With the recent passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, much of the press has highlighted the benefits of the strong marriage bond between her and President Ronald Reagan. Her devotion to him was integral to his success and his career. (See “Nancy Reagan was her husband’s indispensable force” Christian Science Monitor)
The advantages of marriage – watching out for one another, providing emotional support in times of trouble, sharing the workload of a household and family responsibilities – translate, research suggests, into health-giving benefits.
However, many of us are happy singles with solid friendships, a life of purpose and a sensible diet and lifestyle – all things that we are told lead to a long and healthy life.
And, that’s probably a good trend because the status of marriage is troubled. While marriage remains a most important social institution in Canada, the numbers of people choosing this formal union are on the decline.
Statistics suggest that the identity norms of past years are being upended with the acceptance in our country of divorce, singlehood, and new lifestyle and gender choices. How we identify ourselves and/or our family unit is now an open conversation.
And, while both the freedom to choose and the willingness to openly discuss are important, they don’t guarantee that more and more of us are finding a sense of satisfaction or contentment in how we feel about ourselves. That’s clear with the evident growth of the self-improvement industry to billions of dollars and the rising demand for depression treatments.
I remember when, as a young adult, I felt uncomfortable about my individuality as I was oddly (for the times) single among my many married friends. Throughout my twenties, I fielded the oft-asked proverbial question: “why is a lovely girl like you not married?” I confess, I, too, asked myself that same question! At times, I felt very much a “single” and feared that I would never have a supportive and loving companion.
Did I need another individual – in a committed relationship – to feel like a whole and complete person? Better than any self-help coach or counsellor, I turned to the Bible for answers to life’s challenges since I had discovered practical answers for other problems in its words of wisdom.
I found an arresting statement by the prophet Isaiah: “For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name.” (Isa. 54:5) The Bible also declares “God [my Maker] is love”. (1 John 4:8)
I hadn’t really thought about my relationship to God in this way. I realized that the things I would want in a marriage – to be loved, cared for, supported – I was already getting from God. This new insight inspired me to trust my completeness to God even more.
“Union of the masculine and feminine qualities constitutes completeness” (p.57:4) wrote Christian theologian and author, Mary Baker Eddy in her seminal work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures – a book I often used as a companion to the Bible. To me this meant that I could find satisfaction and a sense of wholeness based on my God-given qualities, which included not only the softness of femininity, but also the strength of masculinity.
What a sense of relief flooded in when I realized that as a child of a loving God, my happiness did not depend on a specific person or relationship! I had it all through my divine heritage! All fears and concerns about finding my “soul mate” receded and I continued on for many years as a “single,” feeling very happy, complete and ready to share this happiness with whomever crossed my path.
In my early thirties I unexpectedly met my “soul mate” and a truly happy marriage ensued. My husband told me that it was my innate sense of wholeness that he found so attractive in the first place. And our healthy marriage turned out to be a joint journey of unity that grew out of our individual completeness.
This article is published throughout Ontario in Metroland News sites such as Durham Region News.