“By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher,” Socrates said. Was this classical Greek philosopher describing himself? Perhaps a modern adaptation would read, “By all means marry. If you get a good partner, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you can get a divorce.”
There is a large body of data that points to the conclusion made by analyst Glenn Stanton that “Lifelong, monogamous marriage matters, and matters deeply in the lives of adults, children, and societies”. He is not saying those in other situations or their children cannot prosper. They just are not as likely too. His data clearly demonstrates the truth of his conclusion. In fact, no other option to marriage even comes close. It is intriguing, however, that the data shows the nearest competitor is singleness, which is superior to cohabitation and divorce in minimizing pain and maximizing general well-being.
For example, the lifetime prevalence of alcoholism within stable marriages is one third that of those who spent their lives cohabitating or experienced more than one divorce or separation. Just as a married person is less likely to find the answer to their problem in a bottle, so they are less likely to seek escape from their problems by taking their own life. Those who have been divorced are three times more likely to escape from a problem filled life in that way. Cohabitating couples are more than twice as likely over a lifetime, of suffering from any mental illness than those in a legal marriage.
Men and women are not just flesh and blood; they are spiritual beings, also. Jesus was referring to more than the physical when he said, “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh….’ What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Every human is body, mind, AND spirit. That is no surprise to God who knits each person together in the womb. “Scores of books have been written that offer guidance for building the marriage of your dreams. But what if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy…but holy? And what if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?”, asks the back cover of Gary Thomas’s book “Sacred Marriage”.
Whether for our relationship with our spouse or our God, marriage matters. It teaches us to love and respect others. It fosters good communication and exposes our sin. Fortunately, it teaches forgiveness and perseverance as well. From every angle the message is the same. Marriage matters.