I have 31 years of empirical evidence that I married a saint. My wife has now put up with me ever since we wed on June 28, 1980.
The big day was in Kristiansand, Norway, in her home church. My family from America (Chicagoland) was there to witness, as Kirsti and I said, “Ja, I do” in our bilingual service.
It’s been a happy marriage. Thankfully, we spent more time preparing for the marriage than we did for the wedding. We made a commitment before we got married that we would freely discuss the d-word (divorce), but that after we got married, we would never mention it, not even in jest. We have kept that agreement.
Ben Franklin once said, Before you get married, keep both eyes wide open. After you get married, keep them both half-closed.
Little would we realize at the time we got married how rare we would be as a couple, whose marriage has lasted so long in contemporary America. I even met someone at church once who told me that she had been married to her husband on the very same day (June 28, 1980) in Ohio. Only, sad to say, they were divorced after seven years or so.
What’s happened to marriage?
The New York Times called America a “post-marital society.” Tragically, that seems to be accurate.
I say tragically because marriage is good. It’s good for your spiritual health, your mental health, your physical health, your fiscal health, your sexual life. In short, it’s good all around.
In fact, a classic book by Peggy Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, documents all these things. They even show that people who are married live longer and happier.
So why has marriage hit such hard times in our society?
“Marriage is a wonderful institution,” said Mae West famously. “But who wants to live in an institution?”
I read a release from National Marriage Week USA that in 1970, 79% of adults were married, but only 57% were married in 2008. Some 40% of children are now born in America out of wedlock. In the black community, 72% of children are born without married parents. Indeed, marriage has fallen on hard times in our day.
I believe that ultimately marriage is a spiritual picture. When tens of millions of viewers all around the world saw William and Kate tie the knot at Westminster Abbey in London several weeks back, they heard some of the Church officials mention the traditional belief that marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride-the Church. That’s why marriage is so special.
Perhaps, that’s why marriage is under attack in America-seemingly from all quarters, such as:
• No-fault divorce laws which make it easy to get divorced, even if only one wants out. Imagine trying to do business with someone, where the other person can simply opt out when he/she feels like it;
• People living together before they get married (if they get married). Surveys have shown that cohabitation generally better prepares a couple for divorce more than for a happy marriage;
• The feminist assault. One of the leaders said (long before she herself got married) that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle;
• The gay attempt to redefine marriage. Just last week, the Republican-led New York legislature voted in same-sex marriage in that state;
• The Marxist attack to do away with it. Karl Marx says in the Communist Manifesto that he believed in the “Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.”
Many today think marriage is unnecessary. They think marriage is misery and singleness is bliss. Monogamy sounds like with monotony. It’s boring, supposedly. Who wants to be confined to just one spouse?
Modern Western man may condemn the primitive cultures which practice polygamy. But we have “serial polygamy,” one wife (or girlfriend) after another.
I think one of the biggest myths of all about marriage is that all that matters are feelings. But feelings come and go.
I remember a friend from high school who got married about five years before I did. But the marriage didn’t last. After about a year of marriage, he and his wife got into a fight. He said, “Well, do you love me anymore?” She said, “I don’t know.” He said, “That’s it, I want a divorce.” And they got divorced. They were slaves to their feelings.
I also believe marriage should not become your god. One time I was on the road around Valentine’s Day. I called a florist to request flowers to be sent to my wife, and I asked for this message to accompany the flowers:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
I love you the most,
Except for you know who.
The florist didn’t understand this message and was initially reluctant to send it. But Kirsti picked up on it right away. (The Lord has come first in our relationship. That’s why we’re still happily married.)
So happy anniversary, dear. And thanks for putting up with me for all these years.