Over the past few weeks, I have had a couple of meetings with a group of premarital couples. They are excited about their upcoming marriage—full of hope and promise of what will be. They sit closely to one another and smile liberally. In some ways their enthusiasm is infectious and a great reminder of the thrill that marriage is intended to incite. Over the past few weeks, I have also met with several crisis couples—some of whom appear on the verge of divorce. They are frazzled about a marriage that feels like bondage—full of criticism and despair. Their verbal and non-verbals communicate disdain and even contempt. In some ways their despair is infectious and a stark reminder of what happens when a marriage drifts apart. What do I say to those premarital couples to guide them away from the path of these married couples in crisis? I want to tell them about Ruth’s prayer.
Whether you wed thirty years ago or thirty days ago, there is a promise within your marriage. This is not a human promise of words and good intentions, nor a promise subject to social morays or political persuasion. Sadly, the promises that seal wedding vows are all too frequently broken by “irreconcilable differences.” ”To love and to cherish” devolves into “to compromise and to tolerate” or, in more painful marriages, “to search and destroy”. These earthly promises, however well-intentioned, fluctuate with the prevailing winds of personal feelings and the opinions of others and are therefore, as many of us know from experience, unreliable. This has been the path of these couples in crisis.
But, there is another path–Ruth’s prayer.