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Marriage is Forever

The Purpose of Marriage

Marriage is the way men and women show that their commitment to each other is for life. Within marriage, they learn to respect and love each other, take responsibility for each other and enjoy each other’s bodies sexually. A marriage commitment is for life. This arrangement is good for the children. It guarantees that the two parents are totally committed to the children and to each other. It creates a safe space where children can grow up feeling loved and cared for, physically and emotionally.

Happily Ever After…?

Marriage should be natural and easy - you fall in love and then you get married and you live happily ever after: what could possibly be challenging about it? To teenagers, marriage is about everlasting romantic love. “Once I find a person who I am madly in love with and who is madly in love with me, marriage will be easy. Our love will keep us together no matter what happens." Right? To adults, marriage is about commitment. It is about staying in love

and staying together for a lifetime despite the fact that both partners are individuals who change over time and have different wants and desires.

Honeymoon

The first few months of most marriages are easy. This phase is called the "honeymoon phase" and may last up to a year. The honeymoon phase exists because the couple is enjoying the advantages of being married:

living together, being together constantly, sharing everything together, looking toward the future as a team, planning a family, sexual intimacy, trust, closeness. The honeymoon phase is really Eros love, and the couple are still so wrapped up in an ideal view of each other, that they ignore any problems or major differences which may be lurking. The honeymoon period starts to end as the couple

Marriage is Forever The Purpose of Marriage Marriage is the way men and women show that

get to know each other more, and begin to realise that marriage lasts a lifetime.

Staying Together

So what is challenging about staying together? You have probably noticed that many married couples spend a lot of time fighting and wondered why. At any given moment, the two people in the marriage may want two completely different things. Some of these differences can be so serious, that they can cause the marriage to fail. It’s all about being able to compromise: giving in a little to what your partner wants. Being stubborn doesn’t work. For example: You want to live close to your family but so does your spouse, and the families live 1,000 miles apart. You want to go to church but your spouse wants to stay home on Sunday morning. You want to spend money, but your partner wants to save it. The conflict that arises can be extremely difficult to manage. Imagine facing one or two situations like this every day, day in and day out, for 50 years. That’s when you have to start working at it, with patience, generosity and a lot of forgiving.

What kind of loving?

So what is going to save a marriage, if Eros can’t carry it through? Philia love, perhaps. Your spouse should also be your friend, someone that you share things in common with, things that help keep you close together. But even this kind of love might not ride out the

disagreements. It takes the kind of selfless love that Jesus was talking about: Agape. Loving someone else more than you love yourself. Sacrificing your own needs and desires for theirs. Of course, it wouldn’t be healthy if one partner did all the sacrificing all of the time, and there may be some things that one or the other partner just feels can’t be sacrificed.

That’s the challenge of marriage. That’s why you need to know the person you will be getting married to, and to know that it is going to be someone who will work with you daily and love you enough to solve all of the problems that arise. Then you will have a successful marriage that brings you joy throughout your life.

A. The Challenges of Marriage

How can these things be challenges to a marriage? Can you think of any others? Which ones do you consider to be the most serious?

Laziness

Infidelity

Disagreements over having children

Belonging to different/ no religion

In laws opposed to the marriage partner

Abuse or violence in the relationship

Addiction to alcohol or drugs will destroy any marriage.

B. Your Ideal Spouse

What do you think are the most important qualities in a marriage partner? Draw a picture of your ideal husband/ wife, and annotate what qualities they should have to make the marriage work.

C. Our Society

Look at the table. What can you say about marriage from comparing the number of marriages/ divorces in 1950 and in 2000?

UK MARRIAGES & DIVORCES (in thousands)

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

Number of first marriages

330

336

389

279

241

180

Number of re-marriages

78

57

82

140

135

126

Number of marriages

408

394

471

418

375

306

Number of divorces

33

26

63

160

168

155