“I, Patricia, do take you, Patrick, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony; to love, honor, respect, trust, cherish, encourage and support you according to God’s holy ordinance forsaking all others and keeping myself only unto you, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in joy and in sorrow, in failure and in triumph, from this day forward until death do us part.
Do you really mean for better or worse?
Who remembers Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and Sam-I-am’s relentless list of conditions under which green eggs and ham might be liked? In a box? With a fox? In the rain?
Are there conditions under which you will love your spouse?
“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is a 1977 pop-culture song about a couple making out in a car. The boy begs his girlfriend to go all the way. The girl demands that he marry her if they do. In the heat of passion, the boy promises to love her “to the end of time.” In the next verse, he is hoping for the end of time to come quickly, so he will not have to spend another minute with her.
What happens in marriage that takes couples from paradise to prison sentence? Why are there jokes like this: “There are three rings in every marriage: first the engagement ring, then the wedding ring and finally the suffering”?
Is love blind?
Virtually everyone who marries is under the influence of drugs which cause a euphoria indicated by silly smiles and glowing brides. The body produces several neurochemicals during courtship which drive us to want someone of the opposite sex. In fact, while in this phase, men’s testosterone levels drop and women’s increase. Women’s estrogen levels drop and men’s increase. We actually become more alike. Women may go hunting and men to the ballet.
You are “high on love.” The problem is that this is a feeling, and it will go away in about two to three years when the neurochemicals subside. Hence, we hear jokes such as “Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.”
Expecting this feeling to last may lead to problems like not dealing with potential relationship problems because “love will get you through.” Remember, you are a sinner marrying a sinner. Your spouse will let you down.
Until death do you part?
Are there circumstances under which you would consider divorce? Various studies show the most common reasons for divorce include
lack of communication,
lack of commitment,
too much arguing,
marrying too young,
unmet needs and desires,
religious and cultural differences, and
substance or physical abuse.
What do you mean by “for better or worse … until death do us part”?
Is “happily-married” an oxymoron?
That depends on your expectations. If you expect your spouse to make you happy, then chances are you won’t find happiness in marriage. Your spouse should complement you, not make you whole. Happiness should not be contingent on marital status. If you are not whole at the outset, marriage will quickly disappoint you.
Conversely, when two emotionally whole people marry, they bond together to form a new “us” that is strong and can weather the rain and storms of life together. Us sees purpose in God-honoring lives. Us sees themselves as a team working together to overcome the attacks of the enemy. Us lives through the ebbs and flows described in Ecclesiastes 3: 4, such as “a time to weep and a time to laugh.” Solomon concludes this list in verses 12-13, saying, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil — this is the gift of God.”
Yes, God wants us to be happily married. That not is accomplished by finding a mate to make you happy, but rather by toiling together and enjoying the fruits of your labor. God created us to be His image-bearers and to fill the earth and rule over it and everything in it (Genesis 1:27-28). That is where our happiness is found.
Further, God calls us to build our marriages on the Rock. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27 NIV).
What will you build your marriage on? Will you love each other in the rain?
Patricia Hartman: CPA/partner at Kofsky, Hartman & Weinger, PA. www.khwcpa.com, is author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement: The Power of Marriage Unleashed” available at www.ChristianPrenuptial.com. Twitter @CPrenuptial.