In my most previous article “Is Marriage Necessary?” I listed 3 popular statements men who are in opposition of marriage make. I will list them here again.
- If I love her and I’m committed to her there should be no need for some big ceremony to prove that. Isn’t my faithfulness and consistency good enough?
- I’ve seen so many wonderful couples have a great relationship and then after they marry, they end up getting divorced. Probably if they didn’t marry, they would have been fine.
- Marriage is just a piece of paper it shouldn’t make a difference.
Now to address the statements above.
My answer to this is yes, my brother, your faithfulness and consistency is enough. Ceremony or no ceremony those are very important to the sustenance of your relationship, however, you must recognize that the wedding ceremony is really for the community. The community uses the wedding ceremony to identify a couple as more than just boyfriend and girlfriend.
That identification allows the community to have certain expectations of the couple and be more understanding of the couple exhibiting certain behaviours for example “living together” vs. “shacking up”.
Keep in mind that so many people have been left heart broken by inconsistencies in the feelings and behaviours of their partner that without the wedding ceremony the community finds it very difficult to take your commitment seriously. So, while you may be quite fine with your commitment to your woman, she and the community won’t take you seriously until you “put a ring on it”.
There are a couple reasons for this happening
- An increase in expectations and entitlement.
When a couple is in the dating/courtship phase both tend to not expect too much of the other person because they believe if they push too hard the other person may get fed up and leave, so every act of generosity is met with great gratitude. After the ceremony people start to feel entitled and the level of respect for boundaries and autonomy that was there before diminishes resulting in more frequent arguments as one or both people are not doing what they are “supposed to do” as a husband or wife. To minimize the effect of expectations and entitlement we must take on the attitude of Christ as Paul instructs us in Philippians Chapter 2, Verses 1-11
- Living with a person you didn’t live with before can take some getting used to, their way of doing things may be different than yours, and so, much patience and grace will need to be extended to your spouse and from your spouse to you as you both adjust to living with each other. Uncommunicated expectations can lead to frustration and resentment that can drive a wedge in between you and your spouse. Apply what Paul says in Ephesians Chapter 4, Verses 2-3 “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”
- An increased pressure on the relationship from the community. Like response #1 the increased expectations of the community may cause the relationship to fail as well, mistakes made by either husband or wife may be blown out of proportion by a step mother who wants to protect her daughter or son and so gives advice that is not necessarily helpful to the relationship. Married couples need to as best as possible keep their issues away from friends and family that may be biased to one side and pitch one partner against the other as a result.
When emotions are high, and you believe in your heart of hearts that “you are right” it is difficult and takes much emotional maturity to be objective and seek counsel from only people who can be objective about your marital situation and also want your relationship to work.
Now marriage is not just a piece of paper it is the interweaving of 2 souls forming a bond that is only to be broken by death. In Genesis Chapter 2, Verse 24 the bible describes it as the two becoming one. On a physical level the bible here is speaking about sex, however, the statement also includes the couple coming together as one emotionally, financially, directionally and spiritually. All this can be achieved without the piece of paper, however, in our societies the authorities and the community won’t recognise your marriage as legal without the “piece of paper”.
The legality of your union gives you and your spouse certain rights as it pertains to your property and visitation at the hospital in the case of illness. Also, in some social circles you can’t bring your spouse to an event unless they are your legal husband/wife.
So, if you are truly committed to your woman you might as well go through with the marriage ceremony. I know weddings can be expensive and you don’t really care about other people’s opinions of your relationship status. But your partner would appreciate it and feel a lot more secure in the relationship if you make the move to go through with a marriage ceremony. If you are truly proud and happy to be with your woman your union ought to be celebrated.
Darren Salmon is a 27-year-old young man from Kingston, Jamaica where he read for his Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology at the University of West Indies. He became a follower of Jesus when he was 10 and has since developed a ministry of Christian Poetry for which he has gained a godly reputation. He became a young writer with Christian Today through the recommendation of Stacy-Ann Smith an established and award-winning young writer.