The disciples’ response to Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce is very interesting. They said,
If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry. (10)
Put another way, “Man, if marriage is really supposed to be for life, it’s better to stay single. Better to be single, than stuck in a miserable marriage.”
I agree with that in part. Certainly it is better to be single than to be stuck in a miserable marriage. But Jesus pointed out that not everyone is wired that way. He said,
Not everyone can accept this word (that it’s better to be single), but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others — and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it. (11-12)
In short, it takes a certain kind of person who can be content being single. He said some are born that way (perhaps they have some physical defect that would make marriage a hardship), some are made that way by others (he was talking about being physically made a eunuch which is basically unheard of nowadays, but I think you could include people that have been emotionally scarred in such a way that they have no desire to get married), and others choose to stay single so that they might serve God better (as the apostle Paul did).
And Jesus says that if you can accept being single, that’s fine.
But the sad thing about the way the disciples thought, and many people do today, for that matter, is that they assume that a lifelong marriage is ultimately destined to become a ball and chain. And it is for that reason that some are unwilling to commit themselves to another in marriage. But in doing so, they miss out on the lifelong joy of marriage that God intended for us.
Marriage can be a joy. It doesn’t have to be a miserable ball and chain. But the key comes down to what you and your spouse decide from the very beginning of your relationship. Will you commit yourself to maintaining a soft heart to God first, and to your spouse second?
If you maintain a soft heart to God, you will find God often intervening in your fights and bringing peace. Usually by him telling you or your spouse, “Let it go. Give in.” More, he starts showing you how to improve your marriage and make it stronger. He’ll show you your spouse’s needs and how to meet them. And he’ll show you how to love them better.
If you maintain a soft heart to your spouse, you start to understand them better. What makes them tick. What annoys them. What brings them joy. And if you commit yourself to understanding these things, to go out of your way, not only to avoid annoying them, but also to bringing them joy, you will often find themselves reciprocating. And instead of a miserable marriage, you’ll find a fulfilling one in which you truly become one.
How do you see marriage? As a ball and chain? Or as the joy that God intended it to be?