June 13, 2011

“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part.”

If you are or have been married chances are you repeated the above vow as you looked into those eyes of your future spouse. Ever wonder where this marriage vow came from? You might find it interesting to know that it is a product of a very long evolution and mixing of cultural heritages. It culminated in the Church of England, which continues to this day to maintain the vows that most people in modern America would likely identify with as being the “traditional” wedding vow.

My wife and I grew up believing that divorce was not an option and our parents having both been married for more than 55 years have set a wonderful example. We still believe that divorce is not an option in our lives and honestly after being married more than 25 years I cannot imagine throwing away all the time invested in my wife just to start the process all over again! Sadly, my wife and I are becoming a minority in our view of marriage and divorce with each passing year. Check the following statistics:

  • The divorce rate in America for the first marriage is between 45% to 50%.
  • The divorce rate in America for the second marriages is between 60% to 67%
  • The divorce rate in America for the third marriages is between 70% to 73%

Source of this Divorce Statistics: Jennifer Baker, Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, Springfield. Divorcestatistics.org

The statistics are clear and like most things in life, if we “cross the line” once it becomes easier to cross it again in the future. Obviously, “To have and to hold from this day forward …to love and to cherish until death do us part” is becoming more and more rare when it comes to marriage. Divorce is commonplace in America and it’s without a doubt one of the most destructive decisions that a couple can make. In fact, when it comes to children, divorce is one the most powerful “injuries” that parents will cause their kids.

One of the most common reasons for divorce today is infidelity and sadly I know many men who have been unfaithful. Some of these men walked away from their wife and kids, marrying their mistress and others chose to end the affair and re-build trust with their wife and children. Once infidelity takes place by either spouse scarring in the life of the other spouse and children will be with them the rest of their lives, but better a husband and wife rebuild their marriage than to walk away from it! This is without question!

God created marriage when he created Eve as Adam’s helpmate and the two became one flesh. The traditional marriage vow is not purely from Scripture, but it does rightly capture the truths of God’s Word. “Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6). According to I Corinthians 7:10-11 a wife must not separate from her husband. And if she does she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. Six chapters later in I Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul describes real love.

The traditional wedding vow stated at the beginning of this article will only be honored in a marriage if both husband and wife understand this kind of love and the commitment to hang in there regardless the circumstances …“for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” You know, you can’t always get your way (aka Irreconcilable differences) and that is why Paul tells men in I Corinthians 13:11 that we are “to put childish ways behind us.”

Men, it is time to hold!