Marriages Aren’t Royal with Self on the Throne
I’ve never been a huge fan of royal weddings, particularly those that are held at 4 a.m. Eastern time.
Yet, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the wall-to-wall news coverage accorded the recent nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
That included a cover theme in Time magazine, which devoted eight stories and a plethora of photographs to the event. Kind of made the Super Bowl press corps look like pikers.
Sense of Self
However, it wasn’t Time’s royal coverage that got my attention. It was a feature about summer book reads in the same issue.
Early in an interview with author Rachel Cuse, the magazine noted: “Critics lambasted her as a ‘bad mom’ when she asserted that marriage and motherhood deprive women of any sense of self in her memoirs A Life’s Work (2002) and Aftermath (2012).”
I’m not attacking Cuse, who is quite an accomplished author. Her work includes three book releases the past three years, all novels.
Still, having recently written a profile for Today’s Christian Living on the new president of FamilyLife, I couldn’t help noticing the contrast between the world’s idea of marriage and a Christian’s.
Continuing Marriage Ministry
The appointment of David Robbins to replace founder Dennis Rainey as leader of the 42-year-old marriage ministry generated a farthing of the attention given to the royal couple.
Yet it was significant, and not only because Rainey willingly stepped aside to let the member of a younger generation lead FamilyLife.
It also marked the continuation of a ministry whose ongoing emphasis has been on biblical principles (especially selflessness) as the secret to a good marriage.
FamilyLife’s “Weekends to Remember” marriage retreats have been attended by three million people since 1976.
Some of the comments returned by participants show the value of directing one’s emphasis away from self in marriage:
- “We were ‘seconds’ away from divorce. (This) changed our outlook and softened our hearts.”
- “I came for my wife and realized this was for me.”
- “Helped us remove a ‘mountain’ between that us that was really only a wall.”
A self-centered view of marriage creates another problem: the craving for the “perfect” match. This desire distracts so many couples from the purpose of marriage and cuts too many short.
Robbins labels this “phantom marriage”—the unrealistic images that emerge from Hollywood’s romantic comedies, Instagram comparisons, and social media postings.
“You start worshiping this image of marriage,” Robbins told me. “Even if you’re single there’s this idolatry of marriage. (There’s also) this society undermining of what a covenant marriage is, and the beauty and security that comes from it.
“For FamilyLife and other marriage ministries, the challenge is how do you display the beauty of marriage and the security around it . . .”
Surviving Marital Wars
Given the numerous forces attacking the very concept, I guess it’s amazing that marital unions endure.
The comment in Time wasn’t the first time I’ve heard people lamenting how marriage deprives them of self-determination, self-actualization, and any other glory one cares to attach to self.
To which I say: That’s the point.
Good or bad, no marriage will survive the inevitable conflict, emotional explosions, and tug of wars that accompany one (or both) spouse insisting on their way.
As someone who will celebrate their 40th anniversary early next year, I consider myself somewhat of a trial-by-fire expert. And I can proclaim that it wasn’t until I owned up to my self-centeredness and started to communicate honestly that our marriage moved to more solid footing.
Let’s all pray that Prince Harry’s and Meaghan Markle’s endures. It will go better when each puts self in the background.