A definition of a word gives it limits. It tells us what a word or expression can mean. This means that no other meaning is right.
In that way, definitions are like molds. If I cram a clump of clay into a mold, whatever doesn’t fit is cut off. Why? Because the mold gives parameters or limits to the clay. And the clay will always make whatever the mold is. If the mold is a toy train, then the clay will mold into that shape.
Humans always define themselves. And definitions are powerful. They tell us what we “mean” in life or what our purpose is. They are also like molds. We always live to the potential of how we define ourselves or what mold we put ourselves in. Always. What you believe about yourself is enormously influential in how you see yourself, how you think, what you expect, what you put up with, and how you behave.
Here’s a test. Finish this sentence as honestly and quickly as you can: “I will always be…”
(E.g., stressed out; sad; hopeful; plagued with boundary problems; the “good boy”; the slut; the cheerleader; the best friend; the supporting actor; the loser; the coach; the successful leader, etc.).
That’s your mold. That’s your definition of yourself. It can be a long or short; destructive or healthy; Christian or un-Christian.
Marriages also have definitions or molds. A healthy marriage exists when both persons hold a healthy definition/model for marriage. “My marriage is…” or “My marriage will always be…” or “My marriage is supposed to be this way because my marriage is…” Your definition/model of your marriage is the conceptual framework of your marriage. It’s how you label your marriage and what you expect from your marriage. Whatever it is, I guarantee that you are living out how you define your marriage because we always live according to how we define our marriages. Like the clump of clay, we will be shaped according to our self-imposed mold.
Really think about it:
- How do you define your marriage? What is your marriage “supposed” to be? What is your mold? (e.g., “…always be hard work”; “…always be unfulfilling”; “…always be growing and fulfilling”; etc.)
- Where did you get your model/definition for marriage? (e.g., Parents? Grandparents? Movies? T.V. shows? Books? Some cultural archetype? Elsewhere?) So many couples are simply repeating a model they experienced or rebelling against a model they experienced.
- Do you like or want that definition/mold that you have? Who says it’s right? Why or why not? If not, what will your new definition be?
The good news is, God wants to define your marriage in healthy, thriving terms. Take the time. Answer these questions with your spouse. Write your answers together and be absolutely sure that you define your marriage as you want to and not based on someone else’s definition or model for you. That’s what healthy marriages do.
What will you do to embrace your new definition/model?