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It seemed at the moment of repeating vows, her beloved realized he had made a mistake and didn’t want to be married after all. They’d spent those months in counseling trying to work out what she’d first thought were wedding day jitters. So many hopes and expectations lay shattered in that broken relationship.

Marriage, though it is the most personal commitment a person can make apart from one’s commitment to God, is, by its very act, a community thing. The couple’s joy becomes everyone’s joy. Their hurt becomes everyone’s hurt. Remember Princess Diana, how the world watched in delight at her courtship and marriage? The expectations of a long life of happiness and royal magic? Then the dark side of the story came to light―the infidelities, the pain―and the world grieved with them.
Expectations! We all have them; of ourselves, of others, of God. Marriages are built on expectations. He and she expect that they will love each other forever. Each expects the other to put up with his or her personality traits and habits. Each expects the other will change to become more compatible or tolerant. Both might expect God to take away their troubles.

Time does many things. It can make us forgetful. It can magnify disparities. It can load us with guilt, pressure, or a sense of urgency for change.  It can weigh with a sense of failure until the door seems the only way out.

Third Partner

But, STOP! There is a Third Partner in every marriage, whether acknowledged or not. Christian marriage vows are taken before God, but as the Creator of marriage, God’s hand is upon all unions that seek to be honorable and are built on love and respect. (God does not author abuse, neglect or cruelty.)

A friend who believed in this Partner used to tell people who were struggling in their marriage relationship: “Be patient, things change.” Then he’d add, “I’ll be praying for you and your family.”

He knew that when the Third Partner was invited in by even one member of the marriage, things would change―maybe not in circumstances but in perceptions. Seeing marriage as greater than just two people bickering or one family struggling, can make a difference.

When two people on Earth make a commitment to each other to become a family and to join their earthly families together, they also become part of the larger family of community.  And wherever there is a commitment to show love and caring, there is the blessing and enabling of the Heavenly Family. Marriage is, after all, God’s design!

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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