Just a Thought – The Finishing Touch
Did you know that marriage is good for you? There have been many studies conducted by social scientists and scholars on marriage, and it appears that being married helps you, your health, emotional and mental well-being, finances, your children and society.
The Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, published some of its findings about marriage in a paper entitled Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences. The institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of approximately 100 scholars from across the country and across the political spectrum. (So it’s not just a bunch of concerned moms who want their kids to get married!) Below are some of the findings:
1. Cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage.
2. Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers and mother have good relationships with their children.
3. Married couples seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabitating couples.
4. Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness and disability for both men and women.
I will be celebrating 30 years of marriage on August 28, and since I’ve racked up some big numbers on the marital scoreboard, it got me to thinking about marriage in general and mine in particular. Most scholars point to God’s creation of Eve in the Garden of Eden as the beginning of marriage, citing this Bible quote from Genesis: “’The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’"
|Adam & Eve by Albrecht Durer|
This passage of scripture has always been a bit puzzling to me. I can understand the “not being alone” part. Even if Adam had Dr. Dolittle skills, it would probably still get a bit boring just “chatting to the cheetahs” all the time. But I’ve often wondered why God thought Adam needed a helper? Setting aside the fact that he needed someone with whom to populate the earth, there really wasn’t much Adam needed help with. He didn’t have a house to clean, they weren’t wearing any clothes so there wasn’t any laundry, and as for cooking—we know they had apples.
So what did God think Adam needed help with? Why did God think it was good for people to marry?
I don’t purport to know the mind of God, but from my own experience here is what I think God intended when He sent Adam Eve. It’s what I call the “You’re full of it factor.”
I had several bachelor uncles in my family whom I loved dearly, and who have since passed away. However, one of the things we noticed about them after years of their living alone and not having to answer to a spouse is that whatever they thought was gospel. When you live alone without a wife or husband to tell you, “You’re full of it,” you think that what you think is the absolute truth or the absolute best way to do things.
Dictators notoriously surround themselves with “yes men,” but that is not the case with a healthy marriage. When you are married, your inner “yes” man collides with your spousal cabinet adviser, who says things like. “How in the world did you ever think plaid shorts go with a striped shirt?” Or “No, the on-sale beer does not taste as good as Guinness.” Or “Do you really need another pair of shoes?”
There is a famous line in the movie Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise tells Renee Zellweger, “You complete me.” As much as I like that line, I think marriage is more about “You finish me.”
I suspect if it weren’t for me, I suspect my husband would still be wearing knee-high tube socks and cut-offs, would never know who Hugh Jackman is, and would have never heard of Jane Austin, seen Mama Mia or been to the opera.
When I was a kid, the Sears Christmas catalog always featured scientific gifts like chemistry sets, telescopes and rock tumblers, little machines in which you inserted dull stones and by the machine’s constant rotation and a little added grist, the rocks brushed up against each other, polishing each other’s surfaces.
I think marriage is a rock tumbler. Two people who choose to spend their lives together jump into the rock tumbler that is life. And over years of brushing up against each other’s wills, egos, desires and personalities, you help to polish each other into the shining beautiful people God had in mind. Marriage has not completed us; it has provided the opportunity for us to put the finishing touches on each other’s souls.