What was the most important part of your marriage ceremony, and if you're not married yet what are you planning to be the most important part of your wedding ceremony? Undoubtedly, the entire ceremony as a whole is important, but the part where vows are exchanged should be esteemed as the climax of the ceremony! Why? Because the entire covenant of the marriage is being set before God, husband and wife, family, and friends.
At the heart of voicing marriage vows we are saying no matter what happens we are going to stay together and quitting is not an option. If that's the case then why do so many marriages fail? For the remainder of our time I'd like to discuss a few things I think ruin our marriage vows and ultimately ruin our marriages.
MARRIAGE VOWS MATTER !It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “it is not the love that sustains the marriage, but the marriage that sustains the love,” so it’s God’s desire and mine to see flourishing marriages that sustain love!
In monogamous marriages where one man is join to one woman the wedding vows are solidifying faithfulness to the person you are creating the covenant. Infidelity can happen in many ways, and it can be physical, emotional, or even virtual. Many of us get love and lust confused, so what’s the difference?
- Loving someone is unconditional and proved through unselfishness.
- Lusting someone is conditional and cultivated through selfishness.
For instance, when a married man seeks pornographic material to fulfill sexual desires he is ultimately focused on his own needs being fulfilled. In focusing on himself, he is automatically saying in that moment, “I don’t care about the covenant I made with God and my wife, I don’t care about the woman/women being objectified, and it’s all about me getting satisfaction.” Ultimately, if sexual desires aren’t being fulfilled by this man’s spouse he will seek other places to be satisfied.
A woman can also fall into lust with to marry a man, and we see this happen often when a man is wealthy. Countless women choose to stay in relationships with abusive dictator type men because they can have material things in abundance. They are in love with money and what it provides, and lust after the men who possess it. Ultimately, if the money goes, so does the relationship.
How do we overcome lust, and fulfill our marriage vows? First, we must be faithful to God because if husband and wife remain in an intimate relationship with God their hearts will remain in humility. Humility helps us to not think of ourselves higher than what we really are, and it helps us to unselfishly put the well-being of our spouses before ourselves. Secondly, husband and wife must seek God together by praying together, studying scripture together, and using their marriage to glorify God through a local Church. Lastly, husband and wife must set healthy boundaries for their marriage through edifying communication. I honestly believe many marriages can avoid the pain and hurt of experiencing infidelity by building stronger communication.
Those of us that profess to be Christian God dealt with lust in the death of Jesus. Sin no longer condemns me if I am a Christian. Not only that, sin no longer enslaves me, and I don’t have to lust. I am not the old me that has to lust. Sin loses its power because I am now united to Jesus who is my life. Now I can see how lust is offering me a counterfeit joy, a counterfeit pleasure, and a counterfeit satisfaction. I have what I need in Christ and I am complete in Him.
We can probably spend our entire time focusing on how communication problems ruin our vows. Many problems can be solved or even avoided by couples knowing how to properly communicate with each other. Relationships go wrong when words are being said, heard, but not understood. Not too many would willingly marry someone who speaks a totally different language then they do, but figuratively speaking it happens everyday. For instance, a man may think sending his wife flowers every week expresses love, but there’s a problem, his wife hates flowers. In order to not seem ungrateful or unloving she never tells her husband the truth. He only finds out the truth when the divorce is almost finalized that she just wanted to go on a date once a week rather than receiving flowers.
Our communication must be open, honest, and loving so vows are not ruined and our marriages destroyed. You convey one of two messages when your spouse is trying to communicate with you, and that is simply “I care” or “I don’t care.” If your spouse is talking to you, and you’re checking emails, watching television, or scrolling through social media what message are you conveying? On the other hand if your spouse is speaking to you, and you give them your undivided attention what message are you then conveying?
Husbands your wives long for you to communicate with her in a way that says, “I love you,” and wives your husbands long for you to communicate with him in a way that says, “I respect you.” If we took the time to communicate in ways to understand our spouses then I think many more marriages will be successful and vows will be fulfilled rather than ruined.
Every man has a God given responsibility to lead his wife and to lead her well. I think it’s first important for men and women to understand that no man will ever lead perfectly. First, a man must lead his woman to someone much greater than himself which is God. He can do this by studying the Holy Scriptures with her, praying with her, and leading her to worship God with others. Basically a man should disciple his wife, love her as the weaker vessel (not weak or incapable but as a precious delicate treasure), be patient with her, be kind towards her, pray with/for her, protect her with his life, and provide for her to the best of his abilities (spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally).
I personally think God created man first very intentionally. The man’s job was to tend to the perfect garden full of God’s perfect creation. Then after He saw man understood what it meant to labor to keep the garden beautiful He said, “now you can properly care for my daughter who means even more to me because she is made in my image.”
I think the fall of man came about because the first man failed to properly lead and disciple his helpmate, and I think we continue to fail miserably in the area of leadership as men. We desire to be be treated as kings, but our actions are more like school age boys. Ultimately, we put things over our spouses like video games, pornography, other people, work, education, and the list could go on and on. So where do we go from here?
Marriage was created with the purpose to glorify God almighty. Husbands we are to follow the example of the perfect leader, Jesus Christ. He showed us what it means to love our brides, and He gave His life as a sacrificial offering to redeem her (The Church). In the same way you are called to be a servant leader and lay down your life for your bride. This may not mean physically jumping in front of a bullet for her even though it could, but it means something much more. We are to take our vows seriously to do everything we can to cultivate beautiful marriages.
Wives, God looked at all the dumb things men were going to do, and He said, “it is not good for man to be alone,” haha! In all seriousness your role is very important, and you are not lesser than man. God created you from man’s rib, and ribs protect vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and liver. What i’m saying is us men need you, and we would not be the same without great helpmates to live in harmony with us.
Sit down over the next week to go revisit your vows with your partners, and if you have forgotten them create new ones. Make sure to keep your vows visible, and read through them often as a refresher to loving your spouse better. Don’t let things like lust, horrible communication, and weak leadership ruin such a good gift we have been given in marriage. I pray you all have successful marriages, and will be able to say I faithfully loved my spouse until death forced our parting.
Grace and Peace