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Rebecca Hagelin / Nov. 24, 2009

The Promise of Marriage

I am a very blessed woman: This week I will have been married to my wonderful husband Andy for 25 years. He is a very patient man!

Before we were married Andy made it clear that he would walk by my side for life – that he would love and stick with me through thick and thin, no matter what. I also made the same promise to him.

It has to start with that – a sacred vow between two people before God.

The promise is supposed to be kept not based on how you “feel” at any given moment, or whether or not it becomes “convenient” to see it through. The promise is kept because you made it – simply because you said you would. I’m convinced that one of the reasons so many marriages fail is because our culture doesn’t value the basic principles of honor and integrity and what it means to give your “word”.

The marriage promise is the foundation upon which happy families are formed. When a man and woman are mature and selfless enough to do what it takes to stay true to their promise, everyone wins. The social science data is very clear on the many benefits of sound marriages for husbands, wives and children. As the Center for Marriage and Family at the American Values Institute puts it, “Marriage is the good that produces so many other goods”:

“Marriage is linked to higher levels of health and happiness and lower levels of alcohol and drug abuse for both adults and teens. Marriage is a wealth-creating institution: married people earn more, save more, and build more wealth, compared to people who are single or living together. There is an inverse relationship between marriage and crime: in communities where marriage is common, crime is much less common. Marriage is our most pro-child institution. It is our society’s best arrangement for helping children to thrive.”

But if you are having trouble in your marriage right now, it’s not the social science that matters. It’s the fact that you are miserable, broken-hearted and maybe even about to fail in the single most important relationship in your life.

Don’t let it be that way. There was a reason you and your spouse got married in the first place – a reason why you were both willing to promise your lives to each other. Find it. Find the reason, strip away the garbage, learn to forgive where needed, and start afresh to build upon the foundation you created on your wedding day.

If your marriage is experiencing a rough period, please take action right now. There are wonderful people and organizations that want to help you succeed. My husband and I are friends with a couple whose marriage was saved partially by attending one of the Weekend to Remember conferences sponsored by Family Life Today. These marriage-enriching conferences have been attended by more than one million couples over the years with astounding results. You and your spouse can plan to attend the upcoming conference in the Washington, DC area by registering at www.FamilyLifeToday.com. Their website also features life-changing advice and materials on everything from “romance and sex”, to “challenges and conflicts”.

The National Institute for Marriage is another marriage-saving resource that offers intensive counseling designed for couples who feel “stuck and hopeless”. You can download free materials at www.NationalMarriage.com. They even have a toll-free number that can help you decide what your next step should be. If your marriage is in trouble or just less than you hoped for, then put down the newspaper, pick up the phone and call 1-866-875-2915.

Andy will probably tell you that being married (at least to me) includes laughter - and frustration. (Like I said, he is a very patient man.) For that, and for so many wonderful days and nights, and for his abiding love, I love him from the depths of my heart and soul.

Happy Anniversary, My Love. Thank you for being a man of your word.

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