Summary: This message was used as part of a service involving the renewal of wedding vows. The focus is on the reponsibilities of the husband and the wife in a marriage.

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Several years ago, the Saturday Evening Post published an article entitled “The Seven Ages of the Married Cold.” It revealed the reaction of a husband to his wife’s colds during their first seven years of marriage. It went something like this:

ü The first year: “Sugar dumpling, I’m really worried about my baby girl. You’ve got a bad sniffle, and there’s no telling about these things with all this strep throat going around. I’m putting you in the hospital this afternoon for a general checkup and a good rest. I know the food’s lousy, but I’ll be bringing your meals in from Rosini’s. I’ve already got it all arranged with the floor superintendent.”

ü The second year: “Listen, darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough. I called Doc Miller and asked him to rush over here. Now you go to bed like a good girl, please? Just for Papa.”

ü The third year: “Maybe you’d better lie down, honey: nothing like a little rest when you feel lousy. I’ll bring you something to eat. Have you got any canned soup?”

ü The fourth year: “Now look, dear, be sensible. After you’ve fed the kids, washed the dishes and finished the floor, you’d better lie down.”

ü The fifth year: “Why don’t you take a couple of aspirin?”

ü The sixth year: “I wish you’d just gargle or something, instead of sitting around all evening barking like a seal!”

ü The seventh year: “For Pete’s sake, stop sneezing! Are you trying to give me pneumonia?”

INTRODUCTION: Marriage has been described in many ways:

Marriage is a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing any who comes between them. Sydney Smith

Marriage is a bargain, and somebody has to get the worst of the bargain. Helen Rowland

In a successful marriage, there is no such thing as one’s way. There is only the way of both, only the bumpy, dusty, difficult, but always mutual path. Phyllis McGinley

Marriage is an adventure, like going to war. G.K. Chesterton

How much has our opinion changed about marriage. From a “till death do us part” relationship to “as long as we both shall love”. Marriage has moved from a enduring state to an emotional state, from vows of integrity to vows of suggestion, and from nuclear to extended. Somewhere in all of this marriage has lost the institutional strength God meant it to have. Divorce is easier than working through problems, adultery offers more excitement that a committed relationship, and children have been left to answer the question of who mommy and daddy really are.

Gone are the Cleavers, Petries, and Huxtables. They have been replaced by the Simpsons, the Bundy’s, and the Desperate Houswives.

But before we throw in the towel, so to speak on marriage, I think God would like to weigh in on the issue. He is the author and creator of marriage. He is the final authority on what still makes a strong marriage. And today, the world needs to see strong marriages.

We participated together in a renewal of vows this morning. Planned way back on Super Bowl Sunday. One was surprised, one was thrilled, and all of us were witnesses.

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