In today's Western world, we often find a similar situation. A great many “Danny's” and “Mary Jane's” regard the physical pleasure of marriage as a reason to embark upon matrimony. This is a basic error in the purpose of matrimony.
Man was created with a body which enjoys the physical side of marriage in order to enhance the spiritual bond between husband and wife, which is a source of far greater pleasure once the couple have worked to develop it and nurture its growth.
As children, people think that the yogurt is just a means to serving chocolate syrup, and the cheese is on the cracker so that Mary Jane can enjoy her chocolate sprinkles. This kind of reasoning is normal when we are young. Hopefully, we will progress to a fuller, more mature understanding as adults. Indeed, if a grown-up continues to choose his diet as though enjoying chocolate is the main reason for consuming food, he will soon fall victim to disease and disability.
Similarly, if a couple embarks on matrimony with the assumption that the only tie which unites them is the physical pleasure of being husband and wife, it will not be long before their marriage is plagued by disease and disability. This erroneous approach will prevent them from investing their efforts in the main goal of marriage: building an ever-deepening bond of love and trust between them.
Today's unprecedented rates of divorce are testimony to the fact that Western society has a warped image of what marriage is meant to be. So much so, that the institution of marriage itself no longer commands respect.
Many couples unknowingly forfeit a far greater reward of marriage, namely the joys of trusting companionship and joint achievement in building a home and a family through their joint efforts. They fail to realize that as they strengthen the emotional and spiritual bond between them, they will find pleasure in the Platonic aspect of the love they share.
Even a cursory glance at today's media suffices to reveal the dreams, drives, and ambitions of modern society focus on one goal: “Enhance your experience of love!”
Consider how we use condiments and spices to flavor our food. Salt is surely a good thing, as anyone on a salt-free diet will tell you. So, too, is sugar a great boon to the menu. It's there to sweeten a cup of tea, for instance, but no one will suggest that “the more, the better.” Too much salt will ruin the finest delicacy. Repeated overdoses of sugar will not only be unpalatable, but also harmful to our health. Salt, pepper, rosemary, basil, and all the rest are not meant to be used as foods in their own right, but as flavorings to be added − in carefully measured amounts − to a far greater quantity of foodstuffs which constitute the dish being prepared.
At their best, the interactions between husband and wife should be similar. While it is true that humans can find enjoyment in the physical bond alone, this is a poor substitute for the richness of a good marriage. Such a couple is missing out on the finest, most rewarding facet of matrimony. Their bond is based on self-love, not a desire to give to another. Just as too much sugar can make a dish unpalatable, so, too, can a tie between husband and wife based solely on a physical relationship lead to a sense of repulsion instead of love.
King Solomon expressed it succinctly:
When you find honey, eat what is sufficient for you, lest you be satiated with it and vomit it up. (Proverbs 25:16)
A person who makes a meal of honey alone will feel ill as a result. The same principle applies to the relationship between husband and wife. If the couple exploits the physical pleasure of marriage to excess, their pleasure − and the bond between them − will diminish with time rather than be enhanced.
Ideally, the marriage should join the couple through strong ties of affection for each other. The more they give to each other, the more concerned each is with the welfare of his or her spouse, the stronger their bond will become. Together, they will develop a pattern of living which makes life a pleasant experience for them both. The home they establish together will be a warm nest of harmony and giving to others, an ideal environment for raising children. Their offspring will have the advantage of a warm home, a nest in which they can grow and develop without tension and distress. Above all, their home will be characterized by a spirit of devoted, affectionate giving to one another.