Note: This is a guest post from Regi Campbell.
Marriage can feel pretty easy when you are feeling the love.
When both of you are feeling the love, it seems effortless. But when you don’t feel it, marriage feels much different.
It feels like a trap. A cage.
We think, “I’m stuck in here with a woman I don’t love and who obviously doesn’t love me back. But I can’t get out. This marriage is holding us both back from being truly happy!”
Let’s reframe that thinking.
What if that “trap” or “cage” is actually there to protect you?
Let me explain.
If you were all by yourself in dark water in the middle of the ocean and there were all sorts of nocturnal hunters out in the water – who knows what size sharks are out looking for fresh meat – you would probably trade just about anything to be in a cage.
In fact, I bet you would gladly lock yourself inside. Right?
Have you ever considered the possibility that maybe this is why the institution of marriage exists? Maybe it is here to protect us from the dangers and temptations we are drawn to…things that just might kill us if we were left alone to our own devices.
What does that mean and why should we value or protect institutions?
Institutions are a way of sustaining important activities over time (government, education, etc).
Let’s say there is a good-hearted doctor who takes care of everyone in his community. When people are sick, he goes to their homes and treats them. When they get really sick, he brings them to his house and looks after them until they get better or die.
What happens when the doctor dies? Or when his house burns down? The whole community is out of luck.
So we created an institution to sustain the healthcare we all need. The good-hearted doctor is still at the heart of it, but now he’s connected to a hospital – an institution – a system that will carry on when he doesn’t feel like being good-hearted, or when he’s sick himself, or when he is no longer around.
Marriage is similar.
It is a system that carries two people through even when they don’t feel love for each other.
Love initiates marriage. But marriage sustains love.
Americans fight for institutions that give us what we want. We’ll tax ourselves to build hospitals, we will bail out banks and companies (and government).
But marriage is an institution that is in trouble because it gives us what we need, but sometimes it’s just not what we want. And just like the motto of “think global, but act local,” our first priority is to honor, respect and protect our own marriages.
We’re in a culture where parents do everything to give their kids an advantage, but forget the most valuable thing we can bestow upon our children is a happy, healthy marriage between Mom and Dad.
So next time you’re tempted to give up or blow up or do something mean to hurt her back, remember that marriage was created and you were placed in yours for your benefit.
Probably for your protection. And the next time someone talks to you about getting a divorce, remember, the institution of marriage will only be sustained if people start to sacrifice a little selfishness for the good of their families, society and the next generation.
To think longer term, to stay committed even when they don’t feel like it, and to trust God for the love and protection He provides through marriage.
Question: Are you actively working to protect your marriage?
Share what you are doing to intentionally build a better marriage!
Regi Campbell is an experienced investor and entrepreneur, but first and foremost a husband to his wife of 44 years, Miriam, and father to two married children (grandfather of 5). He mentors eight young men each year through a program called “Radical Mentoring” that he began in 2000. His most recent book, What Radical Husbands Do, is now available at www.radicalhusbands.com.