She could not be more than 7 years old, with a bright smile and an expression that says, “I feel great!” reeled me in, there is something about the innocence of a child that is so appealing, no wonder why Christ said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me for such is the kingdom of heaven”. I was shocked when she said, “I just want to be the best bride in the world!” Where did that come from? It is always such a thrill when we are invited to a wedding, but now we question the relevance of marriage for good reasons, the answer is – marriages are still relevant.
There are many factors that contribute to a satisfying marriage such as; Love, Commitment, Trust, Time, Attention, Good Communication including Listening , Partnership, Tolerance, Patience, Openness, Honesty, Respect, Sharing, Consideration, Generosity, Willingness/Ability to Compromise, Constructive management of Disagreements/Arguments, Willingness to see another’s viewpoint, Ability and Willingness to Forgive/Apologise, Fun. The list is simple and obvious yet it can be very difficult for us to restore our marriage to a satisfying level when difficulties arise or when we drift apart.
In the United States, marriage has fallen upon particularly hard times. Fewer and fewer people are choosing to marry. In fact, less than half of current US households are made up of married couples. The percentage of Americans who have never married is growing while the number of couples living together without marrying is increasing exponentially. Meanwhile, more and more children are born to single mothers.
America still has the highest divorce rate among Western nations and the highest incidence of single-parent families of any industrialized nation. There’s no denying that the landscape of the American family has changed radically over the past fifty years and most countries because of social media are adopting the American way.
These statistics raise questions about the value and meaning of marriage in contemporary American culture. Given changes in reproductive technology, shifts in cultural attitudes about sexual morality, and the apparent failure of marriage as an ideal relationship has marriage become irrelevant?
Though it might seem so, sociologists Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Ueker recently reported that the American youth are as interested in marriage as at any time—more than 95% intend to marry someday. I will never forget the look on that little girl’s face, she was going to get married and she meant it.
WHAT ABOUT THE VOW?
We should approach marriage as a covenant, a relationship based on promises and commitment, not just feelings—though love is most certainly involved. The real issue is unless we educate persons about the reason for marriage and how important it is to our society, a selfish society cannot appreciate the true meaning of covenant.
The concept of marriage as a covenant is rooted in the Hebrew faith, and early Christians preserved the belief as well. God’s covenant with Israel was founded on his promise to be faithful to Israel. The Hebrew people promised faithfulness to God as well, it is said that they struggled, so the conversation was about a new covenant.
To speak of marriage as a covenant is to say that the partners make mutual promises about the way they will choose to live in the future, not just declarations of how they feel in the present. The endeavour to live into those promises—remaining faithful to their covenant—will shape their characters over the years.
Just imagine a society that took that approach to marriage, then we can appreciate the importance of marriage. It is common today when couples are struggling with their marriage, the term used is irreconcilable differences, is there such a thing or is it the hardening of our hearts that is triggering our behaviour?
This approach has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with taking a promise seriously, it has to do with preserving a concept that is outside of us, it is about remembering that love is not Hollywood, but a principle and not falling head over heels.
Christian or not, marriage is difficult for any couple to sustain over a lifetime. Life’s trials—the pressure of making a living, of parenting, of resisting temptations to unfaithfulness or selfishness—can strain any marriage.
But Christian marriage offers hope. The hope that a husband and wife, by intentionally choosing to learn how to love faithfully and sacrificially as Jesus did, may keep their covenant promises for a lifetime.