Today I am writing to my pre-wedding readers. I ask my post-wedding readers to read this, think of a pre-wedding friend that needs to read this, and share it with them.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife! You may kiss the bride.” The joyous couple smooches in front of family, friends, and coworkers.
You have envisioned this moment for a long time, but is the wedding ceremony when your marriage begins? Nope!
How about after the reception, after you and your spouse have driven away in your car decorated with proclamations of “Just Married,” after you arrive at your destination, perhaps a stop on the way to your dream honeymoon location, and finally are alone where you can set everything else aside and focus on each other to consummate your marriage? Is the consummation when your marriage begins? Nope!
How about when he pops the question and you get engaged? Nope!
Your Marriage Begins …
Here is the first part of my point: Your marriage begins many years before you meet “the one.” It began way back when you were very young and first understood one day you will find the right one and “get married.”
This is the second part of my point: Because that is when devotion to your spouse began. Or should have begun.
In that regard “get married” is a misnomer, we should say “have the wedding.”
Devotion to your spouse, or lack thereof, begins the moment you realize you will one day have a spouse. Every decision you make affects your spouse.
At the surface there are issues which affect the spouse by helping narrow down what type of person the spouse is likely to be, such as:
- A girl thinks she needs to look like a fashion model and only certain guys like that type
- A girl goes for a natural, outdoorsy look and only certain guys like that type
- A guy becomes a sports-fanatic and only certain girls like that type
- A guy devotes considerable time and energy to being “Mr. Muscle” and only certain girls like that type
But I am talking about far more than narrowing the playing field of possibilities. I am talking about devotion.
A Girl’s Lack of Devotion
If a high school girl is so desperate for love she dresses provocatively to attract attention from the guys and gives dates and maybe even sex to get a boyfriend who will give her attention and she hopes love, this will affect her husband. How?
Because eventually every girlfriend/boyfriend relationship does one of two things: they “break up” or “have the wedding.” As teenagers are not allowed to “have the wedding” this reduces the options down to “breaking up” (exceptions: “high school sweetheart” weddings and shotgun weddings; both are likely missing knowledge of how to have a healthy relationship). Break-up’s hurt. Even if this girl knows this is the wrong guy, it hurts because there is a deep desire disappointed and unfulfilled. So what does she do?
Unless she gains wisdom she will repeat the cycle, looking for love to soothe her hurting heart. The cycle repeats into college and beyond, until she finds a boyfriend she believes is the one and they “have the wedding.” What is her husband presented with? He gets her heart that is deeply and repeatedly wounded by a history of hurting relationships and probably still has little knowledge of how to have a healthy relationship. Proof of this is our country’s 50% divorce rate. And I am not even going into STD’s and the horrific baggage of comparisons between past boyfriends and the husband.
How about the guys?
A Guy’s Lack of Devotion
If a high school guy is so desperate for sex that he gives attention and affection to get a girlfriend who will exchange sex for “love,” this will affect his wife. How?
Back to the two options: break up or “have the wedding.” When his cycle ends with the girlfriend who accepts his proposal and they “have the wedding” what does she get? A man who has sought sex and when everything does not work out he “moves on” to the next woman, of which she is the latest installment. Again, 50% divorce rate.
Lack of Early Devotion Result: 50% Divorce Rate
What do these all-too-common scenarios share as they contribute to the 50% divorce rate? An utter lack of early devotion to their spouse apparently with the belief that devotion will magically appear at the wedding and secure them a wonderful, lifelong marriage.
Devotion Practiced = Success!
At the young age when you realized one day you will “have the wedding” you could have begun practicing devotion to your future spouse. You could have said, “There is one out there for me, so I will wait for them. I will focus on becoming who I am so I can benefit my spouse when we finally meet. With growing anticipation I will wait for the right person, my spouse, and not go through repeated heartbreak trying to ‘meet my needs’ and find them before it is time.”
Fairy Tale or Reality?
Sound like a fairy tale? I did it. So did my wife. So have others we have known over the years. Other cultures with arranged marriages do it all the time.
The result of early devotion is a huge marital success rate, evidenced by a very low divorce rate. What do I reference as proof? My own marriage. Marriages of parents and grandparents and their friends. The marriages written about in Married For Life.
When Does Marriage Begin?
So when does your marriage begin? It began when you were young and realized one day you would get married. That is when you could start being devoted to your future spouse.
It Is Never Too Late To Start Devotion For Improving Marriage Health
If you did not devote yourself to your future spouse in the past, you can begin now. You can work on healing any wounds in your heart with the goal of presenting a healthy heart to your spouse. You can work on learning what makes relationships healthy so you can make your marriage healthy. You can work on making all the details of life as healthy and positive as possible for the benefit of your spouse and marriage.
Are you devoted to your future spouse? Will you be from now on?
A Biblical Glimpse of Devotion
Song of Songs, perhaps the ultimate love poem, has this exchange between husband and wife in chapter one:
15 Behold, you are beautiful, my love;
behold, you are beautiful;
your eyes are doves.
He recognizes her as beautiful, and rightfully so because she worked hard to become beautiful! It does not just happen! Beauty comes from the inside and is displayed on the outside. And “your eyes are doves” means she is devoted to him. She has longed for and been with no other man but him.
16 Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful.
Our couch is green;
17 the beams of our house are cedar;
our rafters are pine.
Will you do the same for your spouse? Will you be devoted to him or her, recognizing and evaluating your decisions as impacting your marriage now and forever? If so, they will thank you for it. If not, you are in danger of contributing to the 50% divorce rate.
I hope you choose to be devoted.