Why is marriage so important?

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Last week was finals week which means this week is chill-out week for our family… and this post should have been up over a week ago.

Almost two weeks ago it was Conference weekend at our house. That means that my family gets together, eats a lot of unhealthy food and listens to uplifting talks from the president and leaders of our church.

A lot of the messages are usually about how to strengthen your family (especially this year! Or am I just noticing everything because I’m a new mom?), and one of the things that really stuck with me this time was a quote that Elder D. Todd Christofferson shared by  writer and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

“Marriage is more than your love for each other. … In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown and not merely the will to rule that makes the king, so it is marriage and not merely your love for each other that joins you together in the sight of God and man. So love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God” 

For a while I’ve been wondering about that. Why is marriage so important? I myself have faith in God and an afterlife and therefore believe that marriage has more eternal consequences. But we don’t all believe in God or belong to a church. So, if we just consider this life, for the average Joe out there, what is so different between being in love and living together, and being tied to each other in matrimony? Is it just a piece of paper?

I think the main reason that this question is even relevant in today’s world is that the way that marriage is perceived has changed.

If we think that marriage is only special because it is pretty, magical and romantic… that it can be undone or abandoned just as easily as breaking up with a girlfriend orboyfriend… then that’s what marriage is. No different than a simple relationship.

To use Bonhoeffer’s metaphor, if the king’s will to rule is only temporary and if he wants the flexibility of taking an out – then maybe the crown isn’t fit for him.

Marriage is only what you make it. If you enter a marriage with the attitude that “we can always get divorced if it gets too hard”, then it is indeed not more than a piece of paper.

But if you however enter a marriage thinking that you’re willing to stand by each other through thick and thin, knowing that your love for each other may suffer along the way – then marriage can be stronger and more beautiful and romantic than you could ever dream. To me, my marriage is so much more than just a romantic relationship. It’s a permanent committed partnership in creating a happy life and overcoming the trials of life.

On second thought, maybe that is really the definition of a true romantic relationship.

I’m grateful to be in a loving marriage, and I’m gonna take it all the way.

I know, I might be preaching to the choir. But I really needed to understand that.

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