The Marriage Covenant

To commence this article I would like to show as an example this remarkable photo of our Monarch, the Queen and Prince Philip who’s marriage has survived and thrived through the rigours of a long and responsible life amidst expectations and the stress of the worlds highest office.

When people ask me what is the secret to a long lasting marriage, I am tempted to use notable people as examples while in fact the secret can be found in the pages of the Bible.

Scriptures such as : Mark 10:9;  Romans 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:10; and of course Matthew 5:32 clearly show what God thinks about Marriage and what forms the foundation to Christian Marriage.

Now I’m not trying to be legalistic here but there has to be a foundation to Marriage.

In my opinion it has to be more than feelings of a need for love, trust, romance and sexual chemestry .

You see when tough times come in marriage and they will!

When financial stress or overwhelming emotional confusion tries to tare you apart and it will!

When a more attractive option, a “plan B”  appear on your horizon and it will!

When you feel you have been verbally humiliated and misunderstood and you will!

There has to be something more  to hold your marriage together than love, trust and romance or tender loving care, TLC.  

I would suggest two things.

  1. Firstly and primarily the bottom line for a long lasting marriage is summed up in the word Covenant.

It is the name of the game!

You have to remind yourself and steadfastly determine to keep the vows that you took in your Covenant of Marriage “Till death do us part” and “What God hath joined together let no man/woman put asunder”.

This is a binding covenant under God, its a spiritual Vow not a human contract that can be broken.

It is a character issue, that you are a person of your word.

When a Covenant is “broken” it sets into motion extreme emotional, psychological and even physical reactions in the human body & persona.

That is why when a partner defects from the covenant of marriage a new story has to be imprinted upon the mind of the defector to justify the decision to God.

Its called “Deception.”

That is why divorce is such a painful experience to believers and non-believers alike.

All kinds of reasons are given to justify separation and divorce.

Verbal and emotional abuse is the most common excuse used in this hedonistic self seeking world.

Self justification becomes a classic sport as you re write the rules of marriage in your mind.

When sexual chemistry in a marriage has lost its “glue” to fulfil,  the sexual abuse theme is often trotted out to justify a separation or divorce.

Many of these issues can be resolved with prolonged commitment to professional counselling.

On the other hand they may not!

The trouble is, the hedonistic mindset says ‘I deserve to be happy and I’m not going to live the rest of my life in this unhappy relationship’.

Ironically the real victims are the ones loved most by the couple, the children of the relationship.

They pay a price for their parents sin at a time when they are most vulnerable, which leaves them with hidden psychological questions that effects them the rest of their lives.

If I may say so, on behalf of the children, “in most cases divorce is not worth it”! 

  2. Secondly you have to recognise that the bottom line for a long lasting marriage is summed up in the word Selflessness.

It is a selfless act.

It is a decision to live selflessly in the interest of your marriage partner or your children.

It can be done and millions can testify that it is the best and only way to make a marriage work.

Selflessness is the key word.

It is worth it in the long run!

When you choose wilfully to leave a marriage consider the hurt, pain, psychological trauma and life dis-function it will imprint upon your children and the legacy it leaves upon your family & future generations.

You never get over it!

Its like a stone thrown into a pond with the ripples going on and on.

Its just not worth it!

It’s not just yourself that is affected but many others that surround your life.

It is perhaps one of the most selfish acts know to mankind.

On the other hand when you die to self and choose the path of selflessness, history has shown that it is possible to turn things around when a spirit of selflessness is committed to.

Love, trust & respect can be revived.

It may take time and it may not be easy but in the long term it is best for your health and that of your entire family and the community that you influence by your life.

For Betty & I divorce has never been a rational or spiritual option.

We have tried hard to keep it that way because of the Covenant we made to each other under God, on the 9th May 1964.

Have I been perfect as a husband? Of course not!

Have we had a happy marriage? For most of our life – Yes!

Has our marriage been perfect? No!

Have thoughts of fleeing ever past through our mind? Sometimes!

Have we ever had to face family tragedy, disappointment & failure? Yes and painfully so!

“Then what was the glue that kept our marriage together”  you ask? – Covenant.

In saying that I totally empathise with people like Michael & Lindy Chamberlain who’s marriage dissolved under the extreme weight of emotional stress as a result of their ordeal & wrongful conviction over the death of their baby daughter Azaria at Uluru (Ayres Rock) in central Australia.

I for one, do not judge them or condemn others who have passed through the deep waters of divorce.

Until we have walked in their shoes we can never understand the kind of pressure that ultimately leads to divorce.

For Lindy Chamberlain “it was not because they did not love each other, but they were so exhausted and their spirit was so crushed, they ceased to inspire each other.”

When the emotional bond is so crushed, sometimes there is no alternative but to leave peacefully as possible and let God be the judge.

In Conclusion, after over 50 years of marriage, I would have to say looking back, that I’m glad that by God’s grace and not ‘good luck’, we were able to have kept the bottom line, the Covenant of Marriage.

It wasn’t without crisis but it was worth it!

You see as you come into old age, other issues arise and the filters that once governed your behaviour are less active.

This too can lead to challenges in marriage.

On the other hand growing older can be a blessing!

Your memory tends to fade and you forget about the past hurts and failures that have been forgiven yet have remained in your memory for so long.

Even the pain that others have caused you tends to fade in your memory and loses it power to hurt you.

The disappointments become less painful and the cycle of life turns and you become closer friends and carers for each other.

You have a shared life history that daily fills the conversation of your life and you are able to share your experience with others.

As you look back in thankfulness it gives meaning to the Covenant of Marriage.

If I may say so, it takes more than 50/50 to keep a marriage together, it takes 100% of self denial.

Betty has been the jewel in my crown and the unifying strength and rock of our marriage and family.

I love & honour her!

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