A friend posted a meme on Facebook the other day that I find to be a bit strange in many ways. It was called the Marriage Box, originally written by J. Allan Petersen. It read...
Most people get married believing a myth--that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship. The truth is that marriage, at the start, is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage; love is in people, and people put it into marriage. There is no romance in marriage; people have to infuse it into their marriages. A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising--keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.
Petersen seems to want to follow along with the current declining society in his determination to redefine marriage. Marriage is already far too complicated to redefine in a Facebook meme. As a society, we have already done far too much damage to marriage. Even the legal structure in many countries allows for no-fault divorce, which has destroyed the future of joining together in a union from which we take an oath to never allow ourselves to withdraw from.
Marriage is not a box. It is the process by which two people who love each other and feel romantic about one another, make their relationship public, make it right in the eyes of their God, in a bond that putatively lasts until death separates them. Over the course of time that the relationship exists, a lot occurs. People change in myriad ways, their personality changes, they age, the body changes, and the hair turns grey. And of course the romantic love between them changes, sometime growing and becoming more intense or in today's culture increasingly ending in divorce. No marriage should start with an empty box, which is certainly not a foundation that will hold the marriage together.
You should never start a marriage with an empty box. To do so would of course be a loveless relationship and no one in their right mind would consider marriage with the proper ingredients; Trust, Intimacy, Passion and Commitment.
Of course, trust is a product of intimacy, which is a closeness, connectedness and a bonding between two people. Passion, in the context of marriage, is the deep and encompassing feeling that we have about another person. It is an intense emotion that signifies a compelling enthusiasm or desire for another person. Commitment involves the ability of both individuals to pursue the relationship no matter the physical beauty, economic status, or health of the other person. Unless trust, intimacy, passion and commitment exists in both individuals a marriage would be nonsensical. You cannot put them into a marriage latter, because without these you have no foundation.
There should be love in a marriage. You don't put it in after the honeymoon! There should be romance in a marriage and you shouldn't expect to infuse it later. Without love and romance in a marriage it will prove to be a very rocky road that few will survived.
Together a couple should enter into a marriage, creating a relational bond, moving forward with the miracle of a new life. It requires possession of the traits necessary to fulfill that miracle. Along with a high degree of intensity, with strong impulses toward a successful union, bound together, in spite of the deep, permanent, and often disturbing emotional differences between one another. That is what makes a marriage work.
To have a good marriage you will also need to have the potential for continuous growth, which requires skills, a caring nature, the need for reciprocity, to be giving, and choose to put forth the effort to make the marriage strong, healthy and satisfying for both individuals. The most vital marriages include:
- Knowing that a good marriage requires flexibility and effort to keep it alive.
- The ability to be giving, meeting the emotional needs of each other without keeping score.
- Being open-minded, accepting of the others rights to their beliefs.
- The sharing of thoughts about a great variety of subjects.
- A strong sense of commitment to make the marriage work, despite differences.
- Being sensitive to each other, recognizing their needs, respecting them, being considerate at all times.
- A positive outlook on life, never allowing negativity to come into the marriage.
- Valuing the independence of one another to form their own opinions, make their own decisions and pursue their own goals.
- The need for a vigorous sexual drive, which is profoundly important in marriage.
- Never taking thing for granted, but expressing appreciation for one another and be generous with praise.
- The faith that together they can overcome any crises by working together.
- A willingness to grow, change and work hard on the marriage.
The truth is that marriage, at the start, is never an empty box, but should be quite full of everything that is necessary to maintain the union. You don't get there by starting with an empty box and then attempting to fill it with all that you need. You will need more than an empty box to hold all the things that will make a marriage (or any relationship) strong, healthy, satisfying and enduring. And, you cannot simply assure that the box stays full. If all of the ingredients of such a marriage were to be put into a box it would truly be overflowing and continuously spill out into your life, overwhelming you with all you need and more. Don't cheat yourself by jumping into a relationship with an empty box!