How to THRIVE in Your Wedding Vows Series - part 1
Disclaimer - Because of sin, there is serious dysfunction in some marriages today. This series does not mean to whitewash any problems inside of broken marriages. Instead, it is my desire to uncover the beauty of the vows thru a Biblical worldview and how they are meant to play out in a healthy marriage.
“Man and wife. Say man and wife!” the prince demands thru clenched teeth. The commotion outside the palace gate has reached a fevered pitch, and he does not want his forced marriage jeopardized. The priest does as instructed, skipping from the intro to the end pronouncing them "Man and wife."
The bride is dismayed. She’s married to the wrong man!
But, the prince forgot one small detail. By skipping the vows, the abducted bride never said, “I do.” She promised nothing to the prince that day. Therefore, when her one true love does “Have fun storming the castle gates!” the bride is free to marry him, her Westley.
This iconic wedding scene is from The Princess Bride, a ridiculously fun movie my man and I have loved from our dating days. As I was contemplating today’s post, the “man and wife” line kept coming back to me. There is much ado leading up to the wedding these days, that the vows seem like an add-on, a little inconvenience to hurry thru to get to the pronouncement “man and wife.”
What's so significant about saying, "I do?"
The vows are the very thing that ties a marriage together. Think of “I do” as the vow's super glue, nothing should pull it apart.
Interestingly, today’s vows date back to the covenants of ancient times. Covenants, or agreements, were a big deal back in the day. Remember God and Abraham (Genesis 15) and David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 20)?
Why this focus on covenant before diving into the individual statements?
1. God is faithful to us.
Our faith is dependent on believing that God keeps His promises. Therefore,
- When He declared, “Your sins are forgiven!”, they are forgiven. Gone! Psalm 103:12
- When He spoke, “I love you with an unfailing love.”, You are loved, no matter what. Forever! Jeremiah 31:3
- When He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He’s there, as promised. Hebrew 13:5
This list of how God is a covenant-keeping God goes on, showcasing the beauty that God cannot nor will not break His Word. He is constant. He IS covenant. Hebrews 6:17-19
2. I’m desperately human.
- I might be swelling with love for my man one day, but the next I’m ready to set him on a slow ship to Siberia.
- Human love tends to ebb and flow like the tides of the ocean, but covenant keeps me anchored, steady.
3. Covenant is constant.
- Covenant is what anchors my marriage against the storms of life.
- It is not about me feeling loving toward my man or if my man is lovable. It’s about “I do,” thru the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- It is a "Let’s take divorce out of the picture" mentality.
What is Covenant?
Covenant is a solemn and binding agreement meant to last a lifetime. Back in the day, when you entered a covenant, there were up to 9 parts of the ceremony. It was serious business! Today, we’ll highlight just 4 of them because it is too cool how they tie into contemporary vows!
1. The Statement of Agreement:
Then - Both parties knew the expectations up front and agreed to it.
Now - When we state our vows,
- to have and to hold,
- for better, for worse,
- for richer, for poorer,
- in sickness and in health,
- to love and to cherish,
- till death do us part,
we agree thru good times and bad times, I will stick by your side.
2. The Offering of an Animal:
Then - This offering would be the best one could afford. They would split the animal in two, and the two parties would walk between the two parts, symbolizing
- “I’m sacrificing my best to enter this covenant with you.”
as well as
- "May God do so to me [cut me in half] if I ever break this covenant with you and God!"1
Now - Today's sacrifice is when we declare "I do!" choosing our spouse over all others until death do we part.
3. The Belt Exchange:
Then - Belts were a necessary part of one's wardrobe as it held one’s clothing in place. Therefore, the exchanging of belts symbolized, “I support you.” “I’ve got your back.”
Now - With today's marriage vows, we promise, “I support you regardless of the season. I’ve got your back thru thick and thin.”
