I don’t know of many married couples who could accurately define to me what their purpose is for their marriage on the spot. Some might say something quick to just give an answer. Some may shrug their shoulders and mumble, “I dunno.”
Does anyone else think it is weird that we don't talk about this question? No? Just me? Okay then….
Well, I will share my thoughts about it anyways.
Here is the thing about our choices. If we don’t have a clear understanding of our goals and intentions, then we will make decisions all willy-nilly with no direction. And when that happens, we end up taking paths that lead us to a destination we never wanted to end up at. Infidelity. Divorce. Broken families. Hurt children.
Instead, we need to have intentionality around our interactions with our spouse. Having a clear purpose of what you want your marriage to accomplish is key.
So, how do you figure out what the purpose of YOUR marriage is? Here are three easy steps to follow:
1. Do a little reading/listening.
2. Write down your ideas.
3. Talk with your spouse.
Step 1: Do a little reading and/or listening.
Google “the purpose of marriage” and you will find TONS of information. Pay attention to the website you look into. Look for websites of agencies you may have heard of before, such as Focus on the Family or Family Life. When you look into those kinds of websites, the information describing the purpose of marriage will be more in line with your own personal values, especially if you are of the Christian faith.
Got a favorite podcast about relationships? Look into their past episodes and see if there are any that discuss the purpose or meaning of marriage. Listen to them while you are on a run or cleaning!
See what stands out to you while you are hearing what others have to say about the purpose of marriage. Is there something that resonates with your personal values? Did something hit you deep down into your soul? Or did it bore you or speak against your values?
If you are a Christian, listen or read about what the Bible has to say about marriage. There are some golden nuggets in this big ol' book that can really help you get a firm grasp on what the purpose of marriage is for you, what God has to say about your marriage.
2. Write down your ideas.
Write. It. Down.
Don’t just think it in your head. It won’t be as effective. Trust me.
Write down what spoke to you that you read about or heard. Write down a little more if it gave you a specific insight or brought another thought to your mind.
You don’t have to write an essay. It doesn’t even need to be in paragraph format. Mine was bullet points on a yellow legal pad.
And just because you write it down doesn’t mean it is the final product. This is just brainstorming. Think fourth grade writing where you did the three thought bubbles with points you wanted to address. That idea.
Look it over once you write it all down, and then see if there is something that stands out brighter than the others, calling to your heart. Or even ones that you are like, “Meh.” Cross out the ones that don't speak to the purpose of marriage you are wanting. Circle the ones that are.
3. Talk with your spouse.
Share your ideas with each other. Talk about what resonates with both of you. Talk about the ones that you really feel strongly against.
The purpose of this talk is not to come to an agreement on what the purpose is for your marriage together. This talk is to get some feedback, hear the thoughts of someone who knows you better than the bloggers and podcasters out there.
And it is okay if you both don't have the exact same definition.
Wait, let me say that again for the folks in the back....
IT IS ABSOLUTELY OKAY IF YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE HAVE DEFINED DIFFERENT PURPOSES FOR YOUR MARRIAGE.
My spouse and I have different definitions of what we believe the purpose of our marriage is. They are not opposing, just different.
Different definitions could be:
- "I believe the purpose of our marriage is to spend time serving our community together."
- "I believe the purpose of our marriage is to spend quality time together alone without distractions so we can know one another the best at all times."
These may seem opposing, but they aren't because you can do both. In fact, you both should be spending time alone staying connected, and spending time connected in your community. Both of those lead to a healthy marriage.
Opposing would look like:
- "I believe the purpose of our marriage is to give birth to and raise healthy children."
- "I believe the purpose of our marriage is to never have children of any kind and only be the two of us for the rest of our lives."
See the difference?
In the second set of responses, both cannot exist together. You cannot give birth to children and never have children at the same time.
If you find that both of you have opposing purposes for your marriage, I highly suggest looking into counseling of some kind. Either with a licensed marriage counselor, or a mentor, if you are a Christian couple, with the pastor of your church, to get guidance around what to do.
The point of this exercise is to help both of you become more intentional about your interactions with your spouse. To be more focused on what you want your marriage to become.
Also, it is to help you better understand your spouse and their interactions with you. If you feel the purpose of your marriage is to serve your community, and your spouse is asking for a night in alone with you, you can recognize that you are both speaking to your own purpose and then work together to find solutions.
In John chapter 15, Jesus talks about being the True Vine, and how we are the branches. He talks about pruning the branches to produce good fruit. If you don’t know anything about viticulture (the cultivation of grapevines), believe me when I say that grape vines HAVE to be pruned well, or else there will be little to no fruit.
Now, Jesus may have been talking about us as spiritual beings, but it is applicable to all areas of life. This is what you will be doing after you define the purpose of your marriage. You can take control over your actions. You can stop doing the things in your marriage that are actually creating a lack of fulfillment.
And you can start working towards finding fulfillment in your marriage together. Intentionally.
Take care, friends!
Alisha Sweyd, LMFT