If you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy a happily-ever-after story when two people, desperately in love, decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together and get married. However, we know the reality of everyday life isn’t like Hollywood, and the fictional fairy stories could never depict the journey of being married for ten, twenty, thirty years or more. Yet the wedding day is just the beginning of the adventure of the rest of their lives together.
Like all adventures, marriage has its inevitable ups and downs. Being prepared is important and in many churches, couples attend marriage preparation sessions to help them to navigate the ‘ever-after’ and learn how to adapt to being a family unit.
I myself attended marriage preparation sessions with my husband and would recommend this to everyone. Whilst this is a great start for couples, the investment into marriage shouldn’t stop at the preparation stage, yet, as time goes by, couples can begin to neglect their marriage, or take it for granted. Sometimes, it sadly becomes a mediocre relationship.
It may surprise you to know that a far more common cause for divorce is couples drifting apart rather than the big arguments that are misleadingly portrayed in TV dramas and films as the main reason for a marriage to end. Regularly investing into a marriage is crucial for its ‘ever-after’ success.
The UK National Marriage Week is an annual awareness campaign for couples to join in with and this year it’s taking place from the 13th – 19th May. It’s a signpost to remind us of the importance of looking after our marriages and to encourage the couples within our churches to do the same. Our theme for 2019 is ‘Recipe for a Healthy Marriage’. Every good recipe works because it has the right ingredients and it’s the same with marriage. The marriage ingredients we have chosen to focus on are commitment, kindness, communication, intimacy, friendship and forgiveness.
There are lots of fun ways that couples can get involved during Marriage Week, such as creating one of our delicious recipes found on our website, www.marriage-week.org.uk. There are also easy to follow resources for churches to use to celebrate marriage within their communities.
Being aware that the subject of marriage can feel exclusive, we’ve produced a range of resources including a community ‘Wedding Feast’ in which all can be invited to celebrate that marriage is good for couples, children and society and a symbol of the church as the bride of Christ.
Setting up the Marriage Week prayer room is a wonderful way for people of all ages and situations to be part of the week. The Couples Evening provides a great way of connecting with and blessing the couples that you’re in contact with through community groups such as toddler groups, homework clubs, CAP courses and other activities that you may already run on a regular basis within your church community.
Take a look at the website for more ideas, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and share your Marriage Week stories using the hashtag #marriageweek. Follow this link to see the flyer too: Church Flyer
Marriage Week has all the right ingredients for the real and lasting ‘ever-after’ that takes us beyond the fanciful fairy tales and into the adventure and richness of healthy relationships. We hope that you’ll join in the celebration!