Marriage vows

Ann Swanson

At Valentine’s Day, we think of love. Love comes in all forms; love for family, love for friends, romantic love. Those who will become engaged this Valentine’s Day are “in love”. Valentine’s Day is a popular day for engagements and weddings.

Since divorce statistics are so grim these days, I look at couples and wonder. Will they still be together five years from now or even two years from now?

I look with awe at some of the older couples I see at my volunteer post. Life has not been perfect by any means, but they have weathered the storm. Their union has endured the test of time.

The Bible has many quotations that refer to marriage. It indicates that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Folks, that is the only way procreation can happen! What would happen to our world if only men married men and women married women?

My favorite quote about love is in 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8. It was read at the weddings of both of my children. I read it for my son. Ed’s family read it for them. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” What exactly does all that mean?

If couples took the vows made at the altar the day they married to heart, they would stay together, not for the sake of the children, but for the sake of the vows they made. I have heard numerous couples speak these vows and then later decide that the marriage was not for them. How did they suddenly fall out of love? Maybe the marriage was a mistake from the beginning. That till death do us part was just something to say, it does not apply to them.

Although I did not marry in the Methodist Church of which I am a part of today, I appreciate the way marriage is handled in the Methodist Church. After the vows, the entire congregation is asked to watch over the couple and to see that their vows are kept. That makes everyone responsible.

Today many couples choose to write their own vows since they see the ones included in the marriage ceremony as antiquated. Even when they write their own vows most of them speak of fidelity. The thought of trust in a marriage is important.

I recall what I term the stressors of marriage. Our marriage went through a myriad of stressors. One involved money. We lost access to an investment when the farm we had waited for became available. The money we counted on for a down payment was gone. The lady who was a partial owner of the place came to our aid. She lent us money for the down payment at a very low rate. We were able to purchase the place where our daughter and son-in-law have raised their family.

That incident could have ended our marriage but it did not. We did not engage in he said, she said scenario. We plowed our way through the situation and strengthened our marriage in the process.

Couples need to learn to weather the storm. Like a braid, there is strength in the power of three – a husband, a wife, and the Lord.

I fear in many cases the element missing is God. The marriage vows say what God has joined together let no man separate.

To marry a man who wanted to be a dad was important to me. My father bailed leaving my mother on her own to raise me. That is not the type of man I wanted as my husband. I wanted a family with a father present. I wanted him to share in the raising of our children.

The Bible has much to say about that as well. “Spare the rod, spoil the child” is from the Bible. This does not mean a child needs to be beaten into submission, but it allows for a spanking when a child has crossed the line of behavior. Today you can go to jail if you spank your child. Permissiveness is not the answer. Children respect to discipline and thrive under it. A child who receives discipline knows that the parent loves them although they may not always like what happens.

On the anniversary of our twenty-fifth year of marriage, I was asked to compile a column about love for the Valentine issue of a small local paper. I did. I also included a photograph of our wedding day. I titled it “Silver Linings”. Believe me, not everything that happened in our marriage had a silver lining. We worked hard at it.

When my twenty-fifth rolled around my husband was working. I had also worked the day. There was no huge celebration for us. My husband promised me we would make a trip to Hawaii. We never had a honeymoon. That was not to be. Our children were in college and we could not afford to make the trip. I recall that his aunt who was visiting from Virginia called that evening to wish me a happy anniversary. I am not sure why I remember that but I do.

A honeymoon would not have made our marriage any better. It was the day to day things that made our marriage work. My husband told me I was a great communicator. That was one of the things he loved about me. We always talked things out.

I think communication is the key to marriage. You have to know what the other person wants before you can provide it. Do not stew about things on your own. Let your significant other know what you want, and yes, compromise when necessary.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at