I first officiated a wedding when I was an Intern Pastor, before I was ordained. Unfortunately, that couple eventually got divorced. I have officiated quite a few weddings since then. While most of the couples are happily married, some marriages have ended in divorce. Whenever this happens, I feel guilty and partly responsible.
The couples that got divorced all had something in common: I didn’t know them personally when I married them. They were usually children of our church members. And they were in a hurry to get married. This observation led to my decision to only marry couples who completed a 6-week premarital counseling class.
Pastor Lee does premarital counseling, and in his experience, the couples he thought were not ready for marriage eventually got divorced. So he and I decided to refuse to officiate weddings when we think that the couple is not ready and they insist in getting married immediately, ignoring our suggestion to wait. We feel that we are deceiving God when we help couples make wedding covenants when we are fully aware that they will not able to keep their vows.
Many marriages end in divorce because the couples want instant happiness.
A research report on marriage says that the enemies of happy marriages are fairy tales and romantic novels, which give the impression that romantic love lasts forever and that couples can live romantically happy ever after. The expectation of a continued level of high romantic love in marriage based on such fantasies makes married couples focus on their spouse’s shortcomings, which leads to disappointment and anger. The report suggests that the secret to happy marriages is to expect and be prepared for occasional unhappy times in your marriage.
According to one medical study, the hormone that leads to romantic feelings towards a person ebbs after two years at most. No matter how passionately a person may feel toward someone, that feeling fades in two years. So young people should not rely on romantic feelings alone in choosing their spouse. They must not seek instant happiness, but pursue happiness that can come after 10 years.
When young people meet a potential spouse, they must ask this question: “Is this person worthy of investing 10 years of toil and heartache to achieve happiness later?” If the answer is yes, marry the person, even if you see shortcomings in the person. If the answer is no, do not marry them, no matter how strongly you are attracted to that person.
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