My husband Guy and I included a very unromantic statement in our wedding vows. Vows that we wrote ourselves and made to one another seven years ago this past week.
When we stood before family and friends, we admiringly echoed our vows to each other, and when the “unromantic” part came, one of our groomsmen laughed. Out loud. It caught him off guard, I'm sure.
See if you can tell where the laughter part came:
I love you AMBER, and I thank the Lord every day for the love that has bound our hearts together in this spiritual fellowship of marriage. He has blessed me and entrusted to me your life as an unearned gift, a gift I pledge to never take for granted. Through the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future, I promise you my deepest love, my fullest devotion and my most tender care. I will love you in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, and in sorrow as in joy. I promise I will not divorce you. I promise to love, guide, cherish and protect you as Christ does his church as long as we both have life.
I love you GUY, and I know you love me. I thank the Lord every day for the love that has bound our hearts together in this spiritual fellowship of marriage. He has blessed me with your leadership and I will follow and submit to you by God’s grace. Through the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future, I promise you my deepest love, my fullest devotion and my most tender care. I will love you in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, and in sorrow as in joy. I promise I will not divorce you. I promise to be trustworthy as your wife, to love and serve you as the helper God designed me to be and to encourage you, serving you in all circumstances as long as we both have life.
Did you catch it? I will not divorce you.
We said it out loud, in front of all our guests, families, and God.
I think it's often assumed when a couple stands at the altar exchanging looks of love, that they don't ever intend to divorce, but the statistics don't lie. Guy and I knew going into marriage that it was not about fairytale endings. It was about love, yes, but it was about commitment, people. Commitment. And so we spoke it, knowing that we would be held accountable for what we promised that beautiful day.
I believe in passionate, deep, abiding love between a man and a woman. But I also know that life is full of challenges that God allows for our refinement. Marriage is a picture between God and His love for His Bride, The Church. He's committed to us even when we stray. He never gives up on us. Guy and I knew that as unlikely as it may have seemed in our pre-wedding giddiness, that we would need to think back on our vows and know that we said out loud, crystal clear, that we would not divorce one another. Period.
We are so glad we did. Because the struggles do come. The tempter tries to undo what God has joined together, and he is good at it. We would need to remember that we gave our word. That everyone we cared about most in our lives, heard it. God, heard it. I will not divorce you.
And since we know that we are in it for the long haul, we work hard to make it the best and most loving relationship that we can possibly make it. And when we fail at that, time and time again, we remember that God doesn't divorce us. And we hang on to that love, we seek to imitate that love, and we begin to feel and give one another that love.
And I do not say this with a smirk or with glee or with any sort of “well there you have it” attitude, but with sadness, when I say this:
That laughing groomsmen married his love a few years later. And then they divorced.
Friend, if today you find that you have struggles common to man, if you find that you give love and love is not returned, if you wonder why you signed up for this, and if that romantic and hopeful kind of healthy marriage seems far out of reach, then begin with commitment.
Matthew 19:6, So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.
Set the idea of separating from one another out of your mind forever. Seek to relinquish your own rights to having your needs met, and honor God by loving unconditionally just as God does towards us. Ask God to restore to you a marriage that embodies what He designed it to be knowing you can count on Him to answer. But that will never happen if you end your marriage. Renew your promise to your spouse and to God because you can never go wrong by doing what is right. Trust that when you obey, joy will follow. Love will follow. And maybe, the kind of laughter God intended all along.
YOUR TURN! What was special to you about your wedding vows? How do you find ways to strengthen your marriage commitment? What is the biggest blessing in your marriage?
(I know and understand that there are Biblical allowances for divorce, as well as situations that are dangerous and abusive facing some spouses. This post is not speaking to those particular circumstances, but rather to the spouse who is going through fairly typical yet overwhelming conflicts in marriage with a reasonable spouse.)
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. Psalm 115:1
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