While I was in
Washington, D.C., I met a young lady who had just
quit her job. She told me that she and her boyfriend
were moving to New England to "practice".
I asked .
answered matter-of-factly. "We're going to practice
marriage, and if it all works out, we may get married
next year or the year after. "
Now, I have to
agree that marriage takes practice. But I believe
the practice necessary for a successful marriage should
come after a couple is married, not before.
law and doctors practice medicine, but both get licensed
and admitted to such practice before they begin doing
A wedding is the
admission ceremony to the legitimate practice of marriage.
Aside from all the spiritual benefits available from
the wedding ceremony, it marks the formal beginning
of a commitment between a man and a woman to each
People enjoy attending
weddings because they are filled with hope for the
future. But hope won't make a marriage last.
At a wedding,
promises are made. But promises won't make a marriage
Hope and promises
are important, of course, but they are important because
they can and should lead to the third and most important
aspect of marriage, the commitment between two mature
adults to continuously work at making the marriage
succeed. And a successful marriage does take work!
Furthermore, both parties have to participate in that
work. They have to continuously "practice" if you
will, at making the marriage go well for each other.
The practice of
medicine and the practice of law can be rewarding.
The "practice" of marriage can be even more so.
The young lady
and her boyfriend who intend to move to New England
are not working towards a successful marriage. They
are playing at it. They may have hope that something
will come of it. They may have even made some promises
to one another. But they have made no formal commitment
to one another. As a consequence, their relationship
has no stability, and will never have stability until
such formal commitment is made and practiced.
When two people
marry, they pledge to face together whatever the future
may hold in store for them. That future may be either
good or bad, but generally it is a combination of
both. When times are good, people stay together. When
times are bad, divorces occur.
not occur, however, if men and women are emotionally
mature before entering into a marriage. Emotionally
mature people realize even when things go wrong, it
is far better to face those bad times with a partner
who will work with you to make them better, than it
is to face those bad times alone.
No divorce ever
occurred in a marriage where both parties were mature
and worked together towards making the marriage succeed.
Divorces only occur when one or both parties are immature,
or where one or both never started, or have stopped,
working at making a successful marriage.
This month Barb
and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
We've seen the richer and poorer part, and we've seen
the sickness and the health part, and even though
I'm sure we've faced bad times during those 20 years,
I can't remember any. I guess that's because when
the bad times came, Barb was always there to help
me through them, and so maybe they passed unnoticed.
And with all the
practice we've had, I'm looking forward to working
with her for another 20 years, and God willing, another
20 years after that.