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The Meaning of Your Marriage Vows: “As Long As We Both Shall Live”

“As long as we both shall live….”

After returning from a hard workout one evening, I came home to a wonderful meal prepared by my wife. It was a little late for dinner, about 8:15, and the challenging workout had only increased my hunger.

The meal was wonderful, just what I needed.

I woke up the next morning and after working for a while, wanted to go for another run. It was a bit frustrating, though, as I was…hungry.


I had a perfectly decent meal last night. Why should I be hungry again?

Could it be that though I had a good meal eleven hours ago, that doesn’t mean I’ll never be hungry again?

You’ve gone through a devotional to spiritually prepare yourself for marriage. Some of you are also taking the wise step of going through pre-marital counseling, where you’re talking about major issues in your relationship. It should be no surprise that this is making you both feel a little closer to each other. You’re “feeding” the relationship, so it’s growing.

But the relationship will never reach a point where it doesn’t need to be fed, any more than you could enjoy a $200 dinner and be satisfied for a full week. If you stop feeding your marriage, one or both of you will become hungry again.

The Bible stresses the need to persevere in doing the right thing: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

The “harvest” results from continuing to do the right thing, working until the very end. You’re not just choosing to get married; you’re choosing to be married. That means feeding your marriage every day, “so long as you both shall live.” You’re promising not just to live together, but to grow toward each other. Your spouse will have a legitimate expectation that, after the ceremony, you will make your relationship a top priority in your life. On your wedding day, you’re not just saying “I do.” You’re committing to, “I will. For the rest of my life.”

I don’t want this to sound like an obligation, but rather an invitation. It’s not always “comfortable” to choose to work out, but the reason I do work out is because I feel better the other 23 hours of the day. I have more energy, less stress, more joy.

In the same way, when you feed your marriage it’s like pouring a river of contentment through your soul. Frustrations at work won’t matter as much; agitations in other relationships won’t sting so sharply; physical ills will be easier to endure. A happy, well-connected marriage makes all of life more pleasant. The highs become more fun, and the lows feel less suffocating.

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You won’t always feel like living out your marriage vows but it will always pay off (eventually) when you do. Investing in your marriage, in your intimacy, in your connectedness, will give you far more than it will cost you. Think of it this way: you’re committing to have a lifetime of laughter! Passionate lovemaking! Soulful discussions! Too many meals together to count! Listening to each other’s dreams! Perhaps raising children together!

You no longer have to wonder “Will I find someone to love me?” or “What would it be like to be married to that person?” You get to live in reality. You get to take all the energy you spent wondering “what if?” and now spend it living “what is.” For the rest of your life, your priorities become much simpler: God first. Your spouse second. Everything else fights for number three.

The search is over. A new life—a life of intimacy, joy, challenge, and purpose—begins. 

Some of the most powerful, life-giving, exciting words you will ever agree to are said during your marriage vows: “so long as you both shall live.”

Heavenly Father, there are so many good things to pursue in this wonderful world You have made, but guard my heart so that I don’t put anything ahead of my relationship with You and then my relationship with my future spouse. Give me the commitment to feed my marriage on a daily basis. Don’t let me become weary; don’t let me become apathetic. I realize I am entering a relationship that will need to be nurtured for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

This is the third in a series of posts excerpted from my new book, Preparing Your Heart for Marriage, a devotional for engaged couples. The second half of the book goes through every phrase of the traditional marriage vows so that when couples exchange their vows on their wedding day, they’ll have thought through, prayed through, and talked through all that they are saying. This week’s post is based on the promise to be true to our marriage vows “so long as you both shall live…”