4. The Weapon Exchange:
Then - Whatever your weapon of choice was, sword or spear usually, you’d exchange it in the covenant ceremony, stating, “Your enemies are my enemies. We are not each other’s enemies.”
Now - Oh, my friend, we could have church right here! Think about it; when we state our vows, we’re saying, “_________, I’m on your team. I’ll fight by your side shoulder to shoulder, not against you.” A team mentality! Glory bumps!
How Do I Live with a Covenant Mindset?
If our covenant-keeping God desires for us to keep our covenants, then He will also give us the ability to keep those covenants. Embrace the truth of God keeping His covenant with you, enabling you to keep your covenant with your spouse.
My teaching pastor concluded his message one Sunday with a statement which ties in perfectly. He talked about persevering thru the weary. I like that. That’s what covenant does, it puts its shoulder to the obstacle and pushes thru the hard. It perseveres thru the weary. It storms the castle gates to rescue its one true love!
“I do take _________ to be my wedded husband,
“I do promise to have and to hold ____________, from this day forward.”
“I do pledge to stay with _________ for better, for worse.”
“I do vow to remain with ____________ for richer, for poorer.”
“I do commit to love __________ in sickness and in health.”
“I do covenant to love and to cherish (and to obey) ___________ till death do us part."
“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, it is the marriage that sustains your love.” stated Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A man who makes a vow to the LORD
or makes a pledge under oath must never break it.
He must do exactly what he said he would do.
So, my friend, what part of your covenant are you weary in today? What part of your vows do you need to drop the anchor so that you can hold steady in this current storm? Have you bought the world’s lie that to stay true to your vows, you have to feel the love? Soften your heart to accept and live in God's vision for marriage and covenant, and thrive in His blessings and approval.
Heat up Your "to Have and to Hold" - Part 2
Winning Solution "for Better for Worse" - Part 3
Do Not Grow Weary "In Sickness and in Health" - Part 4
1. Family Life
2. Precept Austin
3. Revive Our Hearts
4. His Wondrous Works
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
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“I am done babying him,” she exclaimed! "Whoa! What?" was my shocked response. You see, my friend had just been sharing about a time sensitive matter pressing on her and her mate. As the deadline approached, her man had called and texted throughout the day asking her different questions regarding the location of places and materials. She could feel her resentment growing with each of his requests for help. She concluded her narrative by stating that she was done babying him…he was a grown man…he had a smartphone and could find this information himself. Hmmph!
As she was fuming, I started thinking: How does a bride go from wanting to do everything for her groom to:
- despising his asking for help?
- considering his requests a burden?
- reducing him to a little boy in her mind?
My answer: It’s the slow fade, my friend, the mundane of everyday life dulling the glow of “happily ever after.”
In the thick of the day in and day out of everyday married life, "for better or for worse" fades into the background as annoyance, impatience, and complacency push to the forefront. Yet, our husband asking us for help is exactly the role we signed up for when we said, "I do." Look at Genesis 2:18,
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
The word helper means "to aid or help or succor." Wait. What? Succor? What in the world does succor mean? It means: “assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.”
To be our man’s succor during hardship and distress is much like a three-legged race. Depending on how athletic you are, walking together successfully is quite the challenge. There can be much stumble tripping, perhaps falling in a heap of laughter with the finish line oh so far away. But choosing to throw our arm around the other person’s shoulder and finding a walking rhythm to move forward productively is a step in the right direction to winning. A team effort!
And I think this is the key: to be our man’s succor victoriously, we need to adopt the mindset that we’re on the same team! Just like I’d help my 3-legged race partner up if they’d fallen or throw my arm around them so we could walk in sync, it’s the same for marriage. If my man is in need of my help, as his helpmate or succor, it benefits me and us if I joyfully give him the aid he needs to thrive!
To thrive at being our man's succor is choosing to live out the beauty of Proverbs 31:10-12:
"Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."
