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Behind Our Culture’s Marriage Obsession

Behind Our Culture’s Marriage Obsession

There’s been a lot of talk about marriage lately—from reality TV shows like The Bachelor and Couples Therapy, to posts gone viral like “Marriage Isn’t For You.” From the secular world to the Christian subculture, one thing is certain: we love to think about, to dream about and to talk about marriage, and we almost always have something to say.

But have you ever stepped back to wonder what is it with our marriage obsession? It’s a conversation that stirs our hope and touches our hearts in a deep way. It’s a topic that unites people from many different cultures, beliefs and perspectives. But why is it that we’re so quick to jump into the conversation about marriage—even though the realities of marriage seem to be cracking and fading all around us? When all the smoke and lights of opinions and ideas begin to fade away, we’re left with the jolting statistics that reveal to us that it’s far easier to “like” a good marriage article than it is to actually live out a good marriage.

Yet, even within the brokenness of marriages all around us and the fear of commitment within us, why is it that our culture continues to get caught up in this ongoing conversation? Through my work as a professional counselor—and in the day-to-day needs I see within myself—I’m convinced that the topic of marriage is actually a reflection of needs far deeper than we realize. As I step back to assess the way marriage is talked about within our society, I wonder if our obsession with marriage is actually rooted in some majorly significant things:

1. Marriage is a Reflection of Our Desire for Love

One reason we love to talk about marriage is because we’re in love with the idea of love. Deep inside each one of us is a need for companionship and belonging; a need for connection and someone to call us their own. We long to be noticed, to be counted worthy and deemed valuable. And so we look into the eyes of those around us for that unconditional love we’re craving.

Marriage is a reflection of some of those much deeper needs—and the hope of love unconditional keeps the conversation alive. What we should always keep in mind though, is that the most nourished and life-giving marriages are made up of two people who love to love—more than just to be loved.

2. Marriage is a Reminder of our Need for People

I think we get so caught up in the conversation about marriage because we’re all aware of our need for connection with the world around us. We were made to be together. Our propensity toward community or our lack of it can have a significant impact on how we view, what we expect from, and if whether we idolize marriage.

These conversations we’re having about marriage are an important part of figuring out who we are and what we believe, but they should never be had at the expense of neglecting to talk about other relationships. For us to be healthy, we need to be engaging in a life of community with others as we remember that significant relationships can come from so many places.

3. Marriage is a Glimpse of our Connection with God

It makes sense that we love to talk about marriage. There’s nothing so profound and mysterious as this covenant relationship between a man and a woman—an earthly glimpse of the vast affection of the love of the Heavenly Bridegroom for His Bride.

We love to talk about marriage because we were made to talk about it—in the sense that we were made in the image of a God who designed us to love and be loved. Because far deeper than our need for one another is the reality of our need for so much more, our unquenchable desire for the God who made us to thirst for Him. Whether we’re aware of it, or even acknowledge it, we’re all engaging in this Divine Relationship in some way.

If nothing else, maybe our obsession with marriage should remind us to stop for a moment and consider the truth that St. Augustine so eloquently says, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Marriage is a reminder of our desperate need for the Lover of our Souls.

As we continue in the ongoing and important conversation about marriage within our society, may it be a conversation that isn’t simply loaded with opinions, ideas and beliefs. May it trigger in us the desire to stop, reflect and think about and then seek to find fulfilment as we learn to love one another, to invest in community and to open our hearts to receiving the deep and ferocious love of God.

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