Marriage--Who Shall I Mary?


"A man shall leave his father and mother

and hold fast to his wife,

and they shall become one flesh."

Genesis 2:24

Most youth wonder with whom they will spend their lives. They ask, "How will I know if I really love somebody?"

Psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan's a definition of love serves as a benchmark for answering this question. You may remember that he says, "A state of love exists when the satisfaction and security of the other person becomes as significant to you as your own satisfaction and security."

I like this definition because it provides an ongoing personal metric for gauging a love relationship. In some ways it appears to be counter-cultural to what is called a "Me, Me, Me" generation. But sincere love for the other person coupled with concern for his or her satisfaction and security is necessary for personal happiness.

Lena Dunham (one who appears to understand contemporary culture and is a two-time winner of Golden Globes), has her TV character comment on her two-day experience in a loving family relationship, "What I didn't realize is that I was lonely in such a deep, deep way. I want what everyone wants, to be happy."

Mentors and parents likely would agree that Sullivan's definition of love is relevant today because they understand that if love is to be long-lasting, it requires that individuals actively seek the satisfaction and security of the other person. It is that security that provides a foundation for personal growth, for self-expansion, for happiness.

Happy marriages are based on a love commitment rather than feelings because, although powerful, feelings are temporary. Beauty fades. Hormones quiet down. According to many studies and hundreds of my own counseling cases, it appears clear that sustainable happiness in marriage requires a love commitment described by Sullivan.

Marriage Facts to Consider