"I am afraid"
This is often the sentiment I hear when asked what men think of entering into marriage. Certainly there is joy and excitement, but present also is the fear of loss.
Something about living with another person in perpetuity, even with someone we love, seems to threaten our independence and the time we used to have to do whatever we want.
And so we are afraid.
Having been married (at the time of writing) for over 6 years now, I find that God has taught me to see this from the other side of the coin.
He began teaching me that unaccounted time is overrated.
I feel that what strikes fear in the hearts of men approaching marriage and even in marriage is the idea that they have to be accountable for their time.
They don't just come home to an empty home to do as they please–someone is waiting for them. And depending on the size of their home, they have have lost a sense of their privilege to privacy.
But like privacy, unaccountable time as I've learned, is overrated.
Rather, this new life of being accountable to someone is the best thing that could have ever happened to me. For in being accountable with my time, I am forced to grow.
I am forced to grow out of my childish habits. I am forced to assess whether the way I spend my time is really fruitful and meaningful. I am forced to assess whether the things I "do in private" are godly.
And so, God uses my marriage partner as a mirror to help shape and grow me into the man of God as I am. This is unaccomplishable for a person who is not accountable for their time.
Do not fear the fire marriage brings. Embrace the possibility that God uses marriage to shape us into men of God and we will be shaped. However, run away from that reality, as men married for 20 years still do, and we will live with the harsh reality that we will remain boys in a marriage designed for men.
The Psalmist said it best: "Let a righteous man strike me--that is a kindness; let him rebuke me--that is oil on my head."
If I could count the joys of every time marriage has shaped me into a better man I would be a rich man. Yet after just six years in, I realized–I already am.
Men–embrace the fire of marriage, and you shall be rich as well.
Lord, help us to embrace the reality that marriage forces us to be accountable for our lives. Help us to recognize that in that place, through the partner that you have chosen for us, you make us more like you in ways we couldn't have on our own. Thank you for that possibility, for in being made like you, we have the greatest joy we can experience.