Marriage & the gospel are essentially selfish: they are things we enter into to make ourselves happy — what I’ve missed for so long is that for my marriage to make me happy, I have to strive to make my wife happy. For so long, maybe because of what I thought I saw in the world, I thought that just “being together” should be enough for any person in a relationship. But what you are entering into when you marry is a covenant to try to make the other person fulfilled. Yes, we need it to fulfill ourselves, and that’s a lot of what drives us to it. But the way that marriage fulfills us isn’t by proximity, or even the suddenly allowed physical intimacy. It’s because it gives us the opportunity for a very personal and intense experience of focusing on what can make someone else happy and fulfilled.
Does this mean there is no room for ourselves in a relationship? I ask this thinking of how single persons will react to the ideas in the previous paragraph. Admittedly, partially this is to justify myself. But it is a valid question. Especially for a person who isn’t married. Certainly I do not want to suggest that there is no value in an individual — after all, every soul is precious in the eyes of God. Every soul. There’s a lot of talk of love making one soul out of two, and I think there’s a lot of validity to the conceptualization. But one needs to remember that before the ONE soul is made, there were TWO, COMPLETE souls.
And that’s why I began with saying that these thoughts apply both marriage specifically and the gospel writ large. Personally, I need to work out things pertaining to my marriage, but I think I’m saying very little that can’t be absorbed in that context.
Again I point out that this is a path to personal fulfillment. Christ says “he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” And he also says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The first seems to be about subverting the ego. Losing ourselves in the work. But losing yourself, according to this scripture isn’t about losing identity completely. By focusing away from ourselves, and into the better part, we find out who we really are. Who WE are. The second points out that true love doesn’t focus on ourselves.
We can’t be completely unaware of the irony here. That’s the point of the idea, after all. While we are striving to fulfill the other, the other is, if she’s working on the same, working to fulfill us. We achieve our happiness both through performing service and through the service rendered by the other. The two together are what make the whole. And that is the plan of happiness.