One of my children’s favorite board games is the game of Life because from the very beginning players make decisions that affect how the game will end. Before the first move, players choose whether to go to college or to pursue a career.
No matter which path you choose, you begin the game, knowing it will end.
What if you looked at Marriage the same way?
There is no Marriage in Heaven so, whether Marriage ends in divorce or in death, it’s guaranteed to end.
What if relationships started from that premise?
That’s not meant to be jaded, morbid, or depressing. In a world, where “friends with benefits,” cohabitation, and even “long term commitment” take precedence over Covenant, knowing it will all end is a reminder of the seriousness but also of the beauty and power of the Marriage vow.
Whether you are Married but struggling, Married and seeking to make a good Marriage amazing, or wondering whether Marriage is ever going to be part of your plan, decisions you make now affect how your vocation will end. Like in the game of Life, decisions you make today don’t guarantee a positive ending, but they can increase your chances of it.
Beginning Marriage with the end in mind, means understanding what a positive ending means. Ending Marriage well, doesn’t mean a “good divorce.”Even children know that, while there may be a necessary divorce in rare instances, there is never a truly Good divorce.
Ending a Marriage well means looking beyond struggle, even struggle found in death, to what comes after. Ending well means looking into the eyes of God as you are wrapped in His powerful embrace and warmed by His perfect Love. To enjoy Marriage in this world, you must seek the One you are meant to be with. You must seek the Love you will embrace when life on this board ends.
The game of Life is won by the player who gets the most stuff, but Marriage and the life God gifts us with are not games. They are not about college educations, career choices, accumulating more stuff, or beating other players.
You don’t end Marriage well by any measures this world deems important. You win by ending in Love. You win by understanding that only God is Love made perfect.
Or is Love God made perfect?
It is impossible to know because God and Love are inseparable. One does not make the other. One did not come first. They exist together, united, forever. They are each other.
If you want a loving Marriage, you must seek Love first, and only God is Love.
For many, Marriage is a scary. It is a surrender to another when the world scoffs at surrender. It is a submission that reaches beyond the physical to realms of trust and nakedness that cannot be portrayed by Hollywood starlets.
Marriage is not a game, but like the game of Life, it begins with a decision, not to collect more, but to give more. In the game of Life, your decision is (almost) a one shot deal. You are, more or less, stuck with what you chose at the start of the game.
Having a fulfilling Marriage begins with the decision to seek God first, but unlike the game of Life, in Marriage and in the life God gifts you with, you are offered a chance to change your ending every moment of every day. Each dawn is a new opportunity to Love better no matter what your spouse or ex does. It is an opportunity to seek first the Kingdom of God and to choose how this too will end. It is the chance to begin again, not by walking away, but by choosing to seek fulfillment in God’s Love.
There is beauty in everything, even the end of a Marriage done right. The question is, how do you prepare for Marriage so that the end is done right in a world where nothing is guaranteed? How do you risk your heart, sanity, finances, and future for something that will end at a time beyond your choosing?
You begin with the end in mind. You begin today to acknowledge that the only one perfect for you is the Lord, and that He already Loves you perfectly. You begin by acknowledging no human love can compete with who your heart really longs for. When this life comes to its end, the only Love you will truly Hope to feel is the perfect Love of the Trinity in union with the Communion of Saints, not the love of one human being you had hoped was perfect for you.
Live today with your end in mind. Put your trust in the One meant for you. Choose Love.