As I was driving home from work one day last week, I had a simple revelation. It wasn’t one of those epic “Ah-ha!” moments, but more of a gentile reminder. The revelation was that marriage is important. I know this seems like an obvious declaration, but I found myself wondering why marriage is important. Other than some various tax breaks that come with marriage and family, there is often an emotional and psychological benefit to it. I do not wish to be insensitive to those that might have a troubled marriage, have been through a divorce, or those that simply have no desire to get married. This is not a hit piece against divorce, celibacy, or promiscuity; this is a recognition of a simple truth regarding marriage and to an extent, family.
As I was driving, I found my mind drifting and time traveling to the weekend, flashing forward to walking through the front door of my house at (according to my GPS) 5:56pm. What would await me: an exhausted woman at her wits end? My two boys arguing over a video game? A warm plate of food, boys that say, “Yes sir,” and “Thank you, father,” and a doting wife ready to cater to my every need?
It goes without saying that these things did not await me. Sometimes it’s a vague combination of these things, but it’s never one of these things exclusively. More often than not, I come home to a wife that is tired from being one of the world’s greatest multi-taskers and kids that had a fine day at school but are wound up and either ready to either playfully wrestle or painfully fist fight. Dinner will be there eventually, as long as it isn’t one of the nights filled with some kind of extra-curricular family activity that I likely do not want to go to for various reasons. When I get home from work, I am often more mentally tired than physically tired, but these are basically the same thing. My family requires my attention and sometimes it is hard for me to give it to them. As long as I can have a few minutes to relax, unpack, and de-compartmentalize my brain, I am usually good to go.
And there it is, the grand revelation. Marriage gives me something to look forward to and something to work on. Marriage could easily be the ultimate self-esteem builder for me, because it essentially requires the esteeming of others first. If I am constantly asking myself, “What can I get out of my marriage,” and constantly seeking self-gratification, I will struggle. If I set my mind on serving, loving, caring, teaching, and pleasing the other, I will find (and have found) happiness.
It seems so contradictory to the instincts, but it’s the same reason a man that remains monogamous despite having an unusually high sex drive should be praised, and the same reason a woman that longs for deep intimacy but can still find the time to enjoy a house full of fart jokes and testosterone, should be cherished. The instinct of the man with a high sex drive is to seek out sex, and the instinct of a woman that desires intimacy is to seek out intimacy. A marriage often requires that the individual set aside the self, even if momentarily, for the betterment of the other. If the self consistently and fairly focuses on the other, the needs of each will largely be met. The man should recognize that the woman requires intimacy, and the woman should recognize that the man desires a healthy sex life. Of course, there are seasons where roles might shift and no two marriages are typically the same. Marriages have peaks and valleys and are subject to many factors outside of the home. I understand these roles or scenarios are generalities, but there has to be some truth to marriage being about servitude and sacrifice. These two words, servitude and sacrifice, often have a negative connotation attached to them, but they can be wonderfully applied to a marriage as long as both parties are communicating and are being honest about the individual needs therein.
So rather than dreading that I will probably come home to some chaos after a long day at work, maybe I should keep it mind that I have the privilege of coming home to some chaos after a long day at work. It will give an opportunity to be more honest about my needs while focusing on serving those that I share my life with. Even if I don’t feel like wrestling, I’ll kick my shoes off and do a Hulk Hogan-style leg drop on my older son. Marriage can be more than just be a battlefield of toys and arguments over the last slice of pizza, and it likely requires both sensitive communication, raw honesty, and a little rough-housing along the way.