I won’t mention names. They don’t matter. It’s the point that matters. It was just ten weeks ago that the huge wedding took place. They were meant for each other, the perfect couple. Her mother declared she had never seen her daughter so happy. But today the news is they are getting a divorce and discussing who gets what. Marriage is turned into another reality show instead of a commitment for life. Ten weeks, what a joke?
Too often we put more into having a fancy wedding than having a strong marriage. It doesn’t take much commitment or much integrity to have a beautiful wedding. It takes a great amount of love, maturity and grace to make a lasting marriage. When a nation glorifies glamour and can’t take their eyes off the superficial then we have a huge problem. When was the last time such attention was given to the couple that has been married for fifty or sixty years and still is deeply in love with each other?
Marriage doesn’t fit well with spotlights and smiling for the camera. In reality the marriage isn’t made in the public, but in what happens day after day, hour after hour when no one is looking. I’ve known lots of marriages that looked great in public where they were all smiles but were falling apart on the inside. The jokes about the couple who are arguing all the way to church, but immediately upon driving on the parking lot they are all smiles and putting their arms around each other talking about how great their marriage is are too often more reality than joke. When they return to the car the argument starts all over again.
Focus on what makes marriage last for a lifetime. Obviously, it takes devoted love, but it isn’t just the romantic love that makes the palms sweat and the feelings we can’t stand to be apart even for an hour. It may well be of greater importance to have that love that enjoys spending time together and knows the other partner is the best friend they have in the world. Perhaps the most important kind of love is that we keep the behaviorable love of I Corinthians 13:4-8. In the great love chapter of the Bible Paul described love as kind, patient, never rude, never keeping a record of wrongs done and never stopping. It was this love that Paul commanded husbands to constantly have for their wives, “As Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for it.” (Ephesians 5:25)
The lasting marriage is considerate of the other person and looks for ways to build the other one up. When couples delight in finding ways to cut each other down, especially in front of a crowd, something vital is missing. A person may declare it is all in fun and they know I don’t mean it, but the day will come when the other partner will wonder if they really have meant it all along. The laughter will stop and the armor of protection will be put on to make sure they don’t get hurt again. It won’t be long until they are far apart even when they are in the same room or the same bed. Peter described the action as being courteous to each other, refusing to return evil for evil, or insult for insult. Instead return a blessing, “For to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.” (I Peter 3:8-9)
It is vital if we want the marriage to last a life time that there be a huge amount of honor and respect in the marriage for each other. In Hebrews 13:4 it says that “Marriage is to be held in honor in all circumstances and the marriage bed is to be undefiled. But the sexually immoral and the adulterers God will judge.” Peter said, “Husbands dwell with your wife with understanding, giving honor to your wife as to the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life that your prayers may not be hindered.” Paul told the wives to show honor to their husbands in Ephesians 5. Honor isn’t just about words, but it is about words. If one doesn’t show honor in their words, the actions may seem weak. But honor words must be backed up with honor in the behavior.
In any marriage there are mistakes and failures. If we allow those mistakes to grow bigger and bigger in our mind they will fill all the space in our hearts, until someone else comes along to make new space for them. To keep the marriage full and growing it requires that we freely and quickly forgive and move on in our life. It may not be the case that you can completely forget it. But you can put it out of your mind and attention by focusing on the good in the marriage.
It is true that divorce becomes more and more common in life and the statistics of marriage and divorce don’t look good. But we ought to remember that the statistics may not lie but it is certainly true that liars use statistics regularly. Part of what makes the divorce statistics look so awful is that many have many marriages and divorces. There are tons of married couples that have been true and faithful to each other and together for years with no thought of divorce. There are also a multitude of couples who had a failure in a marriage but then married the person they are now married to and have built a tremendous marriage that last for the rest of their lives. We ought not to allow the actions of a few who are serial divorcers and marriers to determine our mental image of marriage.