No matter who you are, almost every adult man has attended a wedding ceremony and watched as the nervous couple listened intently as the reverend, minister, or pastor had the couple repeat after him the traditional marital oath:
“Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love and to cherish, for better or for worse, rich or for poorer, sickness or in health, ’til death do you part?”
I bring this up because my 19-year-old son recently asked me a question. He asked, “Dad, when couples recite their vows on their wedding day, do they actually mean them?”
And I said, “Yeah son, they do.”
And of course, his response was expected. He said, “Then why do so many marriages end in divorce like your’s and Mom’s?” He was referring to my 16-year marriage to his mom that ended in divorce when he was 10.
After picking my ego off the floor, I humbly told him, “Because when it comes to marriage there are many reasons marriages fail, but the #1 reason most do is because many of us have selective hearing. We hear what we want to hear, not actually what is being said. In other words, we choose to love each other until instead of in spite of.”
Allow me to explain.
We recite our marriage vows, and in our hearts, we really believe we mean them. But the truth of the matter is, what we really mean is we will love each other until something better comes along; you stop making me happy; you stop listening to me; times get too hard; you gain too much weight; you fail to meet my expectations; you cheat on me; you won’t submit, etc. And we fail to love each other in spite of sickness, poverty, bad times, the storms of life, unmet needs, etc.
Most of us are so caught up in the moment of the wedding ceremony, that all we hear are the words, BETTER, RICH, HEALTH, and happily ever after. I know they don’t say that last part, but for some reason, that’s what we hear.
However, for some reason, we fail to hear the words: WORSE, POOR, SICKNESS, and DEATH. Could you imagine, what if after the couple said “I do,” the minister would say, “Before you answer ‘I DO,’ let me be more specific.“
I mean, “Do you promise to love and cherish her if she nags you more than she nurtures you; complains more then she comforts you? Shops more than she cooks? Refuses to have sex with you whenever you desire it? What if she disrespects you? What if she disagrees with your decisions and undermines your authority with the children? What if she doesn’t support your dreams?”
Oh, I’m not finished yet.
“How about if she neglects the children? She puts the family in debt with reckless spending? Doesn’t get along with your Mom or your friends? If she’s physically unable to take care of herself? If she has an affair? If she does whatever you fear the most? Would you love her til DEATH do you part?”
After I said all of that, my son looked at me and said, “Dad, if a man said ‘I do’ to all of that, he must really love her.”
Because real love is eternal, it doesn’t come with an expiration date. I told my son that marriage reveals the true strength of our love, not only for our wife, but it also reveals the true strength of our wills. Marriage isn’t something that should be taken lightly, and there’s a severe price to pay when we do. Love is a decision, not just warm feelings. Because real love is eternal, it doesn’t come with an expiration date.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why is loving people hard?”