Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.
Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.
I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.
Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?
Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.
A Powerful Moment
Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down, or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.
My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.
Defying the “Walmart philosophy”
My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.
No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”
Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.
But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and anguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.
I realised that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realisation brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.
To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.
And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.
Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.
Feature Image: Artwork by Android Jones
While it’s a noble and romantic idea to marry FOR the other person, then you are living FOR them as well. “I’d die for you, but I can’t live for you” is powerful statement. You assume that if you love the other person more, that somehow they will love you back and return the favor, which makes it worth it. But what if they don’t? How long can you live for another? Ten years? Thirty? Fifty? Sooner or later, it will take its toll.
The father who gave the advice most likely developed that “insight” decades into the marriage, coming to that conclusion to justify to himself why he should stay within the marriage, to make it worth it for him, to allow him make a decision that was congruent with his values.
Divorce is not the worse thing. Quiet desperation in a marriage when you know you should have left years ago is far worse. Mentally checking out or being spiritually dead is a much worse fate than divorce.
Marrying someone FOR THEM sounds noble, sure. But convincing yourself to live for another is the most destructive, soul-crushing idea one could have if you don’t feel marriage is for you. Or perhaps, you just don’t have anything else to devote your soul to, and marriage for another gives you purpose. But your spirit came into this world for its own reasons. Discover those reasons and give your life over to them. Live for THEM. Not your spouse.
Really now i change my opinion on marriage….actually when i married a person only depend on whose make happy me but now i changed….only give happiness make them happy my family thats alll….very good article…
We hope most giving stilll use ful topics on human relations
I agree but mostly disagree. marriage is for both of you. There is a difference between selfishness and fulfillment. Everyone has different needs. Yes it’s about giving, but also about taking so it is about sharing, and if you want to share different things then what you want to give may be too much. What you get may be too little. It is largely a matter of compatibility. Loneliness and resentment may follow if your needs are very different. If you have tried to give what He does’t want, and wanted what He doesn’t want to give then it might be time to find what you both need, elsewhere. We all make mistakes.
I disagree. You cannot make another person happy.
This article puts a lot of stress upon an individual to make someone else happy. The raising of children, I can see the desire for marriage. However, “marriage” does not guarantee commitment, love, fidelity, or financial stability and most of all, happiness.
We need to quit equating the institution of marriage with anything other than a legal and religious contracts.
The Soul-Mate Relationship
Nice article. I’m currently reading a book titled “Sacred Marriage” which has a similar premise, except it goes further. The purpose of marriage is not to make your spouse happy, it’s so much more. Happiness is only a lit bit of it. The purpose of marriage is to help refine one another in every aspect of life. To be there in the best and worst of times and to learn to love unconditionally.
“Sacred Marriage” has a strong Biblical emphasis, and I’ve found it to be the true ticket to a lasting marriage, a marriage so brilliant that the world will stop to look at my union with my wife as something very powerful. And not in that we are happy, but in that we are self-less, and we are focused on the highest good of ourselves and others. That we look to the Oneness of God to help us learn to become one with each other and become a force that breaks down barriers in the world so that the communities we become part of are strengthened by our harmony and that this world more and more conforms to the image of God.
Great article, really enlightening. I’m single but I find this information to be very helpful in all relationships (romantic or otherwise) not just in marriage.
That last image though might be considered NSFW for some, just saying 🙂
The picture on the top. Where did you get it? May I?
i really love this. thank you. i recently had a reverse situation. i was unhappy in my relationship, and the responses to my opening up was either dismissal or desperation. i had the intense feeling that i was no more than an accessory to his identity. so i asked myself, was i being selfish for wanting to break things up, or was it because i was not capable of truly giving my love to this person anymore? i examined that question for months while i went through the motions of selfless love. the best take away for me from this article was that introspection and honesty about the experience of a relationship is essential. (we were not married — marriage to me is an oath before the participant’s gods or god and something i could not undertake with this individual, i thought yet, but now i know.)