Bad, Not Good Enough and Good Reasons to Get Married
Bad Reasons to Get Married
1. Because your mother needs some help around the house: A friend of a friend was giving me a ride to Goa. I had never met him before, but was quite happy to ask him questions about his life, and he seemed quite happy to answer (I’ve become an inquisitive auntie). He was a young man, and from a small town in India. He said, “My mother is getting older and finds it more difficult to get things done around the house. So she told me I should find a bride. I told her, if you need help around the house, we’ll hire a maid, not find me a wife.”
2. Because everyone in your life thinks you should get married: It’s not really your job or responsibility to make sure everyone in your life is perfectly pleased with your life decisions, because guess what, they will never ALL be perfectly pleased. “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
3. Because everyone else your age (and younger) seems to be getting married: Marriage isn’t a trend, or a fashion, or a cool bandwagon to jump on. Yes, you get your great pictures and Facebook likes, but after that you have to actually live with another human being and build a family with them, so ‘everyone else is doing it’ may not keep you going with such a personal and permanent life change.
4. Because you’re lonely: If you’re lonely, you need to make some friends. Share your life with people. Marriage is not the only form of companionship. I found great joy in my women’s households. I love hanging out with my little nieces. I have deep and real conversations with many close friends. But also, I realize the deeper desires can only be met by the Lord. A married lady told me once. “I have a good husband, but I still feel lonely sometimes within my marriage.” Marriage isn’t a cure-all for the deepest longings of our hearts. When we find God, being alone is no longer the worst fate in the world. In fact, the happiest people are the ones who have discovered how to be content on their own. If you haven’t learned to be happy alone, you probably will not know how to be happy with another person.
5. Because you want to have a fun wedding and be the center of attention: Come on, search your heart… is this motive lurking somewhere in there? Weddings are expensive, attention is fleeting, marriage is forever. You may have noticed that weddings seem to be getting more expensive, but more and more of your friends and colleagues seem to have crumbling marriages. Marriage ≠ Weddings.
6. Because you feel like there is something missing: You’ve finished your studies, you are doing well in your career, you have lived an adventurous youth. What’s next? I guess it’s marriage! If you feel a hole in your heart, a desire, a longing for something more, it may not be marriage. it may be God. Go on a retreat. Spend time in silence in nature. Open up your heart to the Bigger, Wilder, Awesome-r Answer. If you keep jumping from one easy answer to the next, your heart may never learn to be still enough to get the real one.
7. Because you want to secure your future and ‘be settled’: Get a secure job if you’re looking for financial security, study further, educate yourself, invest. Marriage is not supposed to be a business arrangement. This is a human being, not a means to an end.
8. Because ‘why not?’: ‘Why not?’ works for decisions with minor consequences like trying out a new restaurant, or going on a blind date. Marriage with a specific person needs a specific ‘Why’!
Good, but Not Good Enough Reasons to Get Married
1. Because you’re in love: Being in love is pretty cool (I can attest from personal experience), but on it’s own, contrary to what Hollywood tells us, is not enough to build a lasting and stable marriage. That’s because ‘being in love’ is not exactly the same as ‘choosing to love’. If you just love the ‘in love’ feelings, and build your entire marriage on those feelings, you’re going to have a hard time when stress increases and feelings wax and wane (as they DO!), when your wife goes through postnatal depression, when your husband loses his job and stops communicating, when the kids make sure you are both constantly sleep-deprived. Then you’re going to wonder if ‘being in love’ was enough.
2. Because you want to love someone other than yourself: That’s actually a pretty good reason, but still not enough for a lifelong marriage. That’s because marriage is supposed to be reciprocal, not just a charity project, or a way for you to feel useful. So though it may be PART of the reason, not enough on its own. Start loving the people around you, look for the ones God is calling you to love. Marriage is not the only way to pour yourself out.
3. Because you want to have sweet babies: Love overflows into new life, and there is a good reason why marriage and babies traditionally go together. Catholics promise to accept children willingly from God when they make their marriage vows. But wanting babies is not a good enough reason to get married, because marriage is about the union of two human beings before it is about the creation of new life. You need to want to marry this person even if you are unable to have children, or if you lose your children, or if it is years before you are able to conceive. A marriage can weaken when either parent gets so wrapped up in the children that they forget their spouse.
Good Reasons to Get Married
1. Because God has called you to marry THIS particular person: You may feel called to marriage, but the real question is ‘Is THIS the person God has called me to give myself to?’ You can only know this through prayer, spending significant amount of time with the person you are considering marrying, and through an interior peace of heart. If you feel sure about that, then you can move forward without the fear of what the future will bring, because you have One unchanging, stable, trustworthy participant in your marriage.
2. Because you are convinced God has a plan for you and your spouse to bring Him to the world: A holy marriage is supposed to be a mission, a sign to the world, not just two people gazing into each other’s eyes forever. When you both understand that marriage is not just about getting your needs met, when you are ready to join hands and start the adventure of loving and bringing light to the world, then the sacrifices of marriage are worth it.
3. Because you both understand that marriage is a project of love: If you both can see love as not some static thing, but an ongoing project, a choice you make each day, something that is created and deepened and shaped by your will, you are ready to say ‘I do’ and mean it.
‘Love is never something ready made, something merely ‘given’ to man and woman, it is always at the same time a ‘task’ which they are set. Love should be seen as something which in a sense never ‘is’ but is always only ‘becoming’, and what it becomes depends upon the contribution of both persons and the depth of their commitment.’ Pope John Paul II, Love and Responsibility
Bishop Robert Barron says it better than I-
“I’m convinced that the deep sacramental and religious meaning of marriage—even within the Church—has been, in recent years, dramatically compromised. We say that marriage is a vocation, but do we mean it?
We can look at human sexual relationships at a number of different levels. Two people can come together purely for physical pleasure, for economic reasons, or for psychological companionship. And we might witness two people coming together out of authentic love. But none of these levels is what the Bible means by marriage.
When I was doing parish work I would invariably ask young couples, “Why do you want to get married in church?” Most would say something like, “Because we love each other.” But I would reply, “Well, that’s no reason to get married in church.” They usually looked stunned, but I meant it.
You come to church to be married before God and his people when you are convinced that your marriage is not, finally, about you; that it is about God and about serving God’s purposes; that it is, as much as the priesthood of a priest, a vocation, a sacred calling.”
Maybe you already married for the wrong reasons. Is it too late? No, because God comes in and transforms at any point that we invite Him in. He always has a Plan B, and way to ‘write straight with crooked lines’. God has a plan for you AND your marriage! Don’t give up hope!
P.S. If at the time you got married in the Church, either you or your spouse did not understand what marriage was, or made the promises without meaning them, or deceived each other in any way, you may have grounds for an annulment. Just FYI.
Authored by Susanna Tuscano
Susanna is an evangelist, teacher, speaker and writer. She served with a Catholic mission organization for nine years. She hosts her own online matchmaking service and blog. She is now married and recently blessed with a baby girl.