Marriage Thoughts From a Guy Who Has Never Even Been In Love

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

There are times when thoughts hit me like an avalanche and I become so consumed with them I have to tell someone, you are that someone. Humor me here for a second (I am sure that this is an obvious statement).

Marriage is not an individualistic thing

Yes, if you want to tweet out that amazing and insightful statement feel free, or if you want to mock me do that as well. But as I sat at what seemed like my 100th wedding in my lifetime this past weekend that thought struck me. From the beginning God realized that it was not good for man to be alone. From that moment on relationships were made up of two people (friendships and marriage apply here).

You are probably tracking with me on this one, but here is where I might throw a curveball in…

Marriage is not about the couple but the community

I really think that we can agree that marriage is not done alone, that you have to have a partner that you share the rest of your life with. But if that is all you have in your marriage it can get very very dangerous. Now two things might jump out here. First, you might be thinking “this guy has no clue what he is talking about, I mean he tweeted out the other day that he needs a wife. What can a 23yr old who has never even been in love know about marriage?” Second thought, “is this guy advocating polygamy?” These are two valid questions that I understand and no I am not advocating having multiple wives or partners. I know I do not know anything about marriage. But I do know that I have 2 eyes that can see and 2 ears that can hear, and a mouth that can ask questions. Even though I have never played the game of hockey I can observe and learn. Same with relationships and marriage, even though I haven’t been married I can observe and learn.

Here is how I know that marriage was never entended to be done alone…you invite people to your wedding. Think about it, if marriage was meant to be between two people you would never invite family and friends to your “special” day. It would be just you and a judge at the courthouse getting the deed done. Remember now that you are humoring me on this and might already be far ahead of me, but I just started to realize this stuff.

I find it amazing that marriage is not done alone. At marriages core level you are united as one and share that commitment, that relationship, with the community.
There is no better place to look at this then in Jewish tradition. There is one word that has struck me as very interesting, Yichud . This word simply means “privacy.” Now this word holds its weight for the couple both before they are married and after. Before couples are married, yichud is not allowed. Some orthodox Jews go as far as never having any physical touch at all. The best way I have heard this describe is picturing the relationship like an open door, no privacy, someone is always watching. Now after the marriage ceremony the couple escapes away for a few minutes of yichud. This is done behind a closed door, alone, just the couple and God. Now you might be wondering what is going on behind closed doors…we all are, but that moment is a very intimate time and usually is the first time that the couple has had any physical contact. As the author of Mudhouse Sabbath Lauren Winner described this experience, “a single peck on the cheek is a spark-sending, faint-inducing big deal.”  She later went on to describe a Jewish wedding that she attended and the first time the bride and groom came out of the yichud room, they simple could not stop holding hands. It was the first time their hands had ever touched.

You might be wondering why I am using a strange word to describe marriage and community. But I think the yichud room is the very point. Its the place where privacy gives way to community. You can imagine that having no physical contact up until that moment of being alone would make you never want to leave that room. The last thing you would want to do is leave that room, but the couple returns to their family and friends who will now support them in their new relationship. For Jewish couples, marriage is not done alone, but done with a community.

I do not want to turn this post into a discussion about the problem with marriage and relationships and why the divorce rate is so high. Simply put, I want to make an observation that sometimes couples forget the fact that they did not get married alone and instead go married in front of their community. A community that will now hold them accountable to the commitments they made to each other, a community that is there to support them through good times and bad. I think we have lost this idea of community and marriage.

I do not know where I am going with this point, but simple have realized the significance of marriage and relationships inside of community. I cannot help but see marriage ceremonies as a great picture of Christ and the Church. Church is not meant to be done alone, but to be found in community with others.

*kyle

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Kyle Reed

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Kyle Reed is a connector looking to connect with others. A 20 Something that is blogging his way through life and looking to connect through community. Also a team member of the 8BIT Network and brand evangelist. Find me on twitter: @kylelreed, lets chat.
  • Anna (@ampersand86)

    Okay. I tried to respond via twitter but I realized that it was going to be a little long winded. (surprised?? I’m not! ha)

    ANYWAY.

    I think this is super insightful. When my husband and I got married in 08, we were literally the first couple in either circle of friends to take the plunge. We only knew one other seriously dating couple and those first several months of marriage were a serious transition for us and we ended up seeking out an engaged/newlywed small group at our church.

