Time Article On Marriage



“Time Article On Marriage”

By Michael Misja, Ph.D.


Time Magazine tells us how to stay married.


In our era of great gender, moral, and marital confusion, the June 13 issue of Time magazine came out with a stunning revelation: staying married leads to maximum lifetime satisfaction and benefit.  Why do I say it is a stunning revelation?  Because a secular magazine that has been a champion of the new morality cannot avoid an ancient truth: monogamous, lifelong marriage is good.  It is good for men, women, children, and culture.


I found so much I liked in the article, “How to Stay Married” written by Belinda Luscombe.  Like many other marriage counselors who will read Luscombe’s overview of research and recognized marriage gurus, her views validate my understanding of how long term marriages thrive.  She writes that people need to “drop the idea of finding a soul mate.”  Rather, long term marriages are anchored by hard work, friendship, and a commitment to keep the relationship alive.


Marriages that thrive and grow are ones where divorce is not an option.  Where the ups and downs of relationship are accepted as the norm.  Where a way is found a way to love someone you don’t always like. Many people believe they have “missed it” because the person they married isn’t their soul mate.  So they feel justified in moving out of their marriage because they “deserve” to find the mythical soul mate.  I believe that any two people who are committed to finding a way to have a meaningful marriage can “craft” a great marriage.  The article emphasizes that couples in good marriages practice relational disciplines while bad marriages lack the dedication to hard work within the marriage.


Luscombe’s article says that marriage can be difficult, but for many the long term satisfaction is the benefit of the commitment to work through the hard times.  The story quotes Karl Pillemer who did in-depth research on 700 elderly people.  He wrote that all his participants stated that though marriage is very hard, their long term marriage was the best thing in their lives. Benefits include better health, wealth, better mental health and more life satisfaction.  Oh yes, and better sex.  She wrote that couples often have great sexual satisfaction later in their marriage as well.  John Gottman is quoted as saying his “research is starting to reveal that in later life, your relationship becomes very much like it was during courtship”.


Divorce is still common and harmful.  More men over 65 are divorced than are widowed.  Despite a persistent belief that kids will be able to adjust after a divorce, Luscombe writes that the long term consequences of divorce on children are severe.  She also says the statistics on second marriages are dismal.  The divorce rates sores in second marriages, especially among previously divorced men.  The article discusses the many threats to marriage, and the ease at which a lifelong commitment to another person can be terminated.


The article concludes with advice to those seeking lifelong marital satisfaction: “choose well”.   I agree.  Find someone who holds your values, who is committed to growth, and who is willing to engage deeply into the requirements, disciplines, and beauty of marriage.


Yet a careful look at Luscombe’s reveals a world view that celebrates personal benefit as the greatest good.  What follows is that marriage is good because it provides a person with an opportunity for maximum life satisfaction.  What is missing in her understanding is an eternal purpose to marriage.


Is marriage something that has evolved in culture as the best way to maintain societal stability?  If so, another article may appear in “Time” that proposes “better” ways for society to prosper that negate the necessity of marriage.


I believe that the value of marriage transcends personal satisfaction.  In “Thriving Despite a Difficult Marriage”, my brother Chuck Misja and I wrote:


“What you need is a deeply held conviction or belief in the value of marriage that compels marital allegiance without requiring happiness.  A thriving spouse firmly believes in what he or she has committed himself or herself to.  God has designed marriage to represent the value of an eternal relationship.  Your marriage is intended to be a picture of Christ’s marriage to his bride, the church…what is needed is … the passion of a broken hearted lover who refuses to abandon a belief in the value of marriage or his or her spouse. This conviction results in a determination to honor God and marriage … If you believe in the value of marriage and the idea that it’s bigger than you, then you will understand that your marriage doesn’t exist to meet your needs or requirements…Your belief in marriage is will lead you to ask God to stretch you into the sort of person who can do what it asks of you.”  (195-197)


A lifelong, thriving marriage holds the value that marriage is greater than two individuals.  God is deeply, mystically involved in every aspect of marriage, from the mundane tasks in the house and yard to the erotic passion in the bedroom.  He uses marriage to demonstrate the sacrifice love requires and the joy of intimacy, of oneness. In marriage, He develops the desire with the partners for the eternal union that He offers to those who love Him.


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