Written By Mel Radley
When we consider the increasing divorce rate and the number of people trapped in unhappy marriages, an obvious question to ask these days is: 'Why should I get married?'
In spite of rising scepticism and pessimism regarding marriage today, there are still good and sound reasons in favour of marriage.
Scripture clearly teaches us that marriage is the will of God for people. After God created Adam, He saw that it was not good for him to be alone and He created Eve. God did not create a parent and a child in paradise, or two men, or two women, or a group of people. He created a man and a woman.
The story of the Bible starts with a marriage (Adam and Eve) and ends with a marriage (Christ and the church). The husband-wife relationship is constantly referred to in Paul's writings as a metaphor for Jesus' relationship with us, His bride. In the creation account, it is interesting to note that the only thing that was 'not good' was Adam's loneliness. So God created Eve, and He instituted marriage. Interestingly, marriage existed before the Fall of man – when everything was still perfect and untainted by sin. Marriage is part of God's original plan.
Despite the fact that there is an increased pessimism about marriage, statistics offer some interesting insights :
• Those who live together before marriage are more likely to break up after marriage.
• A 1992 study of retirement data shows that people who have been continuously married had 75% more wealth than those who never married or who divorced and never remarried. Even more remarkably, married men have been shown to earn 10-40% more than single men with similar education and job histories.
• 61-62% of married people in surveys indicated that they were very happy in their marriages. Strikingly, however, studies demonstrate that two-thirds of unhappy marriages become happy within five years if the people in them stay married and do not get divorced.
Marriage truly is transformational
One of the main reasons for marriage is the power that it has to change us as people. We are, by nature, selfish, but marriage proves a major obstacle to unrestrained self-expression and fulfilment. When more than one will occupy the same space, there is bound to be conflict, even when the partners are a great fit or the best of friends. Marriage, more than anything else, has the potential to teach us to make allowances for one another, to consider the needs and desires of someone else before our own, and to make sacrifices.
Here are some ways in which marriage changes us:
• It softens us – our hearts must be soft if we are to love.
• It toughens us – we have to be able to handle criticism.
• It broadens us – our lives become bigger.
• It grounds us – marriage 'earths' our idealistic notions.
• It 'un-petties' us – it undermines our tendencies to become stuck in our ways.
• It anchors us – marriage brings a deep sense of confidence and security.
In short, marriage is where we learn to love truly. And when we love, we change. We change from being self-absorbed, selfish people to loving, caring people – the kind of people that build a great society.
Statistics from Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage.