If a wedding is not followed by a marriage, then it is no different than a broadway musical:  an extravagant performance of songs, dances, and really good acting in front of an audience of well-dressed people who put up a lot of money to get a seat.

It’s all too easy to make a condition-less promise of love to another person while wrapped up in a euphoria of emotions. When enraptured in feelings of love, it’s reasonable for anyone to make a solemn commitment of love to another person (while actually meaning it), but, then, once the feelings wear off, completely abandon his or her word.

So, a wedding may be the first time the promise to love is made, but a marriage is a collection of days when those promises that were made actually come true.

A marriage cannot happen at the altar. A marriage can only begin to prove itself to be a marriage in the minefields of life where each day is another opportunity to forget the promises made at the altar:

  • When the husband has neglected to do the dishes for the hundredth time
  • When the wife is going through chemotherapy…again.
  • When the two-year-old took the sharpie marker to all but one wall in the house while the dad was watching football.
  • When she just doesn’t take the time to listen.
  • When he becomes more and more insensitive.
  • When the bed is cold.
  • When the days are dark.

. . . those are exactly the kinds of reasons why the promises were made.

A promise is made to be kept, not broken; and the wild, unpredictable parts of life are the perfect proving ground for a man and a woman who have promised to love one another. Each day they are able to keep the promises they made to one another on the day of the wedding, the closer and closer they get to actually having a marriage.

So, if marriage is desired, then dating shouldn’t be an occasion for self-gratification or vain attempts at fabricating security. Instead, dating should be a process that allows someone to become the kind of a man or the kind of woman who is not only able to make a promise to love “until death do us part”, but who actually does.

[read on to chapter 4.7]