Building a quality foundation for a marriage takes real commitment. This means taking the wedding vows seriously—something that is sadly lacking today.
In “Marriage and the Foundation Factor, Part 1,” I told about some of my experiences with leaky house foundations and the analogies I saw with the foundation of marriage—and how to build a marriage on a strong foundation.
A foundation is the launching pad, if you will, for the building that’s soon to follow. When two people love each other, they reach a point where they are willing to commit to one another, first in the form of an engagement and then eventually in binding marriage vows. This commitment is what really launches the marriage.
I still remember seeing our future daughter-in-law standing by a window in her lovely bridal gown, deeply engrossed in the contents of a small black book. It was just minutes before the wedding ceremony, and she was reading again the wedding vows she would soon recite in the presence of many witnesses.
I knew from past conversations that she had pondered passages in her Bible about husbands and wives and commitments. There was no doubt that she intended for this marriage to last “until death do us part.”
And when I heard our son repeat his vows as he looked into the shining eyes of his bride, I knew that he, too, was pledging his troth for a lifetime.
Sadly, statistics reveal that the idea of a commitment to a lifelong marriage has taken a real beating. Somehow marriage has become something quite utilitarian or even passé.
James Q. Wilson, author of The Moral Sense, says, “The contemporary legal system views people as autonomous individuals endowed with rights and entering into real or implied contracts. The liberalization of laws pertaining to marriage and divorce arose out of just such a view. Marriage, once a sacrament, has become in the eyes of the law a contract that is easily negotiated, renegotiated, or rescinded. Within a few years, no-fault divorce on demand became possible, after millennia in which such an idea would have been unthinkable” (as quoted in William J. Bennett’s The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, 1994).
The commitments of marriage
Alanson B. Houghton, in his book Partners in Love (1988), agrees that marriage is a contract that includes the following commitments:
- You commit yourself to another human being, which means you give a part of yourself to that person, and he or she, in turn, gives himself or herself to you. This is an exchange of the ultimate gift.
- You commit yourselves to each other’s well being—caring for him or her as much as you do yourself.
- You commit yourself to work at the marriage, expending effort, time, understanding and forgiveness.
- You commit yourself “for better and for worse,” a backdrop and landmark against which your integrity is measured.
- You commit in sickness and in health.
- You commit “to love and to cherish” each other until separated by death.
Houghton also cites Dr. Diogenese Allen’s defense of this beleaguered tenet of marriage:
“We are increasingly told today that commitment is not beautiful … that lifelong commitment in marriage is an arbitrary holdover from a bygone religious age. Actually, whatever marriage may be, it is not arbitrary. … A genuine marriage is a pledge of faith that we love enough to go into the future, with the confidence that another person is worthy of our lifelong devotion. It is also the humble reception of another person’s faith in our being worthy of his or her lifelong devotion.”
Commitment is the mortar that holds the marriage together.
“Marriage and the Foundation Factor, Part 3” will explore “Guarding Against Fissures.”
Learn more about biblical principles for a happy marriage relationship in our “Marriage” section.