What is the true meaning of marriage? Finding a universally applicable, true meaning of marriage may be quite a challenge as there are so many different views and understandings of what marriage is all about.
For example –
The best definition of marriage as given in Wikipedia states that “marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses”.
On the other hand, the Bible verses about marriage define marriage as the Holy Covenant before God.
However, the differences that exist in the definition of a good marriage, occur from culture to culture and even within a culture from person to person. Views and definitions of marriage have also changed significantly over the centuries and decades.
But where did marriage come from? Generally, everyone understands that the meaning of marriage is when two people make a public pledge or commitment to live together and share their lives in a way that is recognized legally, socially and sometimes religiously.
In simple words, the meaning of marriage is nothing but sharing of two lives entails myriads of facets involving bonding of their bodies, souls and spirits in a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual union.
So when it comes to finding the true meaning of marriage, which is happy and fulfilling, and finding answers to questions like what does God say about marriage? Or what does marriage mean to you?, there are five facets that explain these better.
Now let’s have a look at them one by one.
1. Marriage means being in agreement
What is the true meaning of the concept of marriage?
There is a saying that says ‘how can two people go on a journey together unless they have agreed to do so?’ And it is the same with marriage. When two individuals decide to get married, there has to be some level of agreement between them.
In the past, this agreement may have been reached by the family members in the case of an arranged marriage. Nowadays, however, it is generally the couple themselves who make the decision and reach the agreement to spend the rest of their lives together.
After the fundamental question ‘will you marry me?’ has been asked and answered in the affirmative, then there are lots of further questions and agreements to be reached.
The couple needs to agree on what kind of legal marriage contract they will use, such as the community of property or an ante-nuptial contract. Some other important agreements would include whether or not to have children together, and if so how many.
They need to agree on how they will practice and express their faith and what they will teach their children.
But at the same time, in case an agreement cannot be reached, both partners should agree to disagree in a mature way or try to reach a compromise in case agreements can’t be reached to avoid letting these things build up into conflicts in the long run.
2. Marriage means letting go of your selfishness
Once you get married, you realize that it is no longer all about you. This is the true meaning of marriage in which ‘I’ becomes ‘We’.
In your single days, you could make your own plans, come and go as you chose, and basically make most of your decisions according to your own wishes and desires.
Now that you are married you have a spouse to consider twenty-four seven. Whether it is what to cook or buy for dinner, what to do over weekends, or where to go on holidays – both of your opinions now carry weight.
In this sense, a happy marriage is one of the best antidotes to selfishness.
Marriages which work the best and render the most satisfaction are those where both partners are one hundred percent committed, wholeheartedly seeking the happiness and wellbeing of their spouse.
The philosophy of a fifty-fifty marriage does not lead to fulfillment and contentment. When it comes to finding the true meaning of marriage, it is all or nothing. And incidentally, if one of you is giving all and the other is giving little or nothing, you may need some help to find the balance and to get on the same page.
3. The meaning of marriage is to become one
Another facet of the true meaning of marriage is that one plus one equals one. It is a blending of two lives on every level, the most obvious of which is physical, where sexual intimacy creates profound bonds as the marriage is consummated.
And, this is the most important purpose of marriage.
These bonds reach way beyond the physical though, as the emotional, psychological and spiritual levels are also touched. However, the true meaning of marriage, which is to become one does not imply that you lose your own identity.
On the contrary, the meaning of marriage implies completing and complementing one another to such an extent that you can both be better together than you could have been as singles.
Oneness does not happen automatically as you start living together – it requires a determined effort and considerable time spent together, getting to know one another deeply.
As you learn how to communicate effectively and how to resolve your conflicts sooner rather than later, you will find your oneness and intimacy increasing. It is also important to define your expectations clearly and find the middle ground in decision making.
4. Marriage means shaping a new generation
What is the purpose of marriage for most couples?
For most couples, the answer to what is marriage, lies in one of the most profound and wonderful privileges given to a married couple – it is the privilege of bringing forth children into this world. A secure and happy marriage is the best context in which to raise a child.
A couple, who are united in loving and teaching their offspring, will train them to become mature adults who are ready to make a valuable contribution to society. This facet of shaping the future generation can and does indeed bring true meaning to marriage.
But again, child rearing, like the other facets, does not come automatically or even easily. In fact, the challenges of parenting are renowned for placing a certain strain on the marriage relationship.
But, you do understand the real meaning of marriage and love once you become proud parents to your doting children.
That is why it is essential to keep your priorities firmly in place when children start arriving – remember your spouse always comes first, and then your children.
By keeping this order clear, your marriage will be able to survive intact and blessed even when the nest is empty again.
Now there’s a conflicting belief that when it comes to the spouse and kids, the children should come first because adults require less attention and can make their own decisions but at the same time, many couples also believe that it’s the other way round.
They know that children may ask for more attention but making them the center of your universe is not the right thing to do. A healthy marriage where each partner pays adequate attention to the other, contributes to healthy relationships and healthier parenting attitudes.
Understanding your priorities which change with time is the true meaning of marriage and this is the secret to a happy married life.
5. Marriage means changing, learning and growing
Understanding the marriage definition is not easy unless you are married. When you search the web for the marriage meaning, you will get many definitions for it. But, it is only the married couples who truly understand the meaning of it.
Right from the moment you say, ‘I do’, your life takes on a different route. Everything you knew before the marriage changes.
Change is one of the most certain things about life, including the institution of marriage. Change is also a sign that something is alive as only inanimate objects never change.
So enjoy all the changing seasons of your marriage, from the honeymoon to the first year, the baby years, the teenage and then college years, and then your golden years as you progress to retirement and the blessing of spending your old age still holding each other’s hands together.
Think of your marriage as an acorn which gets planted on your wedding day.
Thereafter, it begins to sprout and push up bravely through the dark soil, proudly displaying a few leaves. Slowly but surely as the weeks, months and years pass, the little oak shoot becomes a sapling which grows stronger and stronger.
Eventually one day you realize that your acorn has become a sturdy and shady tree, giving shelter and pleasure, not only to yourselves but also to others.
So what is the true meaning of marriage, according to you?
In simple words, the true meaning of marriage is to accept the other person and adjust to the various situations that you encounter in marriage to make it really work. The biblical definition of marriage also carries this same important concept.