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OPINION: What it really takes

To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. These are just some of the many vows you can find in a wedding ceremony. Others include, for richer or for poorer and to love and to cherish, but do people really understand these vows they are taking? Sadly, I don’t think people comprehend what they are about to get into as they meet at the altar.

In the past two years, I’ve seen multiple couples wed and multiple couples get engaged. Some of them I knew very well and had no doubts about whatsoever, and others I just had to stop and wonder.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am not a cynic of marriage by any means. I love the concept of marriage, and I fully endorse it…but I just think that some people don’t think it through completely before it happens.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), in 2013 there were a total of 17,805 divorces. That’s staggering to me and further proves that this is serious stuff.

I don’t believe that people truly think before they get married nowadays, and I don’t think they take to heart the huge responsibility that comes with it. It seems to be more of a frivolous party. A fairytale come to life. But what happens after the fairytale ends? Happily ever after will not last forever if two people are not fully committed to staying with one another.

My grandparents have been married for over 60 years. Sixty years! That’s such an incredible milestone that I may never be able to reach in my future married life. That just blows my mind that they have been together so long and are still just as faithful and committed to each other as they were back in the day.

I think when people look at marriage, they have a hard time seeing it for what it really is: a symbol. Marriage isn’t just living with someone and seeing them every day, it’s symbolic of Christ and his love for us.

These are a few things I’ve taken to heart over the past few years in regards to marriage:

*It’s not all about you.

I don’t care who you are, where you are from or how special your parents told you you were growing up…it’s not all about you. Relationships take compromise and growth. If two people are not willing to listen to each other, change their minds and work to better their relationship, it will crumble.

*Communication is hard, but it needs to be done.

Talk to each other. Talk about the hard stuff, the uncomfortable stuff and the silly stuff. Talk about everything. Don’t be afraid to let loose your feelings and express yourself. If you can’t talk to your soulmate, your best friend, the love of your life, then how can you expect to have a deep and meaningful relationship?

*Jesus first, you guys second.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Since marriage is a symbol of the gospel, naturally, Jesus must be in the center. This is not to say that Godly marriages will not face hardships; quite the contrary, they will most likely face some of the most difficult ones.

When two people are working hard to further the kingdom of the Lord, Satan is not just going to sit back and let it happen. He will come in with guns blazing. But as a couple who loves, serves and depends on the Lord, you will be able to rely on Him to help you through any and all trials the enemy will put you through.

There’s an old saying that says, “God will not give you more than you can handle.” I think that’s just nonsense. If we could handle everything that comes our way, we would not trust and rely on God. God gives us way more than we bargain for because He knows that we can only accomplish it through faith in Him.

*Forgive.

This is one that can be difficult. As humans, we are by nature very selfish, self-centered beings. Very rarely do we like being wrong. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” In order to grow, we must humble ourselves and forgive. Forget that petty fight you’ve been having. Does it really matter if he won’t rinse his dishes before he puts them in the dish washer? Or does it really matter if she leaves her socks on the floor? No. These are petty arguments (and quirks you probably knew about before marrying them) that do not do anything to benefit the relationship and also slowly tear down the walls you two have built around your marriage.

There is a beautiful story in Hosea that gives an amazing example of forgiveness in relation to God’s forgiveness toward us. When we start thinking that we are too good to forgive someone, just stop and remember that God forgives us every single day, the first time we ask. We don’t have to earn it, we don’t have to beg and plead for it; we just have to ask.

Hosea 2:19-20 says, “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.”

Marriage is hard, and relationships in general are hard. But a realistic look at what you’re going into can really help the longevity of the relationship.