    Being totally candid here, I think the reason we needed other married people is because for one, while we could relate to how our friends felt about being single and dating, they couldn’t relate to how we felt anymore. The people who had been our confidants in the past just didn’t get it, and that was okay. Marriage is one of those things that’s kind of hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced it yet.

    It’s bizarre because in our situation we went from living alone and being totally independent to living with someone and being interdependent, yet we felt totally isolated. We learned during that time how important community is to marriage.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that before we found a community, we felt like we were in a vacuum. Every little first-married-I’m-still-getting-to-know-you argument felt so much bigger, every feeling was so much more volatile until we knew that not only were other people were going through (or had been through) the same thing, but they somehow got past it.

    Which brings me to my point, I guess… Not only is community alone important to marriage, but a community of people committed to their marriage covenants (ooo, churchy phrase usage) is vital. There are times when married people will need that support.

    (I should also add a disclaimer: this is coming from someone happily married. :D)
    (also, sorry for the tl;dr comment. I warned you that it would be long. HA)

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      No need to apologize, love the comment, preach it

  • Kirk Bolen

    Kyle
    Great post and I appreciate Anna’s comments and can relate. Shortly after we were married we moved to St. Charles where we didnt know anybody. The first few years there were really tough just like the last comment said, even though we were together, we felt alone. I can remember when we were dating and engaged thinking that we would be totally happy stranded on a desert island alone together forever but the truth is that part of seeing the beauty of marriage is doing life with other people

    Man you are right that we have lost the community aspect of marraige and of just about every other part of our lives.

    Taking this a step further down the marriage road. I loved going through Mens Fraternity and learning about the importance of raising a kid in community. You know there are things that you can teach your child and then there are things they just have to watch you do. I have not ever told my son that the little black thing covered in buttons controls the TV but he knows it. Healthy, accountable relationships with a community in marriage teaches your kids that relationships are important. I also know that you want people around that will reinforce what you are teaching your children.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      Great example with connecting what our kids see and what we see from out community and what they see with us. I like that Kirkbob

  • http://tyhuze.wordpress.com Tyler

    Kyle, your post doesn’t really connect community and marriage for me. Maybe I’m being dull, but basically you’ve said since the ceremony has lots of people (many of which you have no real community with anyway) that the lifelong commitment of a couple should bank on community. Wedding =\= marriage so I need more convincing.

    All people need community for various reasons. How specifically does community and marriage intersect in a way that is exclusive from community simply intersecting with life regardless of marital status?

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      You have a point. And I really think that my limited knowledge on the subject keeps me from giving specific examples.
      One thing I can think of is mentoring inside the church. It seems sometimes that community and marriage would be a natural fit for the church, but yet they seem to live in opposite corners. For example, when we hear about someone who is going through a divorce or separation, the first reaction is judgement, condemnation, and gossip. Almost like it is not a safe place to have problems. Or what about community of mentoring from older wiser married couples and younger newly weds. Not saying that does not happen, but I do not hear a whole lot about that.

      I am hoping the community here can shed some light.

      • http://bouncebouncesplat.wordrpess.com Ampersan86

        Tyler, you are totally right that wedding =\= marriage. It’s one pretty, sparkly, (hopefully) perfect day out of the next 50 years together.

        I also agree that everybody needs community — people were made to need people.

        But I also totally get where Kyle is coming from. I’m not sure if this is the same for everyone, but like I hinted at previously my need for community evolved after I got married. Before, it was sort of a refuge from singleness, somewhere to find fun things to do and it was kind of thoughtless. I was pretty independent before (still am, actually), so I didn’t put a lot of thought into it.

        But I *needed* that support system after I got married like I needed food and water. I needed people who had been there, done that to walk me and talk me through what was happening in my life because it was such an enormous change on my lifestyle. Not only that, but I became a lot more selective with who I chose to spend my time with because subconsciously those people can have an affect on your attitude towards your husband and home life. Maybe that makes me weak minded, but my momma always said ‘when you lay with dogs, you get fleas’ and I tend to believe it :P

        So do you think it would be fair to say that if we’re born with that need for community to a certain extent, when marriage comes into the picture the need becomes a necessity?

