According to the news being reported this past week, President Obama and I have something in common: both of us have wives who are more popular than we are! 

I don’t know about the president, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that for a variety of reasons my wife Patti is always going to have more friends, make more of an impression, and draw more of a crowd than I. She is a lovely, lively and witty person who is simply fun to be around. I get it. 

What’s more, I love it! 

I not only love (and like) the person I’m married to, I love the fact that I’ve been privileged to be married to her. I love the difference she’s made in my life. What’s more, I love the difference that sharing life with her has made in me! (Hopefully, she feels much the same about being married to me!) 

This idea that a couple’s marriage can have a transformational effect upon the both of them is at the heart of a book that Patti and co-wrote entitled: Beyond the Bliss: Discovering Your Uniqueness in Marriage. In the introduction to this book we write: 

            To be sure, being married is a good thing; the Bible tells us so. Passages such as Genesis 2:18 and 2:24 teach us that God gave the institution of marriage to humankind in order to meet an innate need within each of us for a sense of intimate companionship. And yet, this doesn’t mean that just any experience of marriage will do. The Bible doesn’t encourage the practice of being married many times over the course of one’s life (see Matthew 19:9); neither should we think that simply being married a long time, by itself, guarantees that we are experiencing the good God intended the institution of marriage to produce in our lives. Unfortunately, nearly everyone knows of at least one couple whose long-lasting marriage was remarkably void of anything resembling real, genuine companionship. 

            So, at the very outset of this book, we want to make the bold assertion that it’s one thing to have a long marriage; it’s another to have a healthy one. Marriage has a purpose. Healthy marriages fulfill that purpose; unhealthy marriages don’t. 

The Purpose of Marriage

            So, what is the purpose of marriage? Knowing God to be a loving heavenly Father who desires our wholeness as well as our happiness, our hearts resonate with the purpose of marriage put forward by the Swiss medical doctor turned Christian turned psychiatrist—Paul Tournier—who said “That is what marriage really means: helping one another to reach the full status of being persons, responsible and autonomous beings who do not run away from life.”[1] In other words, the purpose of marriage is to help both partners in the relationship become fully human as God originally intended. 

            In a nutshell, this what this book is about: Our goal as authors is to help our readers cultivate truly healthy marriages that not only last a long time, but that serve to empower husbands and wives to become uniquely whole, responsible, spiritually mature human beings who do not run away from life. 

We go on in the book to talk about the inevitability of problems in life and how that the key to mental and spiritual growth is to lean into them instead of, in one way or another, always running away from them. Agreeing with M. Scott Peck that four life disciplines are the key to responding well to life’s inevitable problems, we endeavor to teach couples how they can use these biblically supported life disciplines to overcome the five big issues that cause many marriages to go off the rails: communication issues; division of responsibility issues, financial issues, in-law issues, and sexual intimacy issues. 

Though our marriage isn’t perfect, and I’m certainly not a perfectly whole, responsible, spiritually mature human being, I’m a much better man for having been married to Patti, and I’m not afraid to say so. 

I wonder if President Obama feels the same about his wife Michelle? If so, that’s two things we have in common!

How about you? Is your marriage transformational in character? Do you want it to be? It’s never, never, never too late (or too early) to start the cultivation of a marital relationship that can help both you and your spouse become better, more fully human, more Christlike people. 

Don’t settle for just being married a long time (as good a goal as this is). Shoot for a truly healthy marriage that fulfills the purpose God has invested in it. Then you too can have something in common with the president … and me.

Something to think about. 


[1] Paul Tournier, The Meaning of Persons (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1957), 146.