Getting married is easy. It’s the staying married part that can be challenging!
By Steve Prokopchak
When we say, “I do,” we are never quite sure of what’s ahead. Thinking back over the many couples I have counseled, I can only begin to mention the various scenarios that those couples faced so unexpectedly. I recall, for example, loss of a child, failure of a business, an affair, depression, a life-altering accident or illness, addictions, extreme financial mismanagement, inability to become pregnant, just to name a few. For many of these couples, life felt completely overwhelming. I am disappointed to add that not all of them were strong enough to maintain their marriage vows and stay together.
Perhaps the challenges you have faced in marriage have not been this severe, but we all experience day-to-day irritants like piles of laundry, financial shortfalls, work demands, disobedient children, and ministry disappointments. In the tough times as well as the good times, we would do well to call to remembrance the vows that we spoke to one another, in God’s presence, which were witnessed by those who attended our wedding. Once we have made those vows, keeping them is key. Ecclesiastes reminds us that it is better not to make a vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it (Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5).
Stronger in Resolve toward One Another
For the majority of marriages among those I have counseled that stayed together even through difficult seasons, I noticed an extraordinary common thread. As these couples battled through disappointments, loss and unexpected surprises, they became stronger in their resolve toward one another. They decided the tough times were going to make them and not break them. They chose to get help, be honest, expose their weaknesses and become more open, transparent, and truthful. They submitted to counsel, read books, prayed together, extended grace, forgave, grew in faith, and many times recommitted themselves to a better future. Change never occurred overnight, but change did occur.
Regardless of what life threw at them, they maintained their vows and lifelong marriage commitment to God and one another. They recognized the value of a covenant and the significance of a marriage that shows the world how much Christ loves His church.
There is Help and There is Hope
Regardless of where you are in your marriage, there is help and there is hope. If God is who He says He is, then every marriage scenario can be redeemed. If He could forgive the woman who committed adultery and obviously failed in her marriage, He can forgive you and rebuild your relationship.
The value of marriage, held so deeply in the DOVE family, is not just words on paper. It is a hour-by-hour and day-by-day commitment we are living out to love, cherish, protect, and guard one another until “death do us part.”
More marriage tips in Steve and Mary Prokopchak’s book Staying Together: A Lifelong Affair (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: Destiny Image, 2017).