[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
Every time I hear of a couple divorcing my first thought is “What happened?” I have had this conversation with many married people as I ponder on what happens to two people who really love each other. What happens to the love that they felt towards each other prior to and during their wedding ceremony? At the wedding they vow to honour and cherish each other. They vow to be there for better or for worse; in sickness and in health; for richer or for poorer. They beam with pride at the mere mention of their beloved’s name.
Fast forward to months after the wedding or the first few years of marriage and we hear that the two people cannot stand each other. They do not want to be in the same room together. What happened to the beaming, radiant smiles? What happened to the tender voices, the gentle touches, the embraces? Where there was once laughter there is intentional hurt. What happened? People who file for divorce normally list “irreconcilable differences” as factors that have contributed to the marriage dissolving. What are these differences that are so powerful that they separate and break up vows made before God and man?
No longer patient
When I asked my mother in law this question “What happens to a couple…?”She said simply that people are no longer patient. Isn’t it interesting that in the famous Biblical love passage the writer starts with saying “Love is patient. love is kind’
As I thought about what my mother in law said I realised how loaded that statement is. In this busy, fast paced life that we live we have somehow adopted that kind of impatient mentality to even our marriage. If the spouse does not get it right and seems to be struggling there is always a better one to take her place. It is no longer love that endures all things. Instead of love enduring all things, it is love tolerates all things to a point. If one is no longer served by this relationship, if one is uncomfortable and there is a level of discomfort then he is out. “Ï didn’t sign up for this” they say. It is not uncommon these days to hear of people divorcing within a year.
Life is full of twists and turns. There are many mountains to climb. It might feel like you are sailing beautifully with everything falling into place one minute and then you find yourself being swallowed by life the next. You might be cruising beautifully with your beloved, living the fairytale and then life happens. When we plan our life, indeed when we dream of how we want our life to be, none of us imagine sickness, lack, disability, constantly fighting with your spouse.
We imagine a beautiful life with everything going smoothly. Most of us get married hoping for a fairy tale. We say our vows really thinking that life will be for the better. We do not think of the worse. We say we will love in sickness and in health. For most of us we do not imagine the sickness; we do not see the bad times. We look at life with rose coloured glasses. But what if the clear skies in your journey turn to cloudy? What if the one that you vowed your all to falls ill; what if the one who provided the life you dreamed off loses his wealth. What if the girl of your dreams loses her looks — would you still be committed? Does your love have limits?
It is safe to say with the divorce rate the way it is all over the world many people choose to leave when the going gets tough. Marriage is not easy. It needs two committed people for it to work. You cannot afford to be lazy in marriage and expect it to prosper. It needs to be nurtured because anything that is not nurtured eventually dies.
We need to ask ourselves if we truly love unconditionally. When the looks fade, when the money is no more, when the body gets frail, when life throws its curve balls would we still be committed to the vows that we made. Would we continue to love and cherish or would we abandon the ones we love. I am reminded of the story of Suzyo Muzuri, 28 and Diniwe Bowa, 27. Suyo was involved in a car accident two weeks before his wedding to Diniwe. He lost his right leg but instead of postponing or cancelling the wedding, the couple chose to go ahead with the wedding at the hospital. Against all odds they exchanged their vows in front of their family and friends. What would you have done? What makes a person commit no matter what and another to walk away? I also know a man who chose not to go ahead with the wedding after he found out that his fiancé was HIV positive a week before their wedding. Was he wrong? Did he not love her enough? Only he can answer that.
There are many scenarios that would cause one to say enough is enough!!! Is there a limit to your love? What about betrayal? Would you forgive a betrayal, an infidelity? These are questions that you and I need to ask ourselves if our marriages are to stand the test of time. A couple of weeks ago the country woke up to the news that ProVerb’s wife cheated on him. Instead of leaving her ProVerb forgave his wife and they are working out the challenges in their marriage. Would you have stayed? Love in its purest form has no limits. It has no conditions. Love loves! Love believes all things. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. None of us are perfect and we would do well to extend grace to others when they sin against us because we will need that grace extended to us when (not if) we sin against them.
Christ loved us when we were still sinners. He did not wait until we were clean for Him to embrace us but He loved us. Let us learn from the unconditional love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Love has no limits. There is no destination in the journey of love. It is continuous.
Love can indeed conquer all. There is absolutely no limit to what love can conquer.