From Vows to Eternity – Getting Married and Staying That Way

WHEN TWO PEOPLE MARRY, they marry for life. That’s the purpose of marriage isn’t it? I mean when you marry you don’t do it for a defined period do you? It is “for life”. We have not ever known a couple who married with the intention of it not lasting the rest of their lives, but if there were some, I would hazard a guess they are heading toward divorce, eventually.

Marriage is the period from vows to eternity; at least when one of you passes away. The duration of your marriage could be anything from a few months to seventy-plus years and it is easily the biggest commitment you will ever make. Think about it, everything that you do from the Wedding day on, stems from your marriage relationship, and the impacts of nearly all things you will do will always have to be considered.

Christian people believe marriage is a covenant agreement, meaning once we are married, we are bound to our marriage partner; it is more than a contract that can be broken if the “conditions” are not met-it is binding, forever! Having said that, there are very limited circumstances where breaking a Christian marriage may be necessary. For instance, ongoing abuse with no sign of remorse and seeking help.

Many people believe in God, and this is the unique perspective from which we want to share with you! And even if you do not believe in God, what harm will it do to continue reading this little article? It may provide something for you to think on?

We believe good marriages are built. They are constructed and maintained; always attended to. It takes commitment one-day-at-a-time for the rest of our lives-we believe we will never attain perfection in our marriage and we can tell you that brings us an enormous amount of comfort; yes, we are glad. It takes a commitment to learning about each other and serving each other; that the other may be placed ahead of the self. This sounds easy in theory, and we believed it would be, but it is entirely different placing our partner in the “better” position to ourselves in practice.

Marriage is mostly about commitment. Commitment in marriage is welded with Passion and Intimacy-see the book “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” about this “love triangle” and how critical it is to focus on all three sides. Whilst it is important to recognise that passion will wax and wane, and for that matter intimacy too, commitment is something that has to be non-negotiable and unconditional right throughout the marriage. We are told, and we believe, that there will be “dry times” in our marriage that will mean our relationship could need to survive on commitment alone. We (and you) need to be ready! If two people stay committed to marriage, and any significant issues are dealt with, the marriage will last the distance.

It is also important to always do the right thing in marriage no matter the cost, having faith that all the little things will add up to a wonderful harvest of love and a rich marriage relationship.

Troubleshooting marriage problems before they become issues. We feel quite strongly that we will always require help in our marriage. As we mentioned before, this brings us comfort because it takes some of the pressure off. Many people are into personal life coaching today, and similarly, we have a “marriage coach”. Our coach is a counsellor but we use her as a coach for frequent pulse checks. This is particularly important in the first few years of marriage, and also wherever there is significant change in the family unit, for instance, when a baby is born. Many things can be said in the “safety” of a coaching/counselling environment without the fear of the issue (and all marriages have “issues”) degenerating into an argument.

Marriage is about communication. It is listening and understanding every word our partner is not saying. It is paying attention to not only the words, but also the tone, the body language, and the mood. Paying attention to the unique way to love your partner and not overstep their boundaries are both vital to sustaining a great marriage. The “Love Languages” and “Boundaries” books recommended are there to assist you.

Marriage is about choosing to believe the best in each other. It is critical to the operation of any relationship, and marriages in particular, to know that our partner is not there just to make us happy. It is very important that our happiness should be derived from our self-concept and also from God-who can make anyone happy in any circumstance-history has proven this over again. Do not look to your partner to do what no-one can do other than yourself; that is to choose to be happy and be responsible for yourself. The book “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” mentions a habit that we commend to you; it is “the habit of happiness”.

Forgiveness. Every marriage partner should remember three words-not just, ‘I love you,’ but ‘Please forgive me’ and the reciprocal three words, ‘I forgive you’. Forgiveness and grace in marriage is absolutely essential. Without it you and your partner will often feel shipwrecked and lost. Forgiveness is sweet and refreshing to the soul of both partners, and it is life to any marriage, and any relationship for that matter!

You have an assignment: That is to be the object lesson of a faithful person so your children, friends and family, also get the blessings you’re getting. Focus on it, and loving your partner, as if your very life depends on it, because it does!

Finally, it would be remiss of us to not send you, a most lovely and blessed married couple, the blessing of God through our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ…

May He, God, remain the central figure in your relationship together. May you never take each other’s love for granted, but always experience that wonder that exclaims out of all the world, ‘you have chosen me,’ and when life is done, may you be found then as now, hand in hand, still thanking God for each other, and may you serve Him happily, faithfully together until Christ returns in glory, OR, until at last one shall lay the other to rest in the arms of the Saviour. All this through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

© Copyright 2008, Steven John Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Books we recommend:

“Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” (“SYMBIS”) – Seven Questions to Ask Before-and After-You Marry, Expanded & Updated Version, by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, 1995 & 2006 (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan). Called a practical self-guided pre-marital counselling course, it is also very good for married couples. It involves seven questions to ask before-and after-you marry. Questions deal with marriage myths, love styles, the habit of happiness, mean what you say-say what you mean, bridging the gender gap, how to fight a good fight, and being a soul mate.

“Intended for Pleasure” – Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage, by Ed Wheat, M.D., and Gaye Wheat, Third Edition, 1981, 1997, 2005 (Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan). A great book to learn “how to” have sex; also an excellent troubleshooting guide as sex can be harder (i.e. satisfying for both of you) than you think!! It is a good starting point in your sexual exploration and discovery of each other. Tim LaHaye writes, “The most medically accurate description of sexual function… available today… presented in wholesome terms that would be of help to any married or soon-to-be married couple.”

“Five Love Languages, The” – How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, Gary Chapman, 1992, 1995 (Northfield Publishing, Chicago). This series of books has saved many a family and breathed life into many a marriage. The five love languages are 1) Quality time, 2) Words of affirmation, 3) Gifts, 4) Acts of Service, and 5) Physical touch. Do you know your partner’s preferred love languages? You should! You’ll learn to speak and understand the unique languages of love, effectively expressing your love, as well as feel truly loved in return.

“Boundaries” – When to Say Yes; When to Say No; Take Control of Your Life, Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend, 1992, 1996, 2004 (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan by special arrangement from Strand Publishing). Boundaries are healthy in all relationships; marriage is no exception. This book guides people on setting up physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual boundaries. At times Christian people try so hard to please people that they forget their own limits and limitations, and how to wisely manage their own needs. This book is a “how to” for considering boundaries in all your relationships. Newly married couples have a lot of boundary setting to do… partner, parents, parents-in-law, children etc.

The Art of Marriage

A good marriage must be created.

In marriage the little things are the big things.

It is never being too old to hold hands.

It is remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once a day.

It is never going to sleep angry.

It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.

It is standing together and facing the world.

It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.

It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.

It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.

It is not only marrying the right person.

It is being the right partner.

Wilferd A. Peterson.

This poem was included in a 1961 anthology published by Simon & Schuster, USA, and copyrighted in the name of Wilferd A. Peterson.

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