Doing Life Together

embassy-2052553_1920The wedding day was just like she dreamed it would be. Dressed in a stunning designer gown, surrounded by beautiful bouquets of flowers, a handsome groom and gracious guests, the $20,000 price tag was a financial stretch. But Julie wanted a wedding to remember. Unfortunately, the wedding became her complete focus and not the man she married. She hardly knew him, but desperately wanted to have a dream wedding and be with someone. Two years later, at the age of 26, Julie divorced.

Her friend Amber shared a similar fate. She married a man who complemented her ambitious career. The two were known as the “power couple”. In truth, the couple was a poor match. No longer able to cope with constant marital turmoil, Amber joined her friend Julie and became one of the growing number of young women married and divorced while still in their 20s.

What surprised me was the attitude both women shared toward their “failed experiments”. They saw their first marriages as good rehearsals for the real thing. Now older and wiser, they were ready to take on the challenges of a second marriage.

As first generation children of divorce, these two women knew the pain of divorce but consoled themselves with the fact that they were hurting no one since children had not entered the picture. And these “practice marriages” seemed to be in vogue in Hollywood with such notables as Drew Barrymore, Angelina Jolie and others.

“Starter marriages” as they are sometimes called are first time marriages that last less than 5 years and yield no children. These short-lived marriages are often viewed as practice for a second matrimonial try. But can marriage and divorce really be relegated to rehearsal status? There are those in the culture who would like you to think so but don’t be fooled. Marriage is about lifelong commitment no matter how people try to spin it. Two become one in a holy union before God.

Because marriage involves spirit, soul and body, severing the union creates intimacy problems. Dissolving a union on paper doesn’t end the emotional fallout. The breaking of the covenant is devastating no matter how short-lived or childless it is. Divorce leaves you feeling vulnerable, betrayed, confused, anxious, guilty, fearful, sad, depressed ,angry and frustrated. And because of the sexual intimacy of marriage, a broken marriage often leaves women feeling as if a part of them was lost.

Those who declare “starter marriages” as positive steps to future happiness are not being honest with themselves. Don’t be fooled by this veiled attempt to minimize the emotional damage of divorce. Only God can take a broken covenant and bring good out of the situation. He can heal and mend the broken heart but He’d rather have you honor your vows. That was His intention from the beginning.

The best prevention against a “starter marriage” is to take marriage vows seriously and understand the sacred covenant you will enter. Don’t look for an easy escape route. Take the necessary time to really get to know someone before the wedding day. God’s desire is for you to finish any marriage you start.

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