I, Beth, take you, Mark, to be my husband, ....
It hasn't always been easy. Does this surprise anyone out there who is actually married? The idea of marriage is romantic and wonderful and exciting and fulfilling, and the reality of marriage is that it is those things due to extremely HARD WORK. But what worthwhile thing is not the result of hard work? To quote one of my husband's favorite movie lines from "A League of Their Own",
"It's supposed to be hard.
If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it.
The hard... is what makes it great. "
...to have and to hold from this day forward,...
One of the speakers at this year's NCHE Homeschool Conference did two sessions on marriage, and the importance of making this relationship a priority, for both our and our children's sakes! The speaker, Heidi St. John, shared how her extended family was full of a legacy of divorce - parents, siblings, cousins. I realized that my family's legacy is very different than that.
... for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer,...
My extended family is full of long marriages. So is Mark's. My parents have been married for 53 years. Mark's dad passed away almost 10 years ago, still in love with the wife of his youth. Mark's siblings have all been married for more than 20 years. My siblings waited longer to get married, but my sister and brother have both been married for over 10 years, and my youngest brother gave up bachelorhood just a year ago and is now happily esconced in wedded life. All of my aunts and uncles have had long marriages to one life-partner, and all but one of my cousins.
I don't think we realize what an amazing thing this is.
...in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,...
The actual statistics related to marriage and divorce rates in this country are murky, but it is undeniable that the statistics are pretty dismal and that broken marriages and families are all around us. Divorce is in the church and in the homeschool community just like everywhere else. Statistics aren't so murky in pointing out the effects of divorce on children and on communities. We are surrounded by brokenness and bitterness and resentment and loneliness and fatalism. The institution of marriage is often attacked and berated as society grapples with the fall-out of generations that didn't honor their word or put others first, or more importantly, respect God's Word.
My prayer is that my children appreciate and embrace this counter-cultural legacy, and realize what a treasure they have there. It won't make their own marriages any easier, but hopefully will give them a vision for what it means to make a commitment to somebody for the rest of your life. You take the good with the bad, the ups with the downs, and you fight and work for what is worthwhile. The wedding vows we made were a promise, our word before God and family and friends. And thirty years down the road, they still hold us together.
...from this day forward, until death do us part.