The One Person

Everybody, it seems, is writing about what not to do if you want to stay married.

Everything I’ve read so far, which you can find here, here and here, is good advice.

But is staying married a matter of the things you don’t do?

I hope not. Because I am convinced that there is a lot more to a happy marriage than what you don’t do, or, for that matter, just “staying married.”

Did you notice my choice of words? I said “a happy marriage.” The goal of life — and marriage is life — should not be to just stay with someone. Marriage is a relationship that sustains. As such, it is about trust.

There are many levels of trust. When you leave your purse sitting on your desk at work without worry that your co-workers are going to riffle through it, that’s trust. When you drive through an intersection believing that none of the other cars are going to ram into you, that’s trust.

But married trust goes a lot deeper than these superficial trusts that make it possible for millions of people to live together in a society and function independently dependent on one another.

The trust of marriage involves that one flesh thing the Bible talks about. Your husband or wife knows you in a deep-down, all-the-way-through kind of way that precludes simple definitions of trust. You bind yourselves to one another at a spiritual level that goes deeper than any other relationship you will ever have, even and including relationships with your parents and the children you create with one another.

This person, this one person, is your helpmate, friend, lover, love and the steadying hand under your arm when you are shaky. That goes beyond simple lists of don’ts, even though it does include them.

You may not sleep around. You may not hit, disparage, gossip about or abuse your spouse in any way. Because, stupid, you and your spouse are one flesh. What you do to them, you do to yourself. Make them miserable, and you will be miserable, too.

So, rather than give a list of things you shouldn’t do, I want to give you one thing you must do if you want a true marriage that lasts: Love your husband. Love your wife. Cherish them and treat them as if they were your life’s companion; the one person you will share your days with all the days in this life that you have.

Because that’s exactly who they are.

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  • Dale

    Jesus told us to love our neighbor as our self. It is an extremely difficult teaching to actually live out, day after day, month after month, because it requires so much sacrifice. Who but a saint could do it?

    In marriage, we literally become one with “our neighbor. If we can’t love this one person as our self, I don’t see how we can do it with the rest of the world. Perhaps that is one of the functions of marriage which is rarely talked about: to accustom us to sacrifice so we can love everyone, as Jesus commanded us to do. The difficulties of marriage underline just how short we all fail. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

    • Manny

      Hey, that’s brilliant! Very good insight.

  • Danielle

    It is a matter of doing or not doing everything out of love for your marriage. Actively loving.

  • Bill S

    My 37 years of marriage has had its peaks and valleys. If I have had any regrets, they would have to do with my own dishonesty. I will take things to my grave, including the loss of my faith. If I had it to do over again, I would make honesty non-negotiable.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      I’ve only been married for 14 years, and I’d agree with that one! Honesty and communication count far more than love or physical attraction.

      I find it interesting that most of the divorced women I talk to describe their ex as a liar. Oddly enough, same goes for most of the divorced men I talk to.

  • Manny

    I like this very much. Right on. In the course of a marriage over time we remember the don’ts but tend to forget the do. You have made me better today. :)

  • Imelda

    I love this article. One flesh, one heart, one mind – it is so beautiful and daunting all at the same time. Yet, marriage can’t be anything but that way.