Almost all people want/need companionship - but not all people want to be married. There’s a lot at stake in marriage. It’s a serious legal and personal step. One gives up a lot of individuality in favor of a partnership. We gain companionship, which is good (Ecl. 4:9-12) but we no longer have complete control over our own personal lives. That’s hard.
Have you ever seen a “three legged sack race”? You know the kind of silly race you did in school or at camp with two people trying to run together, each with one leg in a burlap bag? It’s funny to watch the awkwardness but the two running together do not always find the same humor. It’s hard to do for long.
Marriage means learning to do things in an unnatural way. Walking and running are easy. Unless there’s someone else’s leg with yours in a sack! Legs are rarely the same length so someone has to hold back in their natural stride. Someone is always stronger and must coordinate with the weaker one to go anywhere. If the direction or goal is not agreed upon, the two might not even want to go the same way. So they have to work things out and quickly!
Marriage means coordinating things. Coordination of everything is constantly required for the entire duration of marriage. Money, goals, hopes, children, time and other life details do not work themselves out. When two people get married there will be endless issues to negotiate in the partnership. Talking it out may at times be heated and loud but the alternative is a silent, cold, alienated resentment. Even good marriages can sometimes have periods of conflict, anger and pounding out compromises. Those are noisy, messy, unpleasant activities but very worthwhile. Interestingly, one marriage study found that 2/3 of the people who said they were unhappy in their marriage had changed to very happy within five years.
Some people only stay married because of the financial cost of separating. Some stay not to upset family dynamics. I hope that most stay married because they truly want the continued companionship of their spouse, whom they love and enjoy life with.
God made men and women for each other, “for this cause” (Mt.19:5). He intended for them to get together and then stay together for life (Mt. 19:5-6). It’s not easy. It’s not painless. But like arriving at a beautiful vista after a long hard climb, the view from the top makes the climb worthwhile.
- Tim Orbison