Not happily ever after

How is this for the start of a marriage homily: Marriage is not ‘happily ever after’ it will end in heartbreak. I actually said these words at a wedding I officiated. The couple was not young nor was it their first marriage. She had been divorced from what sounds like an abusive husband. He was married for 42 years and lost his wife to brain cancer. Both of them were heartbroken from those experiences.

I also thought about my uncle and aunt. They were married 62 years. When she died, he was heartbroken. I really don’t know anyone that has lost a loved one that isn’t broken hearted. This is the way it should be.

In a wedding ceremony, each person exchange vows that say, “I take you to be my wedded wife/husband to have and to hold from this day forward, for better—for worse, for richer—for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge you my faith.” ‘Til death us do part’ is when the vows are fulfilled completely.

Keeping the vows, being committed to each other through the good times and the bad, brings each person closer to the other. It creates an atmosphere where love grows. And love should grow. It grows through learning to be patient with each other’s faults, weaknesses, immaturity, and failures.

Marriage certainly isn’t all bad. There are times of great joy and excitement. It’s just that most anyone can stay together in the good times. We grow in love when we suffer and struggle together.

You have to let down your guard to experience this kind of love. You have to surrender your desire to keep from being hurt or disappointed. As that happens, you give yourself without inhibition to the other. This is dangerous because this involves risk. In other words, we know how the story ends; we just focus on the journey, not the destination. Also, without the risks you will never experience the rewards love has to offer.

At funerals, I have heard lots of people that say they are glad their loved one is in a better place. They were thankful for the life they had together. I believe them. I just know they are not happy to be missing the person that was such a huge part of their lives. They are heartbroken.

Marriage will not end happily, but the heartbreak does not last forever. In time and with the help of others, we begin to heal. We begin to realize that we experienced life with someone that knew us better than anyone else, and still loved us. That we knew what it meant to be loved truly and passionately. We become reasonably sure that the life we lived with them was by far a better life than a life that never had them in it.

Marriage may not end ‘happily ever after’ but it is ‘joyous along the way.’

I pray that you would have the kind of marriage that when the vows are complete and your love has been lost to death, that you would experience heartbreak. It is the one sure way to know that you truly lived and loved.

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