“I, _____, take thee, _____, to be my wedded wife/husband, 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, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith.”
Do you really mean it? Is that a promise that you are really willing to keep? Do you really mean, “For better or for worse until death do we part?” it sounds nice on wedding day, but when the rubber meets the road and the worse come, do you stick to the promise? Give the high divorce rate and the number of couples that are secretly miserable, I have to suspect that “for better or for worse until death do we part” is only a cliché said during a ceremony. I have a lot of reason to believe that at least one in the marriage doesn’t truly mean what he or she purportedly promises on that great day of pomp and circumstance.
It is easy to be happy, kiss, make love, cuddle, and just have fun together when better days are present. However, if something tragic happens and the cloud rests above your relationship, then we’ll see who was really situationally agnostic. Many marriages are destroyed if a child is killed or becomes sick and dies. I know the strain that that can place on the relationship. My wife and I lost three children through miscarriages. When my wife became pregnant again, I knew that our marriage would probably be over if we lost this one. I thought that because I figured that would have been too much for her to cope with, not that she would have been upset with me or something. I figured we would have drifted apart because of the sorry the devastation of losing another child would have brought. Thank God. That did not happen and my son just graduated from high school and was accepted to attend Ringling College in Florida.
The worse can bring out the worse in people. The strain, stress, and depression can spawn a plethora of harmful thoughts that can devastate a marriage relationship. Therefore, “for better or for worse” really means “While better until worse.” There are many types of stresses that can destroy a couple’s relationship. A man may become devastated if he discovers his wife cannot have children or if the wife discovers the husband is incapable of producing children. Now what? It’s now “for worse.”
The solution to this situation is quite simple, though not easy to implement. Be committed. Realize that your spouse is a human being and commit to him or her. Commitment is situationally agnostic…even to infidelity. What I mean by that is that if you commit to something, you don’t abandon it because it gets too hard or things don’t go the way you hoped or thought they would. You remain committed to achieve the relationship that you desired or hoped for. You continue to work at it regardless of what comes up and regardless of the emotional shifts you’ll go through. Remain committed.
Remaining committed is an act of your will. You decide to remain committed even though your emotions (and perhaps others) are telling you otherwise. Remaining committed compels you to hold your ground in the relationship and fight for it. I’ve seen people who fought for their relationship. Their spouse may have moved out, but they remain committed. Commitment causes you to do things because they are the right thing to do in spite of how you feel. You ma want revenge or to let your spouse know how you really feel. However, you curb the angry outburst and instead deliver something that will be more productive to the relationship.
Commitment will keep you standing for your marriage relationship even if your spouse doesn’t. Commitment will keep you pursuing the relationship even if your spouse has checked out so to speak. Commitment will even keep you in the relationship, even if the spouse has cheated on you. What motivates commitment? What can help keep you committed to the relationship especially when the spouse is either not interested or is otherwise doing everything except investing in the relationship? I suggest you remain committed to God first. It is hard not to be committed to God so use that to your advantage. Being committed to God is the glue that keeps commitment open. So be committed to God and you have a much better chance of remaining committed to your spouse and relationship.
A major mistake that couples make is thinking that love is strong enough to weather the relationship storms. Love is not strong enough to keep a marriage strong. Love can fade. It is like a fire that you have to maintain to keep going. If you let it go without feeding it, then eventually the flames will die out and there will be no more fire. If that should happen, all that is needed is for someone to get more wood and rekindle the fire so that it starts to blaze again. The act of getting more wood to rekindle the fire is effect of commitment. Of course, it would be better to just keep wood on the fire so that it burns brightly consistently. Keep the commitment high by resolving within yourself regularly that you will keep the marriage going strong. The assumption here is that the marriage starts with passion, love, good times, etc.
The point to consider is that a strong and healthy marriage takes work just as a strong and healthy body takes work. You cannot do nothing to nurture the marriage relationship and then expect your spouse to be standing there with love and compassion in their eyes, so to speak, after many years of marital maintenance neglect. Be committed and keep love alive. Be committed and you will truly have a relationship that is for better and for worse.