Posts tagged marriage vows

I still do … every day



I still do ... every dayToday, I begin my 30th year of marriage to Ellie. Am I surprised we made it this far?

Not at all.

If I had it to do all over again, would I still say “I do?”

Without a doubt. I still do.

Did I comprehend all I was agreeing to when I said those words so many years ago?

Not even close.

After five years of dating, Ellie and I were still deeply in love on that perfect May morning when we made our vows before dozens of witnesses in a beautiful church overlooking the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Even though we both meant what we said, neither of us really knew what we meant when we made those promises to love and stay committed to each other …

– through health and sickness,

– wealth and poverty,

– good and bad,

– until death separated us.

Little did we know that God would add to our family within the week. No, we had no plans for Ellie to get pregnant on our honeymoon, but nine months and five days after our wedding, our first son was born. And less than four months after his birth, Ellie was a nursing, stay-at-home mom with a suddenly unemployed husband. That wasn’t in our plans, but it was in our vows.

As a bride-to-be, Ellie had wanted to have four children, but when we said our vows, we weren’t thinking that God would add that fourth child just one week after our sixth anniversary. By then, we realized that having children was not going to be a problem for us.

Or so we thought.

Three of Ellie’s next four pregnancies ended in miscarriage. The one that did go full term came with lots of complications, including Ellie permanently losing all hearing in her left ear. Those were heart-wrenching times. But as God promises, weeping lasts for a nighttime, but joy comes in the morning.

Four years later, Ellie was pregnant with our seventh and final child when our family was devastated by the line-of-duty death of my Maui Police Officer brother. She and I never dreamed we’d ever go to Hawaii, much less to bury my brother there.

Romantic vacations haven’t really been part of our marriage history. In fact, most of my paychecks have only been enough to cover the basic necessities of a large family. There have even been some times where the fridge and pantry were almost bare. But God has always provided. Even though there have only been a few weeks of the past 29 years where I haven’t been employed, most of those jobs have been in journalism or ministry, neither of which is known for high salaries. When it comes to “for richer or poorer,” we’ve seen a lot of one, but not much of the other.

It wasn’t in our plans, but it was in our vows.

When a couple stands at the altar before their closest friends and most committed family members, everything seems perfect; the lifetime covenant they’re making to each other seems like a blank check drawn on the bank of happiness. They don’t foresee a time when the account is in danger of overdraft. They can hardly imagine the day when all those friends and family standing with them in the beginning aren’t there to help them through those emotional zero-balance days.

But the God who created them as individuals and brought them together in the covenant of marriage is there every minute of every day of their married life.

Ellie and I weren’t practicing believers when we married back in 1985. But God in His grace drew us to Himself. Each of us – independent of the other – made a personal commitment to Christ within 15 months of our vows. In the early years of marriage and parenting, we were able to grow in oneness with each other and with God.

We learned the significance of our marriage covenant as we learned how God covenanted with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and most importantly, through the New Covenant in Christ. Because God would not break His covenants, Ellie and I determined never to entertain the notion of divorce.

When I think back to the day we proclaimed our vows, in many ways I feel like I’m so much less impressive of a man than the one who boldly promised to love and cherish Ellie every day of his life. I haven’t been the best provider. I’m not a strong leader. I’m moody and easily frustrated and way too self-absorbed. And I know Ellie has her own list of ways she falls short of the woman with all those lofty vows nearly three decades ago.

“I do” is not just something you say to your spouse on your wedding day. “I do” is every word you say and every deed you do for the rest of your marriage. That’s what “I do” really means.

Ellie and I have had 10,592 days worth of opportunities to experience how much harder it is to say your vows on any given marriage day than on your wedding day. No matter how much we love each other, we let our guards down; selfishness is always ready to make an exception to a vow.

It takes a supernatural empowering of God’s Spirit for me to realize that marriage is more about what I can do for Ellie, than what she should be doing do for me. God promises – when I ask Him – to empower me with His Spirit, freeing me from the slavery to myself in order to love my wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Only through the limitless grace and unconditional love of His Spirit working in me can I fulfill my vows to Ellie like I promised to do back on May 18, 1985.

And it’s only by His Spirit that I can continue to be true to my promise for the next 30 years, or however many the Lord sees fit to give us together.

Ellie, I still do.

NEXT STEPS

1. To learn more about the value of keeping your vows, read Dennis Rainey’s article, “Five Ways to Keep Your Marriage Covenant.”

