For many of us, the vows we take on our wedding day are the most important promises we will ever make, or at least so we say. It is our responsiblility to think hard about those promises long before and long after the ceremony, not just on the day we stand before the altar.
The language may be old-fashioned, but the idea these words convey will always be crucial to the success of the marriage. It is worth lingering over the familiar phrases: "in sickness and in health," "in sorrow and in joy," "forsaking all others," "till death us do part." They remind us that the marriage ceremony is not only a time of joy, but it is also a commitment made reverently and soberly before God.
Your wedding day is the most joyous day of your life. As you stand before the altar you have mixed emotions- joy, happiness, sadness, nervousness, and even fear. There are so many thoughts running through your mind, but with all that is going on, all your thoughts, everything that is being said to you...thoughts of sickness, sorrow and death aren't among them. When we get married, we know what the vows say about for better or worse, but we honestly don't believe that "worse" really applies to us. We envision a "fairy tale" marriage where everyone lives happily everafter. The reality of it is that it just isn't so.
When I stood on my wedding day and promised to love, honor, and cherish my husband in sickness and in health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer; never in my wildest dreams did I have any idea that I would really have to face times other than "health", "better", "richer" - but I did.
The kind of job my husband does has periods where it is very unstable. He has been laid off more times than I can remember. I know what it's like to walk through the "for poorer" part of our vows. Imagine having a one year old child, building a new house, moving in it, and two weeks later your husband (who happens to be the sole provider) gets laid off work for eleven months. Times were tight. The lack of money can wear on a marriage worse than anything else. Finances are the major reason for marital problems today.
While I was standing before the altar making my vows to my husband, before God, the minister, and the company of witnesses, the big "C" word was the farthest thing from my mind. Would I have rethought the vow I was about to make had I known that fourteen years into my marriage my husband would be diagnosed with cancer? Who ever really believes that when we make a vow for "better or worse", that worse might be exactly what we get?
There were so many things that we faced during his illness (I'd have to write a book to be able to tell you about it all), the treatments, no insurance, no job, etc. Talk about "for worse". But thank the Lord, my husband survived and is cancer free. And my marriage survived.
About six years later, he had a blockage to his heart. This required surgery. He is still on medication and sees his cardiologist on a regular basis.
I'm sure we all have a story to tell of how things weren't as rosey in our marriage as we thought they were going to be when we stood there on our wedding day gazing starry eyed at the one we were promising to spend the rest of our lives with. As our opening statement said, "We need to think hard about those promises long before and long after the ceremony."
Do I regret marrying my husband, would I have changed my mind if I had known things were going to be like they were? (No, I would marry him all over again.) What kept us together even when things were almost unbearable at times? My love for God. When I made my vow to my husband, I made it before God. I put God first in my marriage, He was the One who kept me commited. I could have ran from it, but I always found that His grace was sufficient for me. I know that many marriages haven't survived and it wasn't because they loved God any less than I did, sometimes there are things that are beyond your control to reconcil, no matter how hard you try. The point I am trying to make is that there are many marriages that could have been saved, divorces that could have been prevented if we took a closer look and really thought about just what we were making a vow to. Many times the marriage doesn't last because we are disallusioned going in to it. We think that it's going to be great, no problems, just lovie, lovie, huggy, huggy, kissie, kissie.
There are two main ingredients to keeping your marriage together- 1) put God first, 2) be committed to the vows you made to your spouse, even if it's "for worse."