When the Marriage was Only a Wedding

Unfortunately sometimes that day comes. It’s certainly not planned. It was never even considered. But the wedding cake has crumbled, and the frozen slices that were saved for anniversaries are just that…frozen…like the marriage. The flowers have died and been thrown out, the few petals originally saved as remembrances turned to dust. The rings, once shiny and bright, are now tarnished and dull, and don’t even look like gold any more. The toasting wine has soured, and the toasting glasses were smashed long ago.

The photos you have of that smiling couple full of love and promise are now only faded memories you want to shred and burn, or at a minimum, cut out the faces of people in favorite shots of friends who are still there for you.

The beautiful wedding, the prelude to happily ever after, was only that. A wedding. Because the marriage part just didn’t survive.

Because marriage is hard. It’s work. Sometimes it’s very hard work. You never know how hard it really is until you’re in the middle of it. The honeymoon that followed the wedding, when the two of you were newly wed with not a care in the world, not worried about anything except where to go for dinner…that was a beautiful beginning to the world of stark reality. Where there are bills to pay; a home to take care of; disagreements over all kinds of things you never even
imagined when you were dating; more bills to pay; misunderstandings and unexpected financial and other emergencies.

It’s all a part of this thing we call life and marriage. And let me tell you again, marriage is not easy. It’s not all roses and walks in the moonlight, although they do still happen once in awhile. I can say this, because it took me two failed marriages to finally find the right husband, and this year we’ll celebrate 32 married years together. Has it been easy? No. Has it been worth it?

Recent statistics tell us 50% of today’s marriages end in divorce. That’s a very sad statistic in so many ways. Even with the pre-marriage counseling most pastors require before performing the wedding ceremony, obviously too many marriages still don’t make it.

The handsome prince turns out to be a toad full of ugly warts. Cinderella turns out to be the horrible, wicked stepsister hidden behind a beautiful disguise. And happily ever after becomes a dream still unrealized.

The marriage was only a wedding…a dress rehearsal that ended in broken dreams and broken promises.

When I was growing up I didn’t even know any people who had been divorced, at least I don’t think I did. I didn’t know any kids who were from broken homes until I was in the ninth grade when we met some kids whose last name was different than their mother’s, and we had to have an adult explain why.

What’s happening to cause these heartbreaking statistics? There are as many reasons as there are divorces, not the least of which is lack of a firm commitment by both spouses to make the marriage work. That means putting each other’s needs above your own. Working together to achieve common goals. And being truly committed to working to keep the promises you made to each other on your wedding day. For better or worse. Promises are not supposed to be broken.
It’s gotten far too easy for one or both partners to give up on their marriage because it’s too much work to fix it.

But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, the marriage just doesn’t survive. There are lots of reasons. Sometimes only one partner is willing to try, and it takes both partners to be committed to make a marriage work. And sometimes, unfortunately, even with both partners trying, it just won’t work any more.

This is why I clearly heard the Lord telling me as I was planning one of the many weddings I coordinated for our church, “Don’t be so concerned about the wedding. Be concerned about the marriage.”

Because a wedding lasts only part of a day. A marriage should last, as the vows say, “until we are parted by death.”

But sometimes the death is the death of the marriage.

How is the health of your marriage? Does it need help? Is it going strong?

Or was it only a wedding?

And if it was only a wedding, you’d better work on the marriage part, and work hard! Because that’s the best part!

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