Couples who keep those vows, even when those vows feel like a trap, often find that something beautiful happens as they endure the hardship. Things get better. They learn to love each other. God grows beautiful things in what looks like a garden of clay if we stick with it long enough and keep our promises even when we don’t feel like it.
The date was 1990. I was a newly engaged seminary student. Just a few weeks earlier, I’d proposed to Char, and she’d accepted. We were planning our wedding which was going to take place just a few months later.
I sat in the seminary classroom near the back. The subject: marriage counselling. The professor: a Christian counsellor. Notebook open, pen in hand, I couldn’t wait to learn about the journey I was about to begin.
I wasn’t prepared for what he said.
“Marriage is a steel trap,” he said.
I looked up, not sure if I was hearing him correctly.
The professor continued to explain. He’d enjoyed a good first marriage that ended with his wife’s death. Since then, he’d remarried, and found that his second marriage was a lot harder. In the first year of his second marriage, he found himself thinking that he’d made a terrible mistake. He knew divorce was not an option, but he found himself thinking of ways to escape.
But he couldn’t. Marriage was a steel trap. You can get into it, but it doesn’t easily let you go.
They stayed together and struggled. As they did, he found that marriage got easier. He learned to love his new wife. He began to enjoy their marriage. It was still hard and still required work, but being trapped together taught them to love each other, and they began to grow their relationship.