The Meaning of the Marriage Covenant
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Matthew 19:6
“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
One who is yet childish in his thinking thinks that marriage is a wedding ceremony, and that to get married is to wear a white dress or a beautiful suit and to celebrate. But marriage is a tie that we bind with another person, and from which we have no way of backing out. From the very moment in which we enter into a covenant with the spouse, we are obligated to remain with them, for better or for worse.
We tend to think only about the good, and not about the bad. However when entering into a marriage covenant we are actually declaring that regardless of what will happen we will remain together, even if this will be difficult. This indeed is true love, which is willing also to suffer. You would not want him or her to leave you if all of a sudden you were to fall sick with some serious illness? Or you would not want them to leave you if all of a sudden you were to be without money? So likewise you cannot leave your spouse even in difficult situations.
In addition, married life is completely different from single life and even from the dating period of the couple (the “friendship” period). Married life can seem as a heavy burden to one who did not understand what he was getting into, since there are all kinds of concerns that one must take care of, and there are needs of the spouse that have to be provided for. When the couple go out together before the marriage, it may be that they allow themselves to spend more money than what they would normally spend for going on trips, or to go to out to a restaurant or coffee shop. However once they are married things change, and there are all kinds of expenses to be taken into account, so that it is not feasible to continue as they did during the dating period. I recommend talking with newly married couples, and asking them about married life, in order to get a more realistic impression about married life. Do not rest satisfied with answers such as: “Married life is a wonderful thing!” or “There is nothing like being married!”. Ask this type of question: “Is it difficult to get used to living together?”, “How much does it cost to rent an apartment?”, “What are the monthly expenses for food and taxes?”, “Do you encounter problems and disagreements in opinions? How do you overcome them?”
He or she who enters into married life being aware of the meaning of the marriage covenant, understanding what being married means in a practical way, will spare himself or herself surprises and disappointments.
Married life is truly wonderful, but it is important for us to have a correct understanding, that we may know what to expect. Those who don’t understand what is the meaning of the marriage covenant, that it is a covenant till death separates you, will make a decision to marry with an attitude of lightness, without thinking about the fact that there is no way back, and that there is no second chance. The moment that you enter into a marriage covenant, God sees you and your spouse as one, which cannot be split apart any more. God “hates putting away” (divorce, Malachi 2:14-16), and believers who get married must not think the way of the unbelieving world, that “If we don’t get along, well it’s not that bad, we’ll divorce”. This is not an option that is available. The marriage covenant is indeed an obligation toward the other person and toward God, to be faithful to the other person for the whole duration of your life, and regardless of the circumstances. This is a very serious commitment, and it is very important to understand its meaning, in order not to make mistakes.
I believe that many couples got to the point of divorce because they did not understand the meaning of the marriage covenant as it should be understood. Marriage is “for better or for worse”, till death separates the couple, and it is important to understand that there is always also the bad and the unpleasant in the married life. But this is not a reason to separate and to break the marriage covenant.
I hope that you don’t believe that marriage is just a marriage ceremony and a wedding celebration, but rather a covenant (wonderful, constructive, and for better or worse) until death. He who understands this will spare himself a lot of pain, mistakes, and disappointments.