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Why Stick to the Vow?

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Do you recall your wedding vows?

The pastor asked you, “Will you have this man to be your husband (this woman to be your wife), to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love, comfort, honor, and keep___ in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful as long as you both shall live?” You answered, “I will.”

You then turned toward each other and vowed, “In the Name of God, I __________ take you, __________ to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.”

Why did you make these vows? And, perhaps more importantly, why stick to these vows? Maggie Gallagher and Linda J. Waite, authors of The Case for Marriage, reviewed the scientific evidence on the effects of marriage, and found the evidence strongly supports sticking to these marriage vows (Maggie Gallagher "Why Marriage is Good for You." City Journal ((Autumn, 2000)).

In summary, this is what they found.

• Marriage lowers the risk of violence. Unmarried couples who live together engage in more domestic violence than the married.

• Married people live healthier and longer lives. Nine out of ten married men who are alive at 48 will make it to age 65, compared with just six in ten of single men.

• Children live healthier and longer lives. A parent's divorce can lessen by four years an adult child's life.

• The married earn more money. Married men make as much as 40 percent more money than unmarried men.

• The married manage money better and build more assets than those who cohabitate. Near retirement, the average married couple is worth about $410,000, compared with $154,000 for the divorced and $167,000 for the never-married.

• The married are more faithful to each other. “Cohabiting men are four times more likely to cheat than husbands, and cohabiting women are eight times more likely to cheat than wives.”

• Marriage is better for you mentally and emotionally. The married are less depressed, anxious, and psychologically stressed.

• The married are happier. “Overall, 40 percent of married people, compared with about a quarter of singles or cohabitors, say they are ‘very happy’ with life in general. We shouldn’t say, ‘divorce or be unhappy’ but ‘divorce and be unhappy.’”

• Children love their married parents more. “Adult children of divorce describe relationships with both their mother and their father less positively, on average, and they are about 40 percent less likely than adults from intact marriages to say they see either parent at least several times a week.”

• The married have better and more frequent sex. “Single men are 20 times more likely, and single women ten times more likely, not to have had sex even once in the past year than the married.”

Maggie asks, “How can a piece of paper work such miracles? For surprisingly, the piece of paper, and not just the personal relationship, matters a great deal…Something about marriage as a social institution—a shared aspiration and a public, legal vow—gives wedlock the power to change individuals' lives.”

Furthermore, she writes, “What proportion of unhappily married couples who stick it out stay miserable? The latest data show that within five years, just 12 percent of very unhappily married couples who stick it out are still unhappy; 70 percent of the unhappiest couples now describe their marriage as ‘very’ or ‘quite’ happy. Just as good marriages go bad, bad marriages go good. And they have a better chance of doing so in a society that recognizes the value of marriage than one that sings the statistically dubious joys of divorce.”

Deuteronomy 23:23 says, “Make sure you do what you said you would do in your vow” (GW). Now we understand why!

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider