It has become a habitual practice to ask premarital couples that I work with “Why do you want to get married?” I do not wish to assume I know your reason, and neither should you. As it turns out, it is a very important question. It is important not for me to hear their answers, although the information would be useful for me to know how I should guide them, as much as it is for them to know what motivates them. The answer to this question reveals their expectation of the marriage.
The common answers I get from couples are “I want to start a family,” “I want to have someone to do things with,” and “I want to have someone to grow old with.” Answers like these are within the ‘normal’ range. They reflect the dreams and aspirations you have for your future life together.
There was a couple that I was helping many years ago who I will not forget. In particular, I will not forget the fiancé’s answer to the question. When asked “Why do you want to get married,” he said (I am paraphrasing): “I’ve got a degree. I’ve started my career. The next thing to do, naturally, is to get married.” I also remember the look of his fiancee’s face. It wasn’t the kind of answer that any girl would expect or liked to hear. As a father of two daughters, I would not approve of my daughter marrying a man who answers in this manner.
When the man Alice (not her real name) met on the Internet told her that he had been “feeling empty and alone, and needed someone in his life” after his mother’s death five years ago, alarm bells should start going off in her head. But it didn’t. The alarm might have sounded but, in my opinion, it was ignored because this relationship was mutually beneficial to them. He had an emotional void to fill (or so he says) and she, still unmarried at age 43, was hoping for a change in her marital status.
Granted, no one who is entering into marriage is ever perfect. But it would be good for them to be as mature as possible before stepping into it. I have seen too many marriages in which one party acts more like a parent to the other than a spouse because the other has a wounded child inside. People have often referred to their spouse as ‘my other half’ or ‘my better half’. It sounds good and humble, and way to honour our spouses. But, in reality, I hope that your marriage is the coming together of two whole individuals. If you are not whole – perhaps, emotionally or psychologically broken – I suggest that you immediately find the help that you need to be mended.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.