What’s next in society’s efforts to justify selfishness?
In commemoration of the new year, the New York Times is running a series of articles under the heading “A Sustainable Life: The Week in Review’s guide to a healthier, happier 2011.”
Apparently a healthier, happier marriage is most desired, for “The Happy Marriage is the ‘Me’ Marriage” heads the list of “Most e-mailed.”
Author Tara Parker-Pope writes that “the notion that the best marriages are those that bring satisfaction to the individual may seem counterintuitive. After all, isn’t marriage supposed to be about putting the relationship first?”
Parker-Pope argues that a strong marriage is a relationship that enriches the lives of each partner with the idiosyncrasies of the other. Quoting Dr. Lewandowski, professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, Parker-Pope says that self-expansion, gaining experiences and knowledge from a relationship, may result in a more sustainable marriage.
Dr. Leandowski’s co-researcher, psychologist Dr. Arthur Arnon of Stony Brook University, adds that self-expansion creates a new ‘you’: “You go from being a stranger to including this person in the self, so you suddenly have all of these social roles and identities you didn’t have before.”
Parker-Pope writes that “the new relationships [of students in love] [have] literally broadened the way they [look] at themselves,” but this expanded perspective of oneself seems true of any human relationship: between friends, siblings, family, and colleagues. Each relationship shows us something different about the world. In addition, we’re often told that good friends induce good habits while bad friends induce bad habits. The entire process of maturing as a human being in this world is based on relationships.
So why make the best marriage one that benefits the individual?
In analyzing the characteristics of the most sustainable, self-fulfilling marriage, this article suggests that instead of looking for the good of the other, each should try to extract personal benefits from the relationship. Of course you want a happy marriage and a happy life. But that’s not all that God asks of us. The Christian life is not one in pursuit of happiness alone but one that desires and seeks the advancement of God’s kingdom and glory.
Is a “healthier, happier 2011” all we want? What about a year of growing in godliness?
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Isaiah 60: 1-3