Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Survey Says...Me First!

That's about what it amounts to these days. The Indianapolis Star ran an interesting AP article this past Sunday reporting on a Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting. Essentially, the survey reported that children are less associated with successful marriages than sharing household chores, a good sex life, and faithfulness; children are eighth on the list out of nine. Interestingly, in a similar survey taken 17 years ago, children were third on the list. In addition the recent survey says that a majority of Americans say that the main purpose of marriage is the mutual fulfillment and happiness of adults.

What a sad world we live in.

I've been married for eleven years to a wonderful, beautiful, caring woman. She's the only woman I've ever loved, and the only one I ever will. She can be trying and difficult at times, but I'm no Fred Rogers. She puts up with my hobbies and my mulishness, and I in turn bear her moods and foibles. I'm still as crazy about her as I was in those long-ago days when we sat under the "Magic Tree" (there is a story about this, I'll tell you later) at the University, dreaming about our future together.

This is where I think the respondents of the survey have got it wrong, and are indicative of the 'me first' mind-set that pervades our world today. Too often I see married couples who compete with each other and dangle rewards at each other as incentives to do the other's bidding. In such an atmosphere, the marriage is doomed to fail, I believe, or at the least be unfulfilling. Marriage is a partnership, a commitment to do life with someone. The Bible is very clear that husband and wife are one flesh, that is united into one entity. Not 'she and I' but 'Us.' A subtle, but very important distinction. I do not expect that my wife make me happy; I sacrifice to make her happy, because I love her. Seeing her content and at peace brings me more joy that anything else she could do.

But what about children? Well, I believe that children are God's gift and reward for this commitment. They are a tremendous responsibility, like all of God's gifts; but they are a source of joy as well. I love my children, but I could not raise them without their mother, as she could not raise them without me. They're ours, and on our list, they come first.