by Aaron Tiger
“For better, for worse.” You probably said this at your wedding. You remember that day don’t you? It was a day that was packed full of activities from getting your hair done in the morning to riding off to your honeymoon. At some point during the midst of that day, you stood facing your spouse and you said this, “for better, for worse.”
You had no idea what you were getting into. Most of us go into our wedding days believing that the “for better” will happen more often than the “for worse.” We imagine growing old with someone, living our dream, and retiring happily ever after. We imagine family dinners that are non-stop laughter. We hope for vacations that go smoothly, and we dream of a romance that always burns.
We may like “for better,” but I am pretty confident that it is the “for worse” that impacts us even more. Because when you get married, you do not know what “for worse” will mean in your marriage. “For worse” might mean cancer, and your spouse who on that wedding day was the picture of health, now 5, 20, 40 years later that picture has drastically changed. “For worse” might mean the death of a child, and now you have to learn how to hold someone when you cannot stand, and you have to realize that how they grieve is not how you grieve, but you still have to do it together. “For worse” might be your own selfishness. Marriage sounded great at the beginning, but as the years went on you started to wish that your marriage was more like Burger King, so you could have it your way. You have made decisions that have put a gulf between you and your spouse.
As a Pastor I get to sit down with engaged couples and talk to them about their hopes for their marriage to come. They are naively hopeful, and I mean that in the most beautiful of ways. I do not want to crush their picture of beauty and hope, but there response to my next question is always fascinating. I ask them, “whose marriage they admire and why?” They think and then they most often respond with something like this, “my parents (or grand-parents) because they have gone through some tough times and some awful things, and they still love each other and are always there for one another.” They recognize that marriage is better when you have gone through “for worse” with each other.
In the New Testament there is this moderately ridiculous passage that says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) That sounds like “for worse” to me. I don’t wish hardships and “for worse” on any marriage, but I believe what those engaged couples observe is true. How you journey through “for better” won’t define your marriage, but your journey through “for worse” will. Because one day I hope someone asks your kids and grandkids whose marriage they admire, and they say, “my parents (or grand-parents) because they have gone through some tough time and some awful things, and they still love each other and are always there for one another.”
Aaron Tiger is a minister at FUMC-Tulsa, a dad, a husband, and a child of God. He is the lead contributor for the918.org.