Summary: Urges the couple to seek faithfulness and communication in their marriage. Appropriate for an Interfaith wedding.
You all know the story about fairytale marriages. A beautiful princess goes into a forest and sees a frog. She kisses the frog. He turns into a prince. They get married, and live happily ever after. Or maybe you remember the prince who searches through every house in town and won’t give up until he finds the woman whose foot fits in the tiny glass slipper. As soon as he finds Cinderella, they get married and live happily ever after. Jenny and Daniel are smart enough to know that real marriages don’t always end up "happily ever after." From their own relationship experience, they know that real marriages take lots of hard work, and frequently go down not so fairy-tale like paths. Today, Jenny and Daniel embark on an adventure in marriage together like none they’ve ever before experienced.
First and foremost in your marriage journey, you will need to commit to faithfulness in spite of circumstances. In marriage, we must learn to be faithful to our spouse. As husbands and wives, we pattern our faithfulness after God’s faithfulness to His people. Throughout the Bible, God continues to be faithful to us unfaithful human beings. We turn from God, we forget God, we offend God, we deny God, and we abandon God, but God does not give up on us. God keeps turning toward us, remembering us, forgiving us, affirming us, and staying by our side, no matter what we do. At Mt. Sinai and again on the cross outside Jerusalem, God remained faithful even when the people failed. Husbands and wives can learn from God’s faithfulness to love unconditionally and be faithful whether it’s easy or convenient or comfortable, or not.
Unfortunately, in our society, conditional love in marriage has become acceptable. If one partner cannot live up to the expectations of the other, there is a temptation to leave.
Marriages have failed over fertility issues, financial misunderstandings, sexual problems, communication mistakes, and even personality clashes. It has become acceptable to abandon a relationship because we’re not "getting enough out of it". Jenny and Daniel, during both the joys and sorrows of your marriage, the key issue is your faithfulness to each other and how much you both invest in your marriage relationship.
When you exchange wedding rings today, you will say, "I give you this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness". When you feel like you are moving apart, or when hurtful things are said or done, look to your rings as a symbol that reminds you of your vows to each other. If words are said in anger, don’t be afraid to tell each other: "Despite what has happened, despite what you may feel, and whatever you decide to do, I want you to know that I promised to remain faithful to you, and I will still keep loving you." Faithfulness and unconditional love are crucial ingredients in your marriage journey.
The second important tool along your journey of married life is communication. I must share with all of you something about Jenny and Daniel. One of the aspects of my premarital counseling with them was a personality inventory. They answered questions about themselves and then the inventories are scored and reported back to me. I have never seen a couple who looked so alike on paper. On almost all of the items, Jenny and Daniel replied the same. Self-confidence, anxiety, openness, communication. If one scored high, the other scored high. If one scored low, the other scored low. It was quite unusual. I had to make sure that indeed they had filled out two separate forms!
When a couple is so similar, when you live on the same wavelength most of the time, it can be tempting to slack off on communication. Jenny and Daniel, you might forget to talk with one another, assuming that your spouse feels the same way. Unfortunately, as much as I’ve learned about both of you, I’m aware that neither of you are particularly good mind readers. You will still have to verbally communicate with one another, talking about your feelings, sharing your concerns, working through barriers.
The well-known author, Madeleine L’Engle, in her book The Irrational Season (The Seabury Press, New York, 1977) writes about her long-time journey of marriage to actor Hugh Franklin:
"It’s an extraordinary thing to me that Hugh and I have been married for 29 years. It is also, I believe, a good marriage, although much of it would not seem to be so in terms of the kind of success commercials would hold out to us…
"My love for my husband and his for me is in that unknown, underwater area of ourselves where our separations become something new and strange, merge and penetrate like the drops of water in the sea. But we do not lose our solitudes, or our particularity, and we become more than we could alone.