Making It Last…An Intentional Marriage. Honesty.

According to statistics on marriage from the Centers for Disease Control, based on information from 2011, the marriage rate in the United States is 6.8 per 1,000. The Divorce rate is 3.6 per 1,000 which supports the idea of the 50% divorce rate that many of us have heard about. The divorce rate for 2nd and 3rd marriages is higher still. This information is based on data collected from 44 states and the District of Columbia.

There are lots of reasons why marriages fail. Too young, unfulfilled expectations, infidelity, too much arguing, abuse, the list goes on. But how do we make one succeed? That’s what I really want to talk about. Many of us come from broken homes and have spent a big part of our lives missing at least one of our parents.  Are we doomed to make the same mistakes?  Is there a way that we can beat the statistics and have a marriage that endures?

vintage wedding photo

Last Saturday I skipped my blog post because I spent the day with my wife. We did the normal stuff…work-out, bank, store. We even tried a new restaurant. We had a really nice time just hanging out. As I was waiting in the car for her to come out of the bank, I was thinking about how much I was enjoying our time and how much I actually missed her. We both have lots of stuff demanding our attention and its pretty easy to get swept up in your own life and stop noticing what’s going on around you. I thought about the last 24 years with her and I was thankful that we have been able to get to where we are now and still enjoy being together as much as we do.

Marriage is one of the most amazing and rewarding relationships a person can have. It can also push a person to the absolute edge of misery. I have also been so angry at my wife that I have taken my hat off, thrown it at the ground as hard as I could, and then stomped on it.  I have also been so overwhelmed with feelings of love for her that I wept.

It’s important to understand what a marriage is. When I searched the definition in a Bing search, marriage was defined as a formal union between a man and a woman whereby they become husband and wife. Webster’s dictionary uses the word “United”. Wikipedia uses the verbiage “Legal contract that establishes rights and obligations”. It’s also defined more generally as a mixture or combination of two or more elements.

Marriage originated in the Bible. There it’s called a covenant. While most people may have heard that, many don’t actually understand what a covenant is. A covenant is a formal, solemn & binding agreement and based on promises and trust. Historically covenants have often been between clans, tribes & families, usually by the joining of sons & daughters in marriage. Covenants are seals by the shedding of blood and involve the swearing of an oath and the making of solemn promises to the other party, exchanging gifts and names. Many family names are the result of covenants made long ago.  Now days family names beginning with “Van” or “Mac” are common, but they probably started from a covenant. The covenant would be honored and respected by all the members of both families.

The significance and the actual strength of a covenant is found in the honesty and integrity of the people who enter into it. In the old days, violating the covenant was a serious offense often resulting in the death of the offender. People understood the gravity of the oath of a covenant. They didn’t want to break covenant, not just because of the potential consequences but also because of what the breaking of the covenant said about the breaker. Even if you lived, you would never be trusted again.

For us today to give ourselves the best possible chance at a long and happy marriage, we can’t be liars. Period.  You and I need to work tirelessly to make sure that the promises and oath that came out of our mouth does not fail. Our spouse has every right to expect this from us. It’s not a light thing that we entered into. When we stood up and made those promises, we gave our spouse an IOU, a promissory note to pay, with the intent that you and I would spend the rest of our life making our word come true.

The problem often arises when one spouse thinks the other is not fully committed or not upholding their end of the commitment. Then that spouse begins to let their own commitment wane. Truthfully, even if your spouse is “Just phoning it in”, If you are a person of integrity, you will keep your word. That is the sign of a true covenant promise.

If he has a need, if she has a need and you can fulfill it.
Do it.
Don’t even ask why.
That’s why you are married to each other.
To serve each other.

–  www.inspirational-motivational-quotes.com

I invite you this week to press the pause button on your life for a little while and have a real and honest look at your word. Are you honest? Does your word have integrity? Or are you only “situationally honest”, with your desire to keep your word depending on the way your spouse is acting toward you?  Remember, you’re not only lying to them when you tell an outright lie, you are also lying to them when you fail to keep your promises.  When you married, you said to your spouse the best things you could say.  Get behind your words and from now on, make them true.

I Still Do image

What do you think are some of the more difficult areas to keep your word in marriage? I would love for you to join the conversation by leaving a comment. Also, if you have found this helpful and think it could help someone else, please consider sharing.

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