Everyone has their own reason for wanting to get married. Over the past seven years, I’ve had many. Nothing’s wrong with having personal reasons for desiring wedded bliss. Problems do arise, however, when we allow our reasons to overshadow God’s purpose for marriage.

When the marriage bug bit me after college graduation, my desires were strictly based on societal expectations. I went to college, grew up, and now it was time to get a job, a husband and some babies. My mom did it. My high school classmates were doing it. So why not?

My attempt at conforming to society’s expectations was the worst thing I ever could’ve done. I ended up in love with the idea of love and heartbroken because I couldn’t spiritually manipulate this boy into marrying me—a scared and lost little girl who just wanted to be love. Even worse, it took me four years to completely heal from the heartbreak I’d caused myself.

Recently, I found myself (sorta) considering marriage for financial security. By August of 2010, it had become evident that my teaching days were wrapping up. I believe work should accompany your purpose and be enjoyable, not just a way to pay the bills. So when I realized that my job had become a detour away from my purpose and I had to pray for the strength to get out of bed EVERY morning, I knew it was time to walk away. But what about my bills?

One morning as I merged onto Interstate 285, the solution came to me. I would find a rich, old man to marry. I would collect my riches, he would die, and I would still have time to find and enjoy my true love. While my moral code would’ve eventually kicked in and prevented me from doing this, plenty of women, and men, do so every day.

While permission to have sex isn’t a factor to many, some individuals still feel pressure to enter marriages in order to avoid sexual sin. After seven years of abstinence, I understand that it isn’t easy. There are days when my body literally feels like it’s about to explode (usually when I combine Beyonce’s 4 CD with ovulation *straight face*). And in these moments I absolutely find myself asking God where the hubby is.

While sex is one of the marital benefits I plan to thoroughly enjoy, I don’t want it to be the reason I get married. It’s unfortunate that religious institutions would pressure people into covenant relationship before they’re ready. I don’t think that is what God had in mind for marriage. In fact, I think we get so caught up in our wants, desires, and checklists for marriage that we forget God’s purpose for it.

When God established the institution of marriage in Genesis 2, He did so with a clear purpose.

But still there was no helper just right for him. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

“At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone,
and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
because she was taken from ‘man.’”

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. (Genesis 2:20-24)

After giving Adam the earth and all of its creatures, God realized that Adam was still alone. So He created Eve to be Adam’s companion and helpmate. Marriage was designed to ensure individuals had companions to relate to and partners to accomplish God’s plan with. This lets me know if a man is ever to leave his family in order to cling to me, we have to be two things to each other: friends and partners.

I know people who are married to individuals who they don’t like but are passionate about. Unfortunately, you can’t really be friends with people you don’t like. Other folks have entered marriages with people who have different long-term goals. They’ve promised “til death do us part” to each other, but they pursue goals and career paths that led them in separate directions. That’s not partnership.

If marriages are going to be successful, then individuals must be friends who are committed to working together to accomplish what God placed them on the earth to do. If we enter the institution of marriage on a broken foundation, how do we expect it to survive when stormy winds show up? From this point forward, the word husband will be synonymous with the words friend and partner in my vocabulary.