When I'm my man's succor, he can trust me... I greatly enrich his life... I bring him good, not harm... ALL the days of my life. That, my friend, is winning! Replacing the "me" attitude with a "we" attitude is the best way to win at marriage.
This post has caused me to take a hard look at myself. How often do I default to a "me" attitude instead of choosing a "we" attitude in my own marriage? Does my man trust me? Do I greatly enrich his life? Do I bring him good and not harm? These are good questions to check the barometer of my heart toward my man and adjust as needed.
We humans are drawn to the strong and despise the weak. But our husbands are just like us, fallen creatures in need of a Savior, in need of mercy, in need of a succor. By faith, I will choose to throw my arm around my handsome 3-legged partner and be his succor for the glory of God and for the win at this thing called marriage.
"Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you MUST clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." Colossians 3:12
I'd love to hear from you! What do you think of this idea of being your man's succor? How do you push thru wanting to give up and press in for the win? Maybe you feel done. I'm sorry. That's a hard place. We can't change our spouses, only ourselves. Therefore, ask the Lord to show you what areas of Genesis 2:18 and Proverbs 31:10-12 He would like you to work on. Then do it for His glory and blessing. My friend, He blesses our obedience even in our hard places. I'm cheering you on!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
No one, well at least almost no one, goes into marriage thinking about how they can get out of it. Quite the opposite actually. We happily agree to be completely and totally devoted to this person in every possible way forever and ever until death do us part. I mean we “love” them! How hard could it be, right? Wrong! Somewhere along the way, real life happens and two imperfect people are left to try and figure out what “love” really is.
Although not exhaustive, I’ve created a list, and narrowed it down, of some of the most common problems that bring marriages to divorce and could quite possibly bring your own marriage to an end if not dealt with quickly and properly. This article is not written in any way to condemn people who have already been involved in a divorce. This is meant to inform those who are married or will be some day, so they can avoid these costly mistakes.
1. Unspoken Expectations - Let’s look at how unspoken expectations could break down the bond of a marriage. Say, for instance, that while I was growing up my father brought my mother flowers for every special occasion. He never forgot a birthday, anniversary, or other important date. And because this is what I have been exposed to, this is what I expect my husband to do for me. I would never ask my husband to bring me flowers, I just expect that he will. And because my husband is a completely different person than I am, who was exposed to completely different experiences in his life, and who has completely different ideas of showing love than I do, he doesn’t bring me flowers. Not for my birthday, or our anniversary, not on Valentine’s Day, not any day. Each occasion I get my feelings hurt, I feel unloved by my husband, and truthfully, I’m a bit angry. This may seem like a silly example, but how many times in our marriages do we expect our spouse to do something or be something only to be extremely disappointed when they fail to deliver? And all because we never even communicated our expectations to them. No matter how strange it may feel, we need to have good, open, honest communication to let our spouse know what we desire and let them share the same with us!
2. Unrealistic Expectations - Communicating what we want and need with our spouse is the first step. However, we must be reasonable with our expectations as well. Just because I tell my husband that I desire for him to call me at least 10 times a day while he is at work just to check in, doesn’t mean that this is realistic. Communicating with each other is so important. Talk it out and come to an agreeable decision.
Social media plays a HUGE role in feeding our unrealistic expectations. I want a beach vacation, or a Disney vacation, or a new house, or a bigger house, or a nicer house…even though we don’t have enough money to afford it. Or, I want my husband to be more like her husband and take me on a date, or buy me new jewelry, or listen like he does, or be more sensitive like he is. Seeing the pretty facade posted on someone’s media wall leads us to the LIE that the grass is greener. Do not let the exterior of someone else's life ruin how you feel about the interior of yours.
Television can also lead us to fill our minds with unrealistic expectations. Think about your favorite show you watch on TV right now. Even the drama, the junk, the yuck, in each character’s life is glamorized. Our real life messes rarely play out in such a glamorous way. That’s because TV IS NOT REAL! It’s scripted to be glamorous. And though we would all say we understand that, many times we find ourselves disappointed when our own life doesn’t unfold quite so beautifully.
