During past meet-ups with my ‘couple’ friends, the conversation would usually end up with them offering my single friends and I some marital wisdom. From the do’s and don’ts when assessing a potential partner, to rehashing the best bits of their journey to the altar, out of all the advice, there was a nugget that stuck in my mind: “marriage is spelled W-O-R-K”.
It took me about two seconds to catch on that they were using marriage and work as a metaphor to emphasis a crucial point, rather than embarrassingly misspelling the word marriage in front of a small group of people.
"I would have expected that they’d recite a cute cliché like ‘marriage is spelled L-OV-E’ or even using the motto ‘There’s no ‘I’ in team’ within the context of marriage. No, here was some very different advice, one that wasn’t fluffy and comfortable, but blunt, realistic and constructive"
It came as a wakeup call, because I’ve never heard marriage summarised like that before. I would have expected that they’d recite a cute cliché like ‘marriage is spelled L-OV-E’ or even using the motto ‘There’s no ‘I’ in team’ within the context of marriage. No, here was some very different advice, one that wasn’t fluffy and comfortable, but blunt, realistic and constructive.
How many of us view marriage like this? I think most of us like to think that marriage is like a machine that you step into, sit comfortably in, whilst it operates in ‘automatic’ mode – doing the work for you as you put in minimal effort.
But what functioning commitment operates like that? We have to work in our jobs, work to maintain a household and work to keep our friendships and relationships going. So really, why would marriage be any different?
Church culture can sometimes leave the single person’s imagination to glamorise marriage; believing that marriage is ‘the’ destination. Like any partnership, marriage is a team effort that both man and woman should go into armed and ready to cultivate and invest in their commitment. Like the powerful properties of a palm-tree, if we can soberly see marriage for what it is – a promise before God that two people will become one flesh, love and support each other through every season - we can withstand any ‘storm’ that comes our way.
"But marriage is not solely a functional practicality for purpose and partnership. Even though it’s a massive part of it, there are several references to the benefits of this God-ordained union"
In Genesis chapter’s 23 and 24 scripture gives the illustration that marriage is a functional partnership. Through God’s observation, Adam was in need of support and companionship, and consequently Eve was created to be his ‘helper’ when ‘…no suitable helper was found’. But marriage is not solely a functional practicality for purpose and partnership. Even though it’s a massive part of it, there are several references to the benefits of this God-ordained union in books like Songs of Solomon which speaks of the delights of passion, intimacy and romance. Still, the Bible doesn’t paint a passive picture of marriage, but instead an active one.
According to www.focusonthefamily.com – a great website that centres around Christian relationships - in order to view marriage realistically, we must accept that God created marriage as a loyal partnership between one man and one woman. The website also tells us that marriage is also the firmest foundation for building a family, that God designed sexual expression to help married couples build intimacy and that marriage mirrors God's covenant relationship with His people.
Eleasah and Darren Louis, two entrepreneurs from London, travelled to Dominica for their honeymoon and didn’t expect to be caught up in Storm Erika whilst out there. To most newlyweds, this would be a nightmarish situation. However, for the Louis’, this was an opportunity for them to help the local community, even if it was on their honeymoon.
Listen to Eleasah Louis talk about God's purpose, what it was like for her and her husband to survive Storm Erika and set up a campaign to provide fresh water for the community in their first year of marriage, in her interview with Maria Rodrigues on Premier’s Woman to Woman.