2. Listen to Doug and Patty Dailey talk about the crisis in their marriage on FamilyLife Today®.

3. Plan a weekend getaway with your spouse to spend time together and build your marriage – attend a Weekend to Remember® or one of the upcoming I Still Do® events in Chicago, Portland, or Washington, D.C.

 

 

No, cheaters never prosper



You drive along Interstate 30 in Little Rock, and there it is, a billboard with an astonishing message. It pictures three former U.S. presidents — Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton — along with the words:

Who said cheaters never prosper?  Happy Presidents’ Day!

This is the latest campaign from AshleyMadison.com, a highly profitable website with a most unusual clientele — people who are interested in committing adultery. If you register on the website, you can connect with others interested in cheating. As the website states:

Long gone are the days of working late and having an affair with the office secretary, with today’s technology the ability to have a discreet emotional or sexual affair is at your fingertips. You have definitely come to the right website. Ashley Madison’s married dating services can help you find that special someone who makes you feel young and alive again.

And yet Ashley Madison claims it merely facilitates cheating rather than promoting it. One of the more amazing statements on the website is, “No, Ashley Madison does not encourage anyone to stray or have an affair, despite our trademark, ‘Life is short, have an affair.’ In fact, if you are having difficulty in your marriage or relationship, you should seek counseling.”

Provocative statements

Ashley Madison’s founder is a Toronto entrepreneur named Noel Biderman. He and his wife say they are happily married with two children. But he also says that “Monogamy, in my opinion, is a failed experiment.”

Biderman tends to make provocative statements like that when defending his company. And he’s a master at deflecting criticism. “You eradicate Ashley Madison, you’re not going to eradicate infidelity. That’s what allows me to sleep at night.” Or, “If you think that all affairs happen on Ashley Madison, you’re very naive.”

Those are clever words. By addressing absurd accusations nobody would make, Biderman deflects legitimate complaints about making money from something most people consider to be immoral.

Apparently helping adulterers is a big business. And you wonder if Biderman considers any publicity as bad. Every time he defends the company against those who despise his product, that means more people are aware of that product. One could argue that even this article is only helping Ashley Madison.

Cheaters never prosper
The truth about adultery

Do cheaters prosper? In many respects, Ashley Madison only rehashes the excuses people have made for thousands of years about adultery: Guys can’t help themselves … It can often help marriages … We shouldn’t be too prudish about cheating … You need to let men sow their wild oats … etc., etc., etc.

Statements like these will encourage men (and women) who are unhappy in their marriages and are looking for some extramarital spice. But you and I know they are lies. The truth is that cheaters do not prosper.

For one thing, adultery destroys marriages. Ask yourself, why do so many people consider adultery such a betrayal? Why is it that Noel Biderman’s own wife says she would feel “devastated” if he cheated on her? It’s because sex as God designed it is much more than a physical act; it binds a couple together emotionally and spiritually in a way they can only partially understand. If your wife has sex with another man, the sense of hurt and betrayal cuts to the core of your soul.

Guys, what kind of impact do you think just one little cheating incident might have on your wife? As one woman said, “My husband wants me to stop bringing up his affair because he has ‘repented.’ What about me? He acts like nothing has happened, but I walk with anger. I cry out to God every day, but the hurt is still fresh.”

Second, adultery harms your legacy. Children feel the impact for many years to come. In most cases, it severely damages the relationship between the parent and child. In addition, the children may repeat that behavior when they are adults. Consider the story of one of the presidents pictured on the Ashley Madison billboard, John F. Kennedy. His womanizing is common knowledge now, but many don’t know how his behavior was influenced by his father, Joseph, who cheated on his wife regularly. His children knew it, and a number of them went on to be unfaithful to their own spouses. Few families in American history have accomplished as much as the Kennedys, but their legacy has also been clouded by reckless immorality.

Let’s be faithful

In response to the Ashley Madison initiative, FamilyLife has begun a campaign to encourage people to be faithful to their marriage vows. In fact, we’ve even created our own billboard for I-30 in Little Rock.

God offers the strength to withstand temptation, and the hope to build a lasting marriage. Cheaters never prosper. But those who trust in God do.

Note: For more on the “Stand Firm for Families” initiative, read “Doing Nothing Is Not an Option,” by Dennis Rainey and “A Billboard That Hurts Women and Children,” by Barbara Rainey.

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