Top Three Reasons I Stay Married

In the spring of 2010, urban playwright Tyler Perry, released his new movie Why did I get married too, the sequel to his tremendously successful 2007 comedy-drama, Why did I get married?. Perry’s movie challenges me to ask myself not just why I got married but also why I stay married.

For some of us Why did I get married? brought comic relief to serious marital stressors that are often at the center of our marital conflict – helping us to laugh at ourselves.

But, for others the film is a darker reminder of betrayal, loneliness, and other abuses that have left marital scars – often beyond repair.

This movie caused many of us to think personally about our own marriage. Why did I get married?

As I reminisce about the beginning of my marriage over twenty-five years ago and ponder the question I admit that I was quite naïve in some ways and overly simplistic in others. But, one thing is clear. I know exactly why I got married – at least my most basic reason. I wanted “God-approved” S-E-X. Yes, regular, unabashedly passionate, maybe even erotic sex. But, is that all? Besides sex, why else did I get married?

Was it just the next logical step after I finished college? You know the life sequence (at least the way it used to be) – graduate from high school then college, get a job, and then get married. Maybe it was about companionship. Did I get married because I believed God had shown me my “soul mate” with whom I would share a lifetime of successes and struggles? Or, maybe it was to have beautiful children that would be raised by two loving parents. Is that why I got married?Most of us who reflect on Tyler Perry’s question will include these reasons and maybe a few more.

As a Christian psychologist, I would like to pose a different question – why did God want me married?

God’s design for marriage is most evident in His depiction of Christ and the Church as the bridegroom and the bride, respectively. The marital relationship is what theologians call a “type” or symbol of Christ’s relationship with the Church. In other words, marriage like church is intended to be a sacred place of worship. God, in his infinite wisdom, strategically places our marriages at the crossroads of culture. Your godly marriage speaks of truth, fidelity, vulnerability, mutuality, and unconditional love to a culture steeped in self-centeredness.

As detailed in my book, Marriage ROCKS for Christian Couples, your godly marriage models redemption, intimacy, healthy boundaries, and unwavering faith to friends and family members searching for hope. Even with its struggles (and ultimately because of its struggles), your godly marriage is a ministry – a light in a dark world.

But, in a culture decimated by fractured marriages, I have come to realize that Tyler Perry’s question as to why I got married may be much less important than why I stay married. I don’t stay married for the sex, the companionship, or the children (at least not mostly). So, why do I stay married?

There are three reasons that immediately come to mind.
Reason #1: My marriage is an offering to God

  • Most importantly, I stay married because my godly marriage is an offering to God – a daily decision to remind a lost world that the power of the Lord is mighty. So, I can’t treat it like it is just about me. It is designed to be a sacrifice that ultimately provides me reward beyond measure.

Reason #2: My marriage shapes my destiny

  • Marriage pushes me to be bigger than I am. When done well, it stretches me to find my potential rather than settling in my comfort zone. Few, if any, relationships challenge a person to grow more in character (with patience, grace, humility) than marriage. It is rarely easy to be shaped. But, when embraced it opens a world of possibilities to you personally,  as a couple, and as a family.

Reason #3: I love S-E-X with one woman

  • Research data clearly show that married couples have more satisfying sex lives than our single counterparts. And, I’m quite satisfied, thank you very much. But, it is more than an issue of satisfaction. It is the idea that my wife of more than 25 years understands my intimacy needs and loves me enough to make it a priority. And, I can offer this to her also.
  • And, I feel comfortable enough that when I don’t perform as well I’d (or she would) like in those intimate situations that my wife responds with encouraging sensitivity. I love her for protecting me in these vulnerable situations.

So, those are my top three reason why I stay married. What about you? Why do you stay married?

Or, maybe you are more skeptical about marriage. Tell me more. What concerns you?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Doreen Amatelli

    Having undergone an ending to a long, and demeaning
 marriage, I had lost my faith in the principle. I
    wondered if I could ever make 
sense of it or understand it again, hopefully
    from a new perspective. I often 
beat myself up wondering how could I have made
    such a wrong decision early on
in my life in my early 20s. Dr.
    Arnold reminds me that my reasons for marriage may have been overly
    simplistic and selfish in the beginning, but I made my decision to marry
    based on the information
 I had at the time. Recently, I contemplate the
    meaning of marriage in my late 40’s and whether I want to be a part of
    it again. Seeing myself as more mature (although that it is all
    relative), I am encouraged by Dr. Arnold’s characterization of marriage as
    a gift and not to be entered into lightly or 
selfishly. I also am inspired to
    embrace the notion that good marriages encourage people to grow beyond
    their comfort zones. What a great question to ask yourself when evaluating the future with a potential new partner? You can grow together and build the kind of relationship you both want and need
    if both people are committed to each other as well as to the higher-powered energy that
    draws you together.

    • Harold L Arnold Jr

      @doreenamatelli:disqus Thank you so much for sharing. This is a helpful reminder for all of us regardless of the current state of our marriage that maturity (whether that be spiritual, financial, sexual, or otherwise) is the key to to a sustained relationship. I’m still doing some growing up myself.