At some point in your wedding ceremony you probably committed to take your husband to have and to hold from this day forward, for better and for worse. I know I did. But I really didn’t think about what it meant. Twenty eight years later, for better and for worse has deep meaning.
Our daughter, Megan, got married a year ago. The ceremony was beautiful and Megan’s happiness in those months up to the wedding brought back memories of my wedding day. The unadulterated excitement I had going into my marriage blocked out possible road bumps that would lie ahead of us. For worse never really resonated with me, I just was dreaming about better. I thought the tough part about marriage was finding the right guy. That after the wedding came the easy part, my happily ever after.
So many couples don’t go into marriage thinking that it’s going to be difficult. Mark and I definitely were among them. You’re going to be with your best friend every day, what could possibly go wrong? One of the best pieces of advice that I could give to a couple about to be married is to go through pre-marital counseling. Counseling will be helpful in developing a deep, fulfilling and lasting love. The reality is everyone will have ‘for worse’ challenges at some point in their marriage, but what do you do when the big ones come your way?
Practice loving well in the good times so you are prepared to love well in the bad times. How can you love your spouse through the worst? It’s easy to love them when they are loving, but how do you love them when they are challenging. Remember these three things to love your spouse well when loving them isn’t easy:
1. Remember your vows.
Marriage is a covenant for life. When you’re going through ‘for worse’ you have to go back to the fundamentals. You have to go back to the vows and say, “What did we commit to? What did we sign up for? We committed for life.” You committed for better and for worse. This point is so important for you to remember because in your discontentment you don’t ever want to question if you chose the right spouse. Take those options off the table right now.
I have heard from friends who are going through divorce again and again, “I’m just not happy.” That is not a reason to go through a separation or a divorce; you committed and you committed for life. If you have been divorced, this isn’t a message of condemnation, there are limited circumstances when divorce or separation may be warranted. However, that is not what anyone wants going into marriage.
Practice loving well in the good times so you are prepared to love well in the bad times.
2. Remember marriage is a covenant, not a contract.
Marriage is covenant to be cherished not a contract. A contract is always about a conditional consideration between two people that is on a time table. It is about the best deal that you can get. I will do this if and only if you do that. When something goes wrong the other person can walk away from the contract. A covenant, on the other hand is based on unconditional love between God, a husband, and a wife. It is not based on reciprocity, but sacrificial action and commitment. That commitment might only be between you and God at the lowest points in your marriage, but God honors that faithfully. Bottom line: a contract is all about what you get and a covenant is all about what you give.
3. Remember marriage is a holy union established to glorify God.
Marriage is essentially a showcase of who God is. It is an exhibition of his love relation with us, for all the world to see. You need to love your spouse well because your spouse is made in the image of God. Your relationship should point to the love, goodness, and grace of God. Trust me when I say, I know that this seems impossible at the worst times. Marriage is one of the most difficult things you can do. Loving your spouse well is one of the most important things you can do.