Marriage isn't for you. Nup. It's for both of you.
Apparently Seth Adam Smith's viral blog post in which he argues that 'marriage isn't for him' has had over 4 million hits (and the usual cacophony of several thousand excited and argumentative comments below it).
Smith came to a realisation in his marriage that he needed to get away from a 'Walmart', get-rid-of-it-if-you-don't-like-it mentality towards his relationship and instead begin thinking of his marriage as being not about him and instead all about her.
Which is nice in lots of ways. And please don't hear me say that I think anyone should treat their marriages as disposable or find it easy to walk out on a relationship. Nor do I think it's a bad thing to serve your spouse or love them sacrificially either. Of course not!
It's just that sometimes we can get a little confused about where sacrificial 'love' ends and enabling or abuse begins.
The reality is that a marriage has two people in it. And I don't think that anyone will disagree with me when I say that pretty much 100 per cent of marriages include two people in them who are flawed, broken, hurt, often dysfunctional and yes, let's say it, sinful.
So it's going to be a given that person X in the marriage is going to hurt person Y in the marriage at some point. And vice versa.
A simplistic view of sacrificial love could say that you just keep on being nice, being generous, being sweet, no matter what your spouse does. Love will win the day! Don't worry about your hurt. Just give, give, give.
The problem comes when the spouse, for whatever reason, takes and takes and takes. And never gives back. Because a relationship cannot live on the kindness that only one person gives, any more than a plane can fly long-term using only one of its engines.
Real, genuine love cares about the other person at the same time as it cares about you. It's in the Greatest Commandment, folks. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
A marriage where one person forgets about him or herself and focuses entirely on the other person is not going to be that healthy.
It will probably have one or more of these issues in it: enmeshment, co-dependence, power struggles, and even possibly abuse.
Every marriage (and every relationship for that matter) needs a balance of love and truth. Spouses need permission to say to each other things like this:
"I love you, and right now I'm hurt by the way you are speaking to me. I would like it if you could use a softer tone."
"I love you. When you nag me to do that job, I feel irritated. Truthfully? I don't really want to do it. Can we get someone in? Or live without it?"
If you're in a marriage, you're one person in a partnership of two. Both of you need space, love, respect and honesty. Both of you need to find solutions to problems. Both of you need to honour each other, and yourselves.
So, no, marriage isn't for you. But it's not for the other one either. It's for both of you.