According to Webster, marriage is, the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law. In this post, I want to look at the first eight words of this definition; the state of being united to a person.
What exactly does that mean?
Marriage is, by definition, a state of being. When a person goes from being single to being married, they are entering into a whole new "state of being". This is important to remember. When entering into this new state of being, the person is leaving another state of being, namely the single state. Think of the person as walking out of one room (single life) through a door (the marriage ceremony) into another room (married life). Needless to say, most people recognize that there will be an adjustment as the married person learns to embrace the new room (or state) that he or she is in. A lot of resistance can occur when the person is in this new room and instead of venturing through it, seeing how they can make it beautiful and embracing it, they keep trying to hold onto that other room; their old life. They may have been very comfortable in the other room and scared to find out what may lie ahead in the new room. Nonetheless, countless couples, regardless of their background or belief systems wind up "getting married" every year. Could the desire for this "state of being united to a person" be somehow written on the heart of man? So, the person goes from being single and "un-united" if you will, to married and being united to a person. And, this, is where the rubber meets the road (is that the expression?).
Getting to the title of this post. When the single person lives their life in such a way that life becomes all about them and they are not used to sacrificing for another person, it becomes that much harder to adjust to the state of being united to another person; marriage. There is not a clear understanding about the very nature of marriage. To be united, it becomes about the other. Love is an action that oftentimes looks and feels like sacrifice. To grow in love and unity can/will be painful, but it will be impossible if the couple doesn't have an accurate understanding of what it takes for true unity to be built.
Unfortunately, we grew up in a culture that has put so much emphasis on independence and do whatever "feels good," that our desire for unity has become fractured. It's like, we want unity with another person, or to be united, but we don't want to make the sacrifices that would make that unity possible, because it would require something from us. There is no judgement here because I struggle with this very ideal.
There is so much to say about this and of course, there is no true unity without God, the One Who has united heaven and earth and humanity with divinity through Jesus Christ. But just on a natural level, the couples that I know who are successful, have learned this simple, but profound and life-changing truth; life is not about me and my personal happiness. It's about sacrificing for the other and learning how to love authentically. Then joy comes.