That phrase doesn’t exactly make anyone’s heart flutter. To be stuck under any circumstance is not a pleasing prospect. But when we make before God and witnesses the marriage vows to and with our spouses, that’s what we are saying. “You’re stuck with me.” It’s why we must choose well this partner with whom we decide to make a covenant. It’s why we are well advised to look long and hard at the person, and to not rush quickly into the decision to marry.
Lots of people of late, myself included, have felt the need to stand up and defend marriage as we believe God intended it to be, created it to be, because ill advised, vocal, well connected, and well-funded people are choosing to define for the rest of us what marriage is. Yet many of these same folks have not often stood to defend their own marriages from things that would threaten to harm them. Many who have taken the vows of holy matrimony do little on a daily basis to shore up and secure the borders of their own marriage relationships to keep them holy. We cannot publicly defend what we privately ignore.
Parents let children play team sports so that they can learn to be a part of something that is bigger than them. “There is no I in TEAM”, they learn. But so often, that lesson is lost by the time kids grow up and decide to get married. To get married means we join a team of two. We join something bigger than us alone. We sacrifice the needs of one for the team of two. But many of us go into marriage with our own needs at the forefront and expect our marriage partner to spend the rest of their lives striving and succeeding in meeting those needs, and we judge their success or failure as a marriage partner on how well they accomplish that.
Being a part of a team means showing up ready to play, or work, or whatever. You are on time, present in the moment, and ready to join forces with your teammates to meet whatever challenge faces the team. You bring with you your abilities, your attention, and your willingness to sacrifice yourself for the good of the team. Most of us who work are seldom working alone. Generally, we are, in some way or another, a part of a team. Most of us wouldn’t consider letting down the team at work, but we rarely feel the same drive when it come to our teams of two at home.
We give one hundred percent all day at our jobs, or with our volunteering or child rearing, but by the time we come together at the end of the day, there is nothing left for the person for whom we vowed to be there. I love my job, but I did not stand before God and make vows of loyalty to my employer. I love my parents and my children. My friends mean so much to me. None of those have I made spiritual, binding, and solemn vows before God to love, honor, and cherish. Yet if I am not careful, I can stand any and all of them ahead of the person I vowed to have and to hold from the first day I put on that ring.
Have you ever gotten a gift that required you to do something in order to benefit from it? Like a gift card. A gift card is nice, but generally it requires the action of going to shop for something in order to get the benefit of the gift. Marriage is like that. It is a gift, but it requires things from us, and if we aren’t willing to do those things, the gift part goes away and is replaced by the burden it was never supposed to be.
If we really want to stand up for marriage God’s way, we have to begin at home, in our own marriages. We have to make sure we are honoring God by honoring the vows we made and setting the example of what marriage is supposed to be. Matthew is stuck with me, and I need to make sure that’s good news for him.