elderly coupleI recently read a post by Seth Adam Smith who, after a year and a half of marriage, has declared that marriage is not for you. He says it's not something you do to make yourself happy. This declaration struck me as odd because, at least in some part, marriage is for you. When you marry someone, you are not doing him or her a favor to your own detriment, and if that’s what you think, then you probably shouldn’t be getting married to that person or maybe anyone, for that matter.

Smith says his father shared this piece of wisdom with him when he was having second thoughts about getting married:

Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.

While I believe that we marry the person who we want to spend the rest of our lives with -- waking up to, kissing good night, raising children, loving and weathering the hard times with -- I believe we choose for us. We choose someone who will make us happy, most of the time.

The person we can tolerate when we can’t tolerate anyone else. I have expectations of my marriage. I expect unconditional love always; at my best and at my worst. I expect a soft place to land when I fall. I expect a shoulder to cry on. Arms to hold me when the pain of the world is too heavy to bear. I expect someone to listen when I need to talk and understand when I make no sense. I expect everything and I give absolutely everything in return.

Smith goes on to say that he has realized that,

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?"

I don’t know if I agree that true love is never about you; it has to be sometimes because if you don’t care about your own needs and wants, how is anyone else supposed to?

Love is not about keeping track of who does what for whom, who is giving and who is receiving. Marriage is about loving. Picking up the slack when your partner needs you to. It’s about lifting your partner up with your words and actions. It’s giving completely and knowing that you are receiving everything you ever need when you need it.

Marriage is about never being alone; in your joy or your misery. I married my husband because he made me a better person, made my life better. With him in it, my life is a better version of what it would have been with anyone else and I’d like to think his is too.

We both got a partner whom we love and they love us back unconditionally. It is a partnership in life, parenthood, and a best friend. It's not about marrying the person who just benefits you the most. It’s the privilege of spending your life loving someone who loves you back just as hard.

What do you think the goal of marriage should be?


Image via Candida Performa/Flickr