It’s an odd combination, marriage. It’s more than “living together”.
There’s something about the relationship that changes when marriage happens, and something that’s missing when a couple is simply living together.
I left home to live with my girlfriend at the time, but we didn’t marry. Living together was not the same as I experience with my wife. That may partly be because it’s a different person, but in general I believe there’s something more fundamental than that. A couple that simply co-habits has, however tenuous, the option of simply stopping living together. Granted as time goes on this becomes harder as the individual lives enmesh with purchases and the suchlike, but at it’s core there’s no true commitment.
Christ made this clear with the woman at the well who had had five husbands and was now living with another man. The account of the story in John 4 clearly makes Jesus’s point. Living with a man doesn’t make him a husband – no matter what goes on in the bedroom.
I had 2 “serious” girlfriends before I met my wife. The relationships were both essentially built on looking at what I could get out of the venture, rather than what I could offer. The drive was selfish, built on something other than Love, rather they were based on the twisted version the World offers – lust and selfishness.
In psychology the term enmeshed is used as a negative description of a relationship. But in a marriage the way God designed it, that level of unity is necessary for the marriage to survive. I never experienced that with either of my girlfriends, even though our relationships were highly intense. With my wife, even before we were married and while we were living on different continents we had a connection where one of us would just know the other needed a call, so would call. The connection was on a Spiritual level, not merely a physical one, and it’s only deepened over the ten years we’ve been married.
But it’s not easy.
Don’t be fooled by what I just said. Maintaining that connection actually gets harder the longer you’re married. The Enemy strikes to destroy marriage as he does with all God’s creations intended for good. He willtry to drop a voice into your head dismissing the Spiritual nudge, and bizarre as it seems, we listen. We exchange Knowledge for familiarity in our marriage. The Bible doesn’t say the husband and wife were familiar with each other’s habits. It says they Knew one another. Knowing someone the way scripture implies it is far beyond familiarity. It takes a lifetime, if you include eternity as part of your life. There’s no escaping it, we are required of God to seek Him continuously and each day to strive to learn something new about Him. Marriage is a reflection of that relationship. My grandparents were married fifty years and could still surprise each other with their characters. They still learned new things about each other.
Marriage is about being Friends and Lovers in God’s sense of the words. He is our Friend. He is our Lover.