- Gender and Relationships
freedom of a marriage
for better for worse
In celebrating my wedding anniversary; nearly three decades of being married; reflecting on the beauty of a marriage and the freedom I have found in it.
The vows that my wife and I shared on the beautiful, warm September 3rd before members of family, friends and congregation of God's people:-
"I, (Me), take you (Her), to be my lawfully wedded (wife), to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward, until death do us part ...."
And on placing the ring on her finger, this vow:
"I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness. As I place it on your finger, I commit my heart and soul to you.... wear this ring as a reminder of the vows we have spoken today, our wedding day."
The decision to marry this particular girl was taken with a great deal of sincerity and deep love. I had had a good opportunity to take someone else and I settled for this particular one, to share my entire life and worth without leaving anything out, until death. I also considered the possibility of future changes like divorce and settled the matter in my heart.
Twenty-something years later I am reflecting on the biggest gain, an unexpected freedom. I used to fear that marriage would take away my freedom. Marriage has given me freedom that I did not have; freedom to love and to be loved and freedom to be myself. In my father's culture a married man weighs far more than an unmarried one. In matters of community a married man is given more honor far more than his contemporaries and is consulted on matters that matter most: family.
Along the way there have been times when I could have blown it. I have experienced periods of jealousy, and a wandering mind when attraction towards some other woman became rather strong. There have been moments when I thought I had made a mistake to get married. These, though few apart are tempting moments. And the antidote for temptation has been faith.
Some time before the whole idea of getting married came on my radar screen I listened to one of our peers named Pious who shared his experience of marriage. His conclusion was stark and his ominous warning, "Marriage is very very hard," he said, "it is very hard to understand women." He would readily reverse his decision to marry, if given a chance. He was married to two women.
The pressure to marry, if I may call it that, came from deep inside my heart. I wish I could say someone pressured me to find a partner, but that would be untrue. The thought came to me one day as I was singing a song at a friend's house. Suddenly, like a light bulb switched On in a dark room, I felt a certain "loneliness" in my heart, and I knew the feeling even though I had never been married before. The search for my marriage partner started there.They say Every one of us has someone cut out specifically for us by the Maker, my task was to find her. Marriage, they say, is conceived in heaven and assembled on earth. I needed to assemble mine.
Over the years I have reflected on the words Pious gave us about marriage, to see for myself what actually causes marriage to be so hard and if a woman would be so hard to understand. Pious was right, I concluded, in some respects but not wholly.
It is not easy to understand another person especially when you are totally the opposite. This tension is what makes marriage beautiful in the first degree. There is a tension to be managed there. I was determined to make my marriage work. In order to achieve this I decided early that I was not going to try and make my girl be like me. I would let her be her! I would do all in my power to support her efforts and to make her happy. I decided not to try and teach her morals seeing she was of age.
I have learned that our net worth as a couple is measured in terms of how much we invest in one another. I am the one who put in an initial deposit in her. I proposed marriage; she accepted. I have an account and she too. I have a greater stake because, in reality it was my idea. She has a huge investment because she agreed.
The vows we shared in church fixed our covenant. But they were not the centerpiece of our marriage; they were the external demonstration of a much deeper sacred covenant initiated by Me, accepted by Her and endorsed by Heaven. The presence of so many witnesses was symbolic of agreement in heaven.
Besides petty differences that happen every now and then over things ranging from toothpaste to money in the bank, life with my bride has been like living with a true friend. It has been just like living with my siblings, when we were growing up together. I have been gentle with my wife as my father used to be with my mother; I have been friendly dealing with her as I saw my father with my mother and I have tried to be affectionate and show tender kisses and hugs, something my father did not do in front of us as kids.
My wife is a friend and not a stranger in my life; our house and everything in it belongs equally to each of us without distinction. Our bank accounts are regarded as one and in every way we are one. I understand Pious had a difficult marriage, after all he had two wives to deal with. I am happily married and I have only one.
In the same way as my relationship to Christ has granted me freedom to go out and freely love, marriage has liberated me to go out and freely love.
This is a celebration of liberty and not bondage; of joy and peace.