Burn the Boats

A recent analysis of modern day wedding vows reveal around a third of couples shunning the traditional commitment for life.

According to the results, 34% dumped the phrase ‘until death do us part’.  (Read Article: here) This really shouldn’t surprise us as the prevailing messages young couples hear is that divorce is not only commonplace, it’s also to be expected. Understandably, many couples simply do not have the confidence in marriage as a life-long proposition.

So when things start to get a bit tough in the marriage, they’re expecting it… and so is their community of supporters. The struggling couple will hear such sentiments as, “People live much longer today, it’s unreasonable to be with the one person for so long”, or, “It’s not the end of the world; lots of people have lived through a divorce”, or, “The kids will be fine as long as you’re happy”.

Not only are these sentiments misleading, they are also unhelpful to the couple wanting to keep their marriage intact. What they really need at this time is practical support and encouragement to get the help they need.

But the biggest issue is that if you don’t expect your marriage to endure, it reduces your will to make it work. Here’s a good analogy.

Burning the Boats on the Shore

In 1519, Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico on the shores of the Yucatan, with 600 men and prepared for battle with the formidable native population. Knowing the terror of his men, the captain ordered that the boats be burnt on the shore so that there was no retreat. He knew that while there was the option for escape, his men would only half-heartedly fight, expecting the call to withdraw to come at any moment. By burning the boats, he steadied the resolve of his men and commanded their full commitment to the battle. They went on to defeat their enemy and claim the substantial riches of the Aztecs.

A vow to love and honour for only as long as the marriage lasts, is like leaving your escape vehicle idling at the curb; as soon as it looks like it might get a bit rough, instead of thinking about how you can make it better, you’re thinking about when the right time will be to make the jump. You may even subconsciously seek to aggravate the situation so that your decision to leave seems more reasonable. This situation hollows out your commitment and weakens your resolve to fight for your marriage.

Marriage is a demanding commitment. Make no mistake: there will be both good times and bad. In order to have the grit to tough it out through those bad times, couples do well to take divorce off the table as an option and burn their boats on the shore.

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2015-01-15T15:05:10+00:00

About the Author:

