as the market exchange idea that most of us have. You don’t give this for that, instead, you give everything away in love to the other person.
Love Is Leaving
Way back at the beginning of human relationships in Genesis 2:24 God makes this earth-shattering statement. Leave the people you know for the love of your life. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother; and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” This is what happens in marriage. This doesn’t mean that you ignore all the other people in your life, but it does mean that all those people play a different role. They all go to the backseat for your love.
All the relationships that you had before you married your spouse are still there but their meaning and importance change. You have to give yourself 100 percent of yourself to your spouse.
Love is about you giving yourself away for your spouse.
This is the most valuable possession that you have and it’s the most important you can leave for your spouse. Before you were married you had all your time to yourself. Now you are giving that time to your spouse. But here’s the thing, you are giving all of it to them. However your time gets divided up, your spouse gets 100 percent of it.
This does not mean that you should never have a chance to pursue a hobby or spend time on something that you enjoy. But if you don’t spend time with your spouse you are stealing that time from them. Your relationship will pay for it.
Think about your time as a pie chart. What percent of that chart is taken up by work, chores, hobbies, sleep? So you just give your spouse whatever is leftover, right? No, you give your spouse all that time because they are the most important part of your life. Instead, you give all those other things your leftover time. Say what you want, but at the end of the day, you do what you want with your time.
Time together is what made you fall in love, to begin with. So if you want to stay in love you have to spend time together. Depending on what season of marriage you are in, you may have to get more creative with that time. But the actual amount of time is not as important as the value you place on it.
You may have to work to pay the bills, but you don’t have to work all the time or let your job consume your life. That time to work is a necessity. You may have to take care of the kids but time with your spouse is more important. What are some times during your day that you can spend with your spouse? This is crazy but sometimes we get more time together on the phone on my break at work or my commute home than at any other time.
You own everything together. You leave all those things behind when you say I do. The things you have are 100% about your spouse. So here we go again with the transaction way of thinking. You have those things and I have these things. I know several people who have gotten divorced and I know that things become a big issue. But when you love the way that you should love, the things you have are 100% about your spouse. You may buy something for yourself and I think that is important, but that can be a necessity for your well-being. What you have is really about someone else.
I think about the love that God has for me and how that works. He made a plan of redemption that was all about me. He is preparing a place in Heaven that is for me. Everything that God does in my life is all about me.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
I know what you are thinking. The wife thinks, if I give myself completely to my husband and submit to him completely, what will happen? And the husband thinks, if I completely die to my own life and desires for my wife, what will happen to me? So we all jump back into the marketplace of love. If I do this, what will I get in return? But when you spell love without an I you find something completely different.
Love Is Offering
In the Old Testament, the law required a sacrifice every year. So you would bring the best of your livestock once a year for the forgiveness of sins. But we learn in the New Testament that those offerings were only a type of something perfect. Jesus came to earth and He became that offering for us. Marriage is an imperfect example of that sacrifice. See Hebrews 10
Listen closely at the words of Ephesians 5:24-25, “in every thing” and “gave himself for it”. Everything about love screams giving but we just can’t seem to shake the idea of giving to get a return.
One of the most unusual stories from the Bible is found in Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9. Jesus and his disciples were in the house of Simon eating. A woman walks up behind him and pours expensive ointment on his head. A day’s wage was about 1 pence at that time so it was worth 300 day’s labor. Shocked, the disciples questioned the wastefulness of it. But Jesus commended her. What she had done was done in love.
Sometimes, wasting things is what love is all about. Could you do something more valuable with your time than spending it with your spouse? Yes but love is worth more than anything in this world! Real love is giving yourself away to your spouse. All the things that you value for yourself are nothing compared to the value of love. Chances are you know what your spouse wants, so why not give that to them? Because from your perspective it seems like a waste- you get nothing in return. But that is what it means to offer yourself.
Jesus gave himself away. And all He wanted was you.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:2
(The joy was loving you.)
The single motivating factor in love is wanting someone. Wanting them so much that you give yourself away. The world’s system has the idea that love is tied to the return. I love you as long as you give me this. But Bible love is something entirely different. I give myself to you because I love you. I only want you.
It’s what drove Jesus to die for you. I only want you. I only want you to love me. Why would a modern woman in the age of feminism completely submit to her husband? Because she loves her husband. Because she says I only want you. Why would a man with all the aspirations and the potential in the world give his life for his wife? Because he says, I only want you. So they stand at a wedding altar and they offer themselves to each other.
But the more you offer, the more your love grows. What if you did something crazy? What if you just gave yourself to your spouse? What if you said, I only want you? I think we say it so assuredly on our wedding day because the returns are just so obvious. All the romantic feelings and tension collide and you say something like, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. But it’s when you reach the end of that, you say I want you. I want all of you. I want everything you are and everything you will become.
I’m Doing This for You
The youth choir in our church used to sing this song that was written from the point of view of a Roman soldier who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. The chorus goes like this.
He said, “I’m doing this for you
And I will still love you when you’re through
I’m doing this for you”
Though it took me by surprise when I saw love in His eyes
He said, “I’m doing this for you”
So you look at your spouse, hold their hands and you say, “I am doing this for you.” or maybe you don’t say anything at all, you just say it in your mind. Offering yourself for your spouse means that you do it because you love them. The words I love you mean so much more than few characters on a page or a simple phrase.
I want you for you. I don’t want you for the way you look, or all the attractive things about you. But I want you for the person that you are. I love YOU.
I think this is what makes the story of the Gospel so amazing. That Christ loved me so much that He gave His life for me. He loved me so much. There are not a lot of lovely things about me. But he says, I love you, love me back.
That is what marriage is, I love you. I love you so much that I am giving myself to you. And all I want is for you to love me back.
Love Is Volunteering
These verses are looked at as commandments in our way of thinking. To the wife, ”you better submit completely to your husband.” And to the Husband, “you better love your wife and die to yourself or else.” Even worse, we think or maybe even say, “You better submit to me, because you have to, or you better love me because you have to.”
OK, really? So you want your wife to completely submit to you because she has to? Or do you want your husband to completely love you because he has to? What kind of love is that? I don’t want to submit to you, but I guess I will since I HAVE to. I don’t love you anymore but I guess I will since I Have to. What!?
I am just going to be honest, I don’t want my wife doing things for me because she has to. I would rather her not do those things than do those things out of obligation or fear. Just don’t do it all if you can’t do it in love! Love means Volunteering, but how do you make it voluntary?
Re-calibrate Your Thinking
The Story of ME
But that is not the way God wants you to interpret the Bible. God says to me in Ephesians 5:24-25, “Jason, love your wife, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’ As so I am on this journey to a better husband, a husband who loves his wife so much that he lays down his life for her.
Remember the world’s way of thinking is that love is an exchange with a return. I am offering you this and you have that to offer me so let’s make this transaction called marriage. Christians sometimes superimpose the world’s way of thinking onto the Bible. So the world’s way of thinking applied to Ephesians 5:24-25 is that my wife has to submit to ME! I have needs and she needs to submit to those needs in my life. Because marriage is a transaction and she better do her part because the Bible says so!
Becomes the Story of Another
So now I am giving because I love. Now I am dying for another. And when I do this I am making our love story about my spouse. This is hard because it makes ME vulnerable. It means that the “Me” part of our love has to die. And it’s never easy to die, especially when it’s me.
When this happens I do what I do purely out of love. I volunteer to give my life away. A wife volunteers herself to completely submit to her husband. She does it freely because she wants to. Loving and submitting to me means something different when it is done in this way. I want to do this for you because I love you.
And Shadows a Bigger Story
The Gospel is such an amazing story. That God sent His son to die in my place even when I had no thoughts of loving Him. Jesus gives His life for a sinful person just because He wants them. He says, I love you and want YOU as you are. And so love is displayed in its purest form. Jesus submitted willingly to die for me because He loves me.
Lose Yourself in the Mission
When you love each other the way the Bible teaches, you do get a return but it’s a different kind of return. It’s knowing you have done something for another. The return is the joy of seeing your spouse is taken care of. It’s the joy of giving yourself for someone else.
The only reason I am doing this is because I love you. My mission as a spouse is about YOU. Because of that, I do what I do for you freely. See how that means more if it is done willingly?
Believe in the Reward
There is more to it than just this life. There is coming a day when we will see Jesus face to face and receive rewards for what we have done for him. And marriage is the perfect opportunity to win those eternal rewards.
