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Updated: Nov 1, 2022

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."

By this time next week I will be in Boston for our daughter’s wedding and I thought I would share that our daughter asked both my wife and I to read something during her wedding ceremony and to pick anything we each felt inspired to share. Our daughter's ceremony will be a blend of secular, Christian, and Jewish traditions got me to thinking quite a bit about what I felt inspired to read.

All the thinking took me back to 1991 when I was only five years into my own marriage and a book I read while in the Army and deployed for several months to a lonely desert and missing my wife terribly. I borrowed the book from my Battalion Chaplain and it really transformed my thoughts and commitment to my marriage. I read that book every chance I had whether it was before a few hours of precious sleep or while laying prone in the dirt on a perimeter and reading by the red light of a military flashlight. In looking back to those moments, I see now how that book fit with my "I get to" (versus "have to") mentality in seeing marriage as something I could do (work at and invest in), and not something I was passively just "in."

So, I plan to tell my future son-in-law publicly about how reading that book inspired me to be a better husband and I hope it is a learning point for all in attendance. I'm sharing it in case you're interested or might find inspiring!

When Does a Marriage Begin?

"It's not when two people fall in love, or the first time two people make love, and it's not when two people move in and live together.

So, when does marriage being? Marriage begins when two people make the clear, unqualified promise to be faithful, each to the other, until the end of their days. That spoken promise makes the difference. A new relationship is initiated. Marriage begins when each vows to commit herself, himself, unto the other and to no other human in this world: "I promise you my faithfulness, until death parts us." That vow, once spoken, once heard, permits a new, enduring trust: each one may trust the vow of the other one. And that vow forms the foundation of the relationship to be built upon it hereafter.

A promise made, a promise witnessed, a promise heard, remembered, and trusted - this is the groundwork of the marriage. Not emotions. No, not even love. Not physical desires or personal needs or sexuality. Not the practical fact of living together. Not even the piercing foresight of some peculiar miracle of All-seeing god. Rather, a promise, a vow, makes the marriage. "I promise you my faithfulness, until death parts us."

Here is a marvelous work, performed by those who are made in the image of God - for we create, in the promise, a new thing, a changeless stability in an ever-changing world. We do the thing that God does, establishing a covenant with another human being: we pledge faith in our faithfulness to that covenant. We transfigure the relationship thereafter,

transfiguring ourselves, for we shape our behaviors by the covenant. A new ethic has begun for each of us. We have called forth a spiritual house in which each of us may dwell securely. Whether we know it or not, it is a divine thing we do, and it is holy."

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