As we go through this time of Lent, I have been greatly enjoying taking extra time to think about spiritual things. I listened to a podcast today about marriage and I found it fantastic. Not too long, only about 30 minutes.
Here is one quote that explains very beautifully what Dr. Phillip Mamalakis’ Orthodox perspective on marriage is:
This is, what I think, is the most beautiful part of our understanding of marriage. I think the more I learn about and live out this marriage, the more I’m moved by God’s mercy, His grace and His love. That, as St. John Chrysostom wrote, “Marriage was created for chastity.” So what we see, that within this marriage, we have an invitation to heal from all these negative, and often destructive, patterns of relating.
Marriage is the path of healing from these patterns. Marriage is the context where we will both discover them, and be invited to change them. As we learn how to respond when we see the negative patterns and negative sins, as we learn how to do things in a different way, as we learn how to turn towards Christ and turn towards each other in the face of these sins, we see miracles happen.
In the Orthodox Church, marriage is a sacrament because it is one way that we come into contact with Christ. We do not exchange vows in an Orthodox wedding because our commitment is to Christ and our love for our spouse is because of our love for Christ. Marriage is a path to holiness.
Another quote that I loved:
God’s goal for marriage is that we live happily ever after, that His goal is happiness. But, when we hear about “happily ever after” in the fairy tale sense, it usually means “happy because I got all my desires met.” I tell people very clearly, God’s goal is that you are happy in your marriage, and that happiness comes from freeing yourself up from your selfish desires, freeing yourself up from your need to get your own way or to control your spouse. And, the more free you are from those desires, the more happy you will be—today and the next day.
I love that as we grow in our faith, we understand better that God DOES desire our happiness but our happiness comes from freeing ourselves up from our selfish desires. God desires that we are happy where we are, not that we spend our time making ourselves happy.