We’re told, when we get married, we can accomplish more together than we ever could on our own. That when two become one, marriage is greater than the sum of its parts.
But what they don’t tell you is that marriage isn’t just gain; it also involves loss.
Four years ago today I took a ring and said a vow, and in doing so, I lost something, Perhaps “lost” is the wrong word. I gave something up the day I got married. I gave up the right to myself.
When Josh and I committed ourselves to this covenant, we promised to never, ever leave. We’re in this together. But the thing about being in life together is that you’re no longer in life alone. We spend most of our single years trying to escape this alone-ness, to find – once married – that togetherness presents a challenge all its own.
My Covenant Sacrifice
When I got married, I gave up the right to withhold my time, energy, and attention whenever and however I want. Before, I made decisions based on how they would affect me: My career trajectory, my friendships, my family, my future. But in marriage, I must take another person into consideration. I must remember my covenant, my togetherness. Any self-actualization comes second-place to this.
Covenant requires sacrifice; it always has. And in this covenant of marriage I have sacrificed what would have been accomplished had I never married at all. My life, career, and priorities would look different if I had not walked down the aisle. So when people ask if we accomplish more together than we would have separately, I think of all that could have been, and I answer: “It depends on how you define “more”.”
The More I Accomplish
Josh and I are very different people. If we had never met and married, our paths would probably look nothing alike. But brought together in an unlikely partnership, we are sail and anchor; grace and truth. Separately, we would probably have accomplished more for our careers and maybe for our bank accounts. Separately, we would have more in the eyes of a materialistic, success-hungry world.
But the “more” we have accomplished is not of that nature.
Together, he is more visionary, and I am more steady.
He is more driven, and I am more at rest.
He is more stylish, and I am less vain.
He is more bold, and I am more gentle.
He is called to be strong, and I am safe to be weak.
The “more” accomplished through our marriage may not be what the world recognizes as valuable, but it is what God wanted for our souls.
What I Lost When I Got Married
So I lost something when I got married; I lost some opportunities, some options I could have had. I lost some independence; some chances at advancement. I may even have lost some money. We both did.
But we knew the sacrifice our covenant required, and we counted the gain worth such a loss, because what we were losing could never be equal to the people we’d become together. The loss of freedom and options might seem like a great sacrifice, but if we had never married, these four years would see us as very different people than we are today.
We lost the right to ourselves when we got married. But in giving up ourselves, we found ourselves.
The people we are today would never exist without this covenant; without our Savior. Marriage has sanctified and changed us. It has wrecked us and remade us. The hard edges have softened; the weak things been made strong. Wills have been bent and hearts have been broken, but through this crucible we are being made vessels of God’s glory for one another – and for the world.
Have we accomplished more together than we could have on our own? Perhaps not.
But our togetherness makes us people we would never otherwise have been. In the exchange of independence for interdependence, we find our strengths bolstering the other’s weakness. As we each lead according to our gifts, we lead each other nearer to Christ.
This is the more we offer the world and our children. We offer the people who, without this momentary marriage, we never would have become.