I did enjoy the article written by Seth Adam Smith “Marriage isn’t for you.” I enjoyed the article because the heartfelt expression of self-giving was true and beautiful. However there were two things that I felt were lacking in this post. One, happiness is not the goal of marriage, holiness is. Steven LaMotte wrote a piece addressing this issue called Marriage Isn’t For You: A Response. Another post by a blogger named Jeremy also addressed how this article seems to leave God out. So I won’t get into that on this post. The second thing I disagree with is the theme found in this excerpt:
“You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family…Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married…No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love–their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, ‘What’s in it for me?’ while Love asks, ‘What can I give?’”
I think this is a description of what LOVE is, not marriage. Every time he says marriage, swap it out for Love and I think I would agree with everything he says. “You don’t love to make yourself happy, you love to make someone else happy. Love isn’t for yourself.” Love is for the beloved.
However, marriage is for me. I am going to be a part of the marriage, and though my love should be completely self-sacrificial and for the benefit of my spouse, I am still the other half of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.
If you are dating and view your relationship as ‘if I’m not happy, but I like making my significant other happy’ this is not a healthy relationship. If you believe that simply sucking it up and being a martyr without ever thinking of the good the relationship is doing for your own soul, the relationship will destroy you.
“Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another” ( CCC 1605). The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). A spouse is created to be a helper for you. Marriage is “a partnership of the whole of life” (CCC 1601). A partnership is “an arrangement in which parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests” (Wikipedia). There is more than just one interest in a partnership. It isn’t only about the other person. Marriage is “by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses” (CCC 1601). Not just one spouse or the other, but both. “The well-being of the individual person…is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.” (Gaudium et Spes 47)
I understand what the article that Seth Adam Smith was trying to get across, but I think that it could be misleading. Love is meant to be selfless. However, when you are choosing a partner for life, someone who is meant to help you on your way to holiness, you must think about yourself. The two partners “are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving” (FC 19). So marriage is for the other, but marriage is also for me. Marriage wasn’t meant only to help one of the partners, it was designed by God to help each member reach holiness and their heavenly goal.
So I am not completely bashing Seth Adam Smith’s article, but I am trying to say that what he is talking about is love. If you haven’t realized love is not for you yet, you haven’t been to enough weddings where they read “love is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Marriage must be about both individuals, or it is not a partnership. If both members take Mr. Smith’s approach to love it is indeed a true marriage, but if only one person holds this view and they are not receiving the mutual help from their significant other that is not marriage.
If my boyfriend isn’t going to help me get to heaven, then I will not choose him as my husband and father of my children. If my boyfriend isn’t going to make me happy, then It would not be a prudent decision to marry him. This does NOT mean that I will be focused on myself in a marriage, and ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ I do desire to serve my future husband and lay down my life for him. However, marriage cannot be decided upon simply by your desire to serve the person you love, you must take your own soul into consideration.