As newlyweds, I think it’s important for us to take it upon ourselves to put in the work to continue to build on the pre-marital counseling my wife and I decided to get. It’s important to us that we are constantly thinking of ways to continue to work on our marriage, even though it is fresh and new. That said, I was in a group that we attend with other married couples and one of the discussion questions for the day was “How does society look at the part of our vows which says ‘til death do us part?” I want to address that question here, because it’s an important question to consider in the context of a marriage.
Options, or Lack Thereof
When we took our vows, the phrase ,‘til death do us part, was in the vows. For us, that removes options to do anything other than stay married. There is no alternative other than working through our problems, issues and challenges to get to a better tomorrow. Society, in recent years, has implemented divorce as an option. It’s important to note: once you consider divorce as an option, your marriage is already threatened.
I saw a quote recently that read “if the grass is greener on the other side, water your grass.” That’s a great way of saying work on your marriage, and remove anything else as an option. If someone’s life is at stake or other extremes, divorce would have to be considered. By and large, this is not the case in most marriages. Many people that I talk to would consider divorce because they are unhappy. One of my early questions when I have conversations where people are unhappy is, “have you expressly communicated what makes you happy and how to provide that happiness?” So many people, both men and women, have not had an open conversation on what happiness looks like for them.
Happiness is only one criteria. There are many other things that can jeopardize a relationship if there has not been clear communication. It is extremely important to note before the wedding that there are no options. If you can profess ‘til death do you part in the vows, you have to understand the magnitude of the promise and you must be willing to keep the promise you made to your spouse, regardless of the situation. The vow does not say, “Until death do us part, unless I decide it’s time to consider a different option.” Honor your spouse and your commitment to your relationship by never allowing any option besides building a better marriage.
The reason we often consider other options is because of drama. There are examples of people who feel that they are uncomfortable, unhappy, or things just aren’t working in their favor, so they need to get out of a marriage. Let me be the bearer of bad news, drama is going to appear in your relationship. You may not start it, may not even have anything to do with it, but some form of drama is coming. The drama I see as a coach is often worse than the drama you see on reality shows. The great thing is, all drama is fleeting if you are willing to put in the work. It could be an unwelcomed opinion of a parent, infidelity, unemployment, irresponsibility or any number of little things that want to infiltrate your home and mess up your situation—they will all eventually run their course.
The ultimate decision is how you choose to handle the drama. Even when you or your spouse cause the drama, if you stand firm that “we’re not going anywhere, we’re going to work this out” then you are remembering and honoring your vows. Whatever the situation, if you make a commitment that there is no alternative but to stay married and no amount of drama is going to get me out of this marriage, what you are really saying to yourself, your spouse and the world is: I am always going to work to make our marriage better and make our marriage last.
I take the words “Until death do us part” to really mean “I promise and choose to love you forever, no matter what may come to pass.” Forever is a long time, but when you get married, you agree that’s what you want, that’s what you choose and you are 100% committed to seeing it through.
BMWK – What does “til death do us part” mean to you?