“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today,” are the words most every married couple has heard at the beginning of their wedding ceremony. Millions of weddings have been performed and witnessed, however a beautiful ceremony may not be the beginning of a beautiful marriage. It’s been said that a wedding takes approximately 20 minutes, but a marriage takes a lifetime. For hundreds of years two people have come together, with thousands not abiding together. One preacher has said, “Some stay together for years, but have been apart many of those years.” This article begs the question, “What keeps two people “together?”
Having been a pastor now for the past 11 years, I have performed multiple wedding ceremonies, sat in premarital counseling sessions and performed marital counseling when an issues(s) have presented themselves. I must say that it is not enjoyable in any form to watch a marriage fall apart…for ANY reason. I have asked the question more than once, “What happened?” What happened to cause these two people who were once so in love and made an eternal commitment to one another, now to decide reconciliation is not possible? Sure there are many reasons people give, but what about the vows taken on that day…to love…in sickness and in health…for richer or for poorer…for better or for worse?
I ask in premarital counseling classes, “What is your deal breaker?” What I mean is, what is the one thing done that will cause you to file divorce papers to end your marriage? I have received various answers, but not once have I heard, “Nothing.” It is at the asking of this question, I am then presented with a history from the individual. The history is something that has been done and caused an insurmountable hurt to them. Something they have been unable to heal from and now are carrying that pain into their new relationship. They already have an expectation of it being repeated.
So, my question remains, “What keeps two people together?”
Asking this question and being a pastor, my target audience is, of course, Christian. Two people, who are believers and have a servant attitude toward Christ enter into wedlock with the intentions of it being until death. I assure you that no marriage, including a Christian one is safe from the enemy. No marriage is safe from the attacks of the liberal minded society we live in. So what causes two Christian people to give up on their marriage? They may never seek a legal divorcement, due to their beliefs, however it does not negate a divorce has already taken place in the emotions and in the spirit of one another. They live under the same roof and occupy the same functions, yet are as far from one another as two people can be emotionally and spiritually. Oh, how they once attended church together, as one. How they sang the songs of worship together as a couple. They served their Lord as a united front, but now…they are separated. Separated by what? What has happened that has caused such a great divide?
I am convinced that the enemy, which is Satan, has a vehement hatred toward the marriage. Why? According to Ephesians 5, the marriage is a direct representation of the relationship of the church and the Lord Jesus Christ. By destroying the marriage, he attacks the church and Christ. He mocks, he snickers, he laughs in the face of God when one after another, Christian marriages fall apart. For years they have pretended, only to completely falter.
Marriage, in itself, takes effort. The Christian marriage takes even more effort, because they are under fire, not only physically and emotionally, but also spiritually. Faults will be made and mistakes committed. Repentance and forgiveness are musts in a marriage, especially the Christian marriage. Forgiveness, at times is spoken, but not acted upon. Some times this is because it is difficult to move on, but at other times, true repentance has not been exercised. Repentance in a marriage is an absolute importance. It’s not just about saying, “I’m sorry,” and the offender now thinking all is well. I’m sorry is only a beginning step and it is a small step at that. Repentance involves a complete 180 degree turn from the offense committed with the whole-hearted effort to not commit the offense again. It’s not about being perfect, but it is about being committed. Transgressions come in all shapes and sizes with some being large and others being small. They all, however carry hurt. Imagine being stabbed with a knife. Yes, that would hurt, but you would heal. Now imagine being stuck with a needle everyday in the same spot. After a year, which would you rather have done? The knife wound would have healed in a month maybe, but the wound from the needle continues to reopen the wound.
It doesn’t have to be adultery to destroy a marriage, but adultery is the only justifiable reason given by the Lord in Matthew 19. Although He does provide this, it is NOT the Lord’s will for ANY marriage to end. That being said, He does not give justification for other, smaller deeds that have chipped away at trust in the relationship. My question stands, “What keeps two people together?”
Many answers may be provided such as, love, hard work, determination, effort and etc. Let me say this though, hard work can keep a car running that keeps dying on you, but how long before you either sell it or just park it? Some divorce, while others just “park” their marriage.
I am no expert at marriage and being married now for 28 years has not afforded me the answer to the question I have asked more than once in this article. Remaining together is not any indication that two people are still madly in love or in some cases even still like one another. It could simply mean they are just stubborn. Sometimes, two people, if they believe in love and believe in marriage, they must find a way to revisit the altar of the marriage. It is a revival, so much like that of the straying believer that returns to the altar of their salvation. They each must relearn, maybe what it is about the other that brought them to the altar in the first place. Then they must remember what it was that made them so willing to give up an individual life to share life with another.
Maybe the reason the two have drifted apart is not because of the storms of life or the trials or another person or even the person themselves. Maybe, just maybe it is because God has been made secondary to everything else.
In His Service,
2 Cor. 12:9