Recently, I wrote a post on Boundless in which I compared marriage to being a new homeowner and reminded single readers that marriage is a process that involves a lot of hard work. I still stand by everything I said, but some of our readers responded and made a good point: Married Christians have a nasty habit of providing endless know-it-all warnings about the various reasons marriage is going to be way harder than single folks can imagine. One reader commented that, actually, it’s easy for her to imagine all the things that could go wrong with marriage; she preferred to get some encouragement about some of the things that make marriage desirable.
To those readers who are in need of encouragement about why marriage can be such a good thing, I have this to say: You have given me a very easy assignment. Here are five things I love about marriage, and I pray you’ll have them all when God brings your future spouse into your life.
- Being known: Before getting married, my parents and close friends knew me well, but nobody knows me like my wife knows me. She not only knows my weaknesses and insecurities, she knows my hidden strengths, the way I love my kids, the kinds of stories that get me choked up, and the list goes on. I can’t hide from her, and I don’t want to. She’s the closest human relationship I have to my relationship with God, from whom I can hide absolutely nothing. That’s terrifying and freeing at the same time, but either way, it raises the reality stakes in my life and helps me face the real me every day.
- Having a permanent friend: Although I’m blessed to have a loyal group of friends, each of those friendships goes through phases where we’re not as close as we’d like. Maybe we’ve moved or we’re preoccupied with our jobs or families. But with my wife, I have a permanent friend — we’re always making a point to see each other, eat dinner together, talk on the phone, do work together, and take care of each other. For us, distance between us isn’t an option, and we don’t want it to be.
- Sexual intimacy: When my friend Jeremiah got married a few years ago, I asked him if it was great to be able to have sex whenever he wanted (he and his wife waited until they got married). He said something I’ve never forgotten: “The sex is great, but the best part is that there’s a freedom that comes with it. It’s like I can just be a boy again and walk free from all the sexual angst that haunted me when I was single. All of my desires can be innocent and right and fun again.” He’s right. Marital sex is like an express pass back to the Garden of Eden where we don’t have to be ashamed of our nakedness, and the top item on the agenda can be the best kind of God-ordained playfulness.
- Raising kids together: I loved my wife before we had children, and I loved her even more afterward. She immediately turned into this woman I did not know — a protector, a nurturer, a wife who wanted her husband to lead in the home more than ever. As I’ve grown into the role of a father, we’ve become teammates in ways we never had to before children. We take that teamwork very seriously because the stakes are so high — I mean, we’re shaping the lives of the next generation in our family. So we pray about it together, we come up with strategies, and we coach each other. And in the end, it leads to us becoming even better friends.
- Growing in Christ: When I married Raquel, I not only got closer to another human being, I got closer to the Lord. I couldn’t help it. She was so insistent on praying together, reading Scripture together, and practicing spiritual disciplines. Quite frankly, I was uncomfortable with all her suggestions for spiritual growth. I tend to be a little more loosey-goosey with the way I walk out my faith. But she knew I was a better man than that, and to this day, she still successfully encourages me to engage with God in ways I never would have if I’d remained single.
So, yeah, I’m happily married, and I wouldn’t ever want to go back to the life I had before Raquel and my kids. But that life was valuable, because as I was waiting for her, God was shaping me into the man who would be her husband.
That’s why I want to encourage you to remain faithful to the Lord as you wait for the spouse He may one day provide. Sure, it’s going to be hard work when you two come together; but if God is the one who’s writing your love story, then believe me, there are a lot of reasons it will be worth it.
This post originally appeared at Boundless.org.