QUESTION: Is marriage for everyone? Seems like divorce is a result for most marriages.
My parents divorced when I was very young. But I’ve never been cynical about marriage. Maybe that’s because years later I learned that my mother’s criteria for choosing a husband were:
1. Did he have a nice car?
2. Was he a good dancer?
Not the firmest foundation for a lasting marriage!
Marriage may not be for everyone, but whether we get married or stay single, all relationships are important and deserve to be worked out prayerfully. We can’t see very far into the future humanly, but we can listen for God’s guidance at every juncture of a relationship.
So how do we focus beyond the superficial in determining a potential life partner? What should we include in considering marriage?
One idea that’s helped me is to keep the motive unselfish. It can be tempting to go into a relationship thinking about what we want. I want someone to love me. I want what my friends have. I want children. I want the wedding of my dreams. I want someone attractive, rich, exciting, sexy. I want to stop working and let someone take care of me.
But starting from a spiritual standpoint eliminates the “I wants.” I love this prayer for relationships: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
“I shall not want” is liberating. It’s a spiritual declaration of independence and completeness that says, “I lack nothing. I have everything I need, and it comes from God and always will.” Understanding that we were created to know this completeness opens up the safest, most enjoyable, most successful and complete life path possible—whether or not it includes marriage.
If marriage does come along, let it flow from your innate goodness, from your unchangeable completeness—and from the other person’s goodness and completeness as well. Mary Baker Eddy described the joys of doing so when she wrote that a good marriage “must be a union of the affections that tends to lift mortals higher.” The unselfishness at the heart of that union is what exalts you, your partner—and even the world outside your marriage.
Article originally appeared on timeforthinkers.com as part of the “Question of the Week” series.