I would guess if you look back on the last couple of disagreements you had with your spouse, it could be traced back to either an unspoken or unrealistic expectation. Find some time to spend with just the two of you and talk through these things together! First, think through your own expectations of your spouse. Recognize any unrealistic fantasies you have about marriage and then confess them to your spouse.
3. Selfishness - Unfortunately, my spouse and I are sinful, selfish, human beings and many times, even though I know what my husband needs or expects, I choose not to meet that need or expectation, simply because I don’t feel like it. This one is very simple to understand. When we know how to make our partner feel loved and we choose not to, this is selfishness. Easy to understand, harder to apply! In every decision we make that involves another person we can choose to be selfish or selfless. From decisions as simple as where do you want to eat dinner or what should we watch on TV to will I meet the needs in your life that make you feel loved, respected, and supported, we have a choice to make.
4. Unmet Needs - Selfishness and number four go hand in hand. Once we have communicated effectively with each other, we must work unselfishly to meet our spouse’s needs. The reason this takes us being unselfish is because we don’t usually share the same needs to the same degree. Ladies, I know we don’t like to talk about this, but the number one need of most men is sex. But, it is usually NOT the number one need of most women. Therefore, we have to unselfishly put our spouse above ourselves to make sure we are lovingly meeting their needs, and vice versa. When both husband’s and wife’s needs are fulfilled by the other, a bond is created and strengthens as this cycle continues. This all goes back to good communication! When we are talking it out, letting each other know what we need, desire, and expect, and then unselfishly fulfilling these wants, desires, and needs for each other, marital harmony is created!
5. Money - Money is said to be one of the top reasons for couples fighting and for divorce. Can you see how some of the things mentioned above, when not handled properly could lead to problems over money? Let’s look at some possible money troubles.
*Greediness - In this case, the unfortunate reality is that it’s not the fault of money at all. It’s the fault of one or both parties being greedy. More money seems like the answer. If we just had more money we could have the house we want and the cars we want and the clothes we want and then, we’d be happy. But if this is your mindset, more money usually just makes you want even more. And if you don’t have enough money to pay the bills you already have, then you’ve overcommitted yourself. We should only buy the things we can actually afford to pay for. This eliminates stress between couples. Being content with where we are in life and grateful for the things we do have, will create calmness between you and your spouse when the bills come due.
*Disagreements - Maybe you have money to spend, but you can’t agree on how to spend it, or one of you wants to spend one wants to save.
*Uneducated - Perhaps you are like Jordan and me when we got married. We didn’t have a clue of the damage we were doing as we racked up debt. It wasn’t until we owed several thousands of dollars that we realized we had created a problem. I’m sure the money troubles list could go on and on but we will stop here. Instead of fighting about money, commit to praying about it. Try a class at your church or a money education program like Dave Ramsey. Find a plan that works for you and work toward reaching it together!
So as we work at this thing called marriage, we learn that real "love" is not a feeling at all, it's an action. It's a way of living. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
On our own these things are difficult if not impossible to do. But when you have a relationship with Jesus and you spend plenty of time with Him praying over your marriage and reading what His Word has to say, the impossible becomes possible!
You may do every one of these things well and your spouse may be the one who is falling short. Remember, you can only control what you do. But don’t let this deter you from loving your spouse well. Keep up the hard work and pray passionately that your spouse will recognize their deficit and will pick up the slack. Be careful to pray over your own attitude so that you do not become embittered toward your spouse for not doing their part.
If you and your spouse are struggling, please seek help today! Satan wants nothing more than to destroy your family and eliminate your marriage. We would be happy to help you find a Christian counselor in your area. Comment here, send a private Facebook message, or e-mail us at ByFaithSheGirls@byfaithshe.com.
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.