Weddings and marriages supply the stuff dreams are made of, despite the disappointment many face when their marriage falls short of the ideal. A glance at statistics on DivorceMag.com reveals that nearly 46 percent of marriages in the US end in divorce. That low success rate may turn people to matchmaking organizations to help them find suitable mates.
Yet in the end, professional matchmakers don't hold the key to perfect matrimony. They may assess one's heritage, socioeconomic status, even education and interests, but can they possibly appraise an entire individual? Can they begin to understand how two people will grow and develop separately and jointly? Human estimates of prospective unions, however successfully done, limit people from the outset. No one – not even those directly involved – can answer all of the particulars that contribute to success. They can't answer basic questions such as, Why marry? Should I marry? Who am I? Who am I in relation to another? And, What does marriage mean? To find happiness, we each must answer these questions without cultural or family pressures.
This task is easier when one embraces his or her completeness as a child of God rather than leans on another for happiness or to round out one's self. Conversely, unresolved issues regarding identity might lead one to marry for wrong reasons. Not having a clear sense of one's qualities, aspirations, and values can play out in choosing a mate with little regard for those attributes. It does not fulfill Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy's hope that marriage should "improve the human species, becoming a barrier against vice, a protection to woman, strength to man, and a centre for the affections" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 60).
To elevate such an important decision, many have found God, the divine Principle of the universe, to be the supreme decisionmaker. This same Principle – the Principle of Love – has given us the tools for entering and maintaining successful love-filled marriages. It can also help us resist the pressure to marry when it won't best promote our happiness. Whether brought together by friends or family, by a matchmaker or a chance meeting, God-directed relationships provide room for both parties to grow in nurturing and secure environments.
In the light of the upturn in arranged marriages as explored in today's Monitor, Jesus' message resonates: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mark 10:9). A God-impelled marriage has staying power. Something wonderful occurs when God's hand governs lives. People find an unshakable peace even during hard times. They grow in ways unimagined. They learn what constitutes a kindred spirit. And they feel satisfied with a life filled with love.
This concept of marriage demands something of God and of those involved. God orders a universe of ideas in perfect harmony, perfect pitch, perfect rhythm, and has the power, presence, and will to conjoin these ideas in perfect accord. We have the task of not putting asunder what God has joined together – and not joining together what God won't! These two sides of the same coin involve putting aside human willfulness that operates contrary to God's plan. Sadly, many failed marriages have sprung from one partner strong-arming or manipulating another. In other cases, relationships are put asunder through bickering, blame, and jealousy.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "Marriage is susceptible of many definitions. It sometimes presents the most wretched condition of human existence. To be normal, it must be a union of the affections that tends to lift mortals higher" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 52). Grasping one's spiritual identity opens the door to be happily single or married. It reveals the deepest need, brings true affection, and informs one of a satisfaction found only in relation to God. Perhaps the simple words from Science and Health, that "marriage should signify a union of hearts" (p. 64), define marriage. Only such a union offers a platform to fully appreciate another's spiritual identity along with our own.