        Kyle, I don’t want to paint with a broad brush, but at least in my neck of the woods there is very little to no mentoring going on after people graduate from high school. All of the college ministries in the area sort of fall off a cliff after people reach their junior year in college, and there’s this huge gaping ministry hole until people start showing up with their kids ten years later. The hubs and I actually had to start a newlywed group from scratch bc it was nonexistent, and we couldn’t convince one older couple to come function as a sort of mentor/facilitator. It was quite sad.

        • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

          oh no, you are not alone nor are you painting with a broad brush. That is true of everywhere. It (mentoring) is truly a problem amongst a lot of churches.

  • http://acalledlife.blogspot.com/ Mindy

    Kyle, I think you are on the right track.

    As a fellow single person, I’ve occasionally mulled over these same thoughts. I would summarize this whole thing with the word “witness.”

    During the ceremony, I as a friend, am a witness to their commitment to one another and to God. Does that entitle me to hold them accountable in their commitments? I think so! I think if the witnesses were more involved in “marriage maintanence” then perhaps there would be a lower divorce rate.

    But also, the couple in itself becomes a witness to the world. Like you alluded, they are a witness of Christ’s love for the Church. Marriages should be providing the individuals a clearer example of God’s love and because of that, marriages should be instrumental in changing communities.

    Those are my thoughts for the time being. It will be interesting to see how others respond.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      great thoughts, really great thoughts.
      I think we are in the same thinking and boat.

      I do wonder though, as single people who do you hold married people accountable? Is that possible?

      • http://acalledlife.blogspot.com/ Mindy

        Ideally yes. In regards to our Christian brothers and sisters, single people should be able to speak to our married friends admonishing and correcting as needed, regardless of our marital status.

        I suppose one way to be involved in the marriages of my friends is through prayer and encouragement.

        However, I think outside our closest friends, we’ve convinced ourselves that “their” marriage is none of our business. But that mentality isn’t correct and clearly the breakdown of marriages affects the Church.

        Clearly I don’t have all the answers.

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  • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

    In my experience, the couples who get married and bar off their life from others struggle to stay happy for long periods. But the flip side is that the couples who never get alone time and are always with other couples/people also seem to be less happy as well. The importance of balance in marriage truly can’t be overstated I don’t think.

  • http://kugirl84.wordpress.com/ Chelsea C

    I appreciate your post on this topic. I think we don’t fully understand marriage but God can prepare us and we can always ask questions. I talk with one of my sisters all the time and I’m always asking questions. I won’t fully understand marriage until I get married but I can still learn a lot while I’m still single. I have some friends who got married and are still a part of our young professionals group at church, where no one else is married. It has been very difficult for them because we are in a different part of our lives. It’s good to be around others who can help and provide wisdom. I am so glad you have a passion for mentoring in the church. I think it is lacking in so many areas! Great post Kyle.

  • http://theperkinsblog.net Michael

    Okay, I am 28 and have been married for 7 years. I definitely see the need for community because truthfully things come up that we may not know how to handle. To be honest, we have found this in our parents and grandparents, because the majority of our friends were and are not married.

    There are many things that we tackle on our own. (actually the majority) I think that we need a sense of community in everything, not just marriage. Life is about community. Christianity is about community…I hope this makes sense.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      Is it possible to find this community (more specifically in dealing with issues in marriage) with single people. Like you said, most of your friends are single, so how do you have community with them as a married couple?

      • http://theperkinsblog.net Michael

        I’m gonna be honest. When it comes to “issues” those are kept between us and our mentors. We don’t air out issues with the “community.”

        I think that our single friends help us to tackle those issues just by being our friends. We don’t have to talk about anything in particular…we can just hang out and it helps. I think the key is just to know that you are loved.

        I probably didn’t answer your question and I probably contradicted myself…but that’s kinda how it works.

        • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

          That made sense.
          I think that is healthy.
          There are some limits there to the relationships.
          So I think I understand what you are saying.

  • http://www.contentunderpressure.net Josh

    It’s all about balance. My wife and I have been knee-deep in community with others before, which was wonderful. However, we tended to lose sight of each other and our marriage in the process. On the flip side, we’ve spent the last four years living in a new state with virtually no community, and the longing for that has created a struggle within the two of us.

    So, it must fall somewhere in between the extremes, IMO.