When you love your spouse you are loving and obeying God. You will have an eternal reward. Learning to love your spouse teaches you to love God.
Love Is Expecting
When I was little I used to think about what falling in love and getting married would be like. I even had this picture in my mind of a little house with a white picket fence. I remember thinking that I would probably live in a house like that and I would probably marry someone like that. And then you wonder about what having a family would be like. Expectations are the whole reason you get married. But where do those expectations of love come from?
Where Do Expectations Come From?
Your Family Circle
I think what you see from your parents drives more of your expectations than anything else. Even in the negative, you form expectations for your love, “I am never going to do things that way.” Or maybe you know married couples in your family or friends circle and you form expectations for love and marriage based on what you see or don’t see in them.
Growing up we would just throw our clothes on the floor and every day my mom would clean up and pick up all the clothes, then wash and fold them. We didn’t have to worry about laundry at all until we got a little older. That’s probably not the best expectation for marriage though!
A lot of what we all think about love comes from books and movies. Love should look like this because this is what I have seen. If you read romantic books or watch romantic movies, chances are you have certain expectations for your spouse and your marriage based on what you have seen or read.
There are these ideas that you have in your mind about what love and marriage should be like. You develop these expectations for your marriage and your spouse based on those ideas wherever they came from.
And you go into marriage with all these expectations. You even stay together in hopes that those expectations are somehow going to pan out. If we go to marriage counseling, if we go on a get-away, or if we try harder.
You go to church and see how married couples interact. You learn about what marriage should look like from the Bible. So based on what you are taught and what you learn, you develop all these expectations. And these are the expectations that you have for yourself, your spouse, and your marriage.
What’s Wrong with Expectations?
So this is where you can start to see how the wrong kind of expectations can hurt your relationship. It may be a good idea to talk about some of your expectations with your spouse. Maybe they don’t know that you have certain expectations for them? Sometimes when you talk about your expectations you can see how crazy they are! I expect you to let me sit on the couch and relax while you pay all the bills, keep the house spotless, take care of the kids, and do everything else except maybe cut the grass.
They Are Unrealistic
To think that your spouse is going to cater to your every emotional whim as the guys do in romantic books and movies is an impossible expectation for your spouse to live up to. And to think your wife is going to be like the action movie chick is impossible too. The flaming hot love interest jumps out of a plane and her hair and makeup still look perfect! Plus to expect your wife to fall into your arms and give you whatever you want whenever you want is VERY unreasonable to expect!
Even when it comes to your faith. Let’s face it, we all act our best at church. And what you see from other couples at church may not be an accurate representation of what is going on behind the scenes. No one walks into church talking about the argument they had on the way there! No one talks about the marriage problems they had during the week. Even Bible teaching about marriage is sometimes shaded with the world’s philosophies. It all works together to make the expectations that you have for your marriage completely unrealistic.
They Are Motivated by Selfishness
Come on, why do you have all these expectations for your marriage? It’s because of what you want. So it’s not about your spouse at all. You want your spouse to cater to your every romantic whim because that would be all about you. You want your spouse to fall into your arms and give you everything you want when you want it because that would be all about you.
But the truth about marriage is something entirely different. Love is all about the other person. Your expectations can undermine your relationship by making your love about yourself.
They Are Unfulfilling
Expectations can take away any fulfillment in your love life because you are expecting something from your spouse that is impossible! You are setting your marriage up for failure if you carry all these unreasonable expectations. Even the expectations that seem reasonable can become a problem in your marriage depending on your season of life or circumstances.
What Are the Right Expectations?
To Love and Be Loved Only
This is where things get real. Your only expectation for your marriage should be for you to love and to be loved in return. This doesn’t mean that you stop loving if they don’t love you back. It just means that is all you want from your spouse. I want to love you and I want you to love me back.
To Change Yourself with God’s Help
As a believer, I am on this journey to become a better husband and Christian. So if there are any expectations for a change it is all on my part. Whatever happens, I just want my spouse to love me but I want it to be the best version of me possible.
To Enjoy a Life of Love Together
How about an expectation of loving each other for the rest of your life? I want you and you only for the rest of my life because I am learning to spell love without an I!
Podcast music by Dan Lebowitz