My wife and I have never had a big fight. We've never had a big blow out. We've had our disagreements and we've raised our voices at moments but we've never had a big conflict. I will tell you our secret.
We've not been married very long.
We are not so disillusioned to think that we will have a marriage completely full of happiness and free of conflict. Our marriage is and I pray will overall be happy and hopefully be more peace filled than conflict ridden, but we are not naive enough to think we'll have a super long marriage that is all roses.
Christine and I are young and we go to a lot of weddings. From friends and classmates, to former youth group kids and siblings we've been to a lot of weddings.
At weddings we notice the flowers, the DJ, the dresses and suits, the location, the colors, the groom's face as she walks down the aisle, the toasts, the first dances and all the things we thought about when we planned our wedding.
But the thing that matters most at a wedding and the thing I pay close attention to is the vows.
Vows are the solemn promises we make to each other and to God and before God and the congregation of witnesses. These words we speak must be greater than a Hallmark card.
I've too often heard vows, especially self-written vows, that make promises that are unkeepable. Promises to always make the other person happy, promises to keep a certain sense of adventure and wanderlust, promises to always be inspired to love by the other person; and while these promises seem lovely they are not doable.
I've not been married long, but I think there are only a few things we can really promise one another in our vows. It seems being there and trying with God's help are the only two things we can really promise.
At our wedding Christine walked down the aisle to a song I recorded called "I Will Be Here" by Steven Curtis Chapman. I will be here is one of the greatest promises we can make to our spouse. I will be here: for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer till death parts us. This is a very difficult promise and one that only by the grace of God can we keep, but one I believe we can make and if you ask someone who has been married for 60 years it's a very romantic and loving promise.
Trying. This is the other promises I think we can make on our wedding day. While trying is nearly unnecessary on our wedding day and trying sounds pretty darn unromantic on day one, trying is a very necessary and loving promise. So many marriages ultimately fail because the will to try has been lost. In fact, divorce is impossible unless one or both people give up the will to try. I don't know this experientially yet but there will be times in every marriage where the ability to keep trying needs to come from outside of ourselves. There is a point when your spouse will not inspire you to try, no matter how good looking they are and how warm and fuzzy you felt on your wedding day. At this point we must get our ability to even try from God.
If you're engaged or thinking about marriage someday I encourage you to, when the time comes, think soberly about the vows you will make. On your wedding day your heart will be stirred to make many grand and lovely promises, but I implore you to make promises that you can actually keep. I encourage you to promise to be there and to try.
And if you've made vows I encourage you, and myself for that matter, to stay true to the vows you made to your spouse and God today.