Building blocks for a strong partnership

My first marriage took place in the United States. Then, after some years of widowhood, I married a second time in France. My first vows included the promise to have and to hold my husband, to love, honor, and cherish him, and to forsake all others. My second vows highlighted our civil duty to be mutually faithful and supportive, to live together, and to take full responsibility for the health, morality, and financial well-being of each other and of any children that might come from the marriage. The first vows were pretty romantic, and the second, fairly pragmatic; but I learned that both personal commitment and social responsibility are essential building blocks for a strong partnership. 

Experience shows that even when entered into with the best of intentions and the most solid and solemn of vows, many marriages still dissolve. The workshop for spiritual growth called marriage, while voluntary, isn’t always easy. Living in such close quarters, one is inevitably exposed to the progress as well as the unlearned lessons of his or her spouse. And as in all workshops, the observer is also being observed. Whether dealing with differing perspectives, family relations, personal habits, or changing attitudes, patience, forgiveness, and unflagging spiritual vision can serve as life rafts, saving a couple from shipwreck on the rocks and reefs of marital difficulties.

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