Loving the Stranger
You wouldn’t marry a complete stranger, would you? Well – surprise! – if you’re married, that’s exactly what you’ve done.
On our wedding day, we all innocently believe the same myth: that we know and understand the person we’re marrying. But every newlywed eventually discovers that getting to know the depths of someone’s heart takes years. That’s the nature of relationship, especially one as intimate as marriage. So in that sense, we all marry a stranger. We’re in love with what little we know about our spouse, but we don’t know them. Not really.
Maybe that’s why Stanley Hauerwas defines a successful marriage as “learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.” What does he mean? Simply this: In countless ways, the person we commit to on our wedding day will not be the same person five, ten, or twenty years from now. In fact, neither will we. Marriage changes us. So does raising children, careers, the aging process, and other significant events in our lives.
That’s why it’s important to understand that marriage is not a stopping point where we instantly know our spouse fully and completely. It’s a journey through life between a man and woman, both of whom continually grow and change across their years together. As one speaker said, “When people get married, they tend to believe they’ve found a finished statue, when in reality, they’ve merely found the block of marble from which their spouse will emerge.” Commit to loving your spouse and helping them grow more Christ-like each day.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Ephesians 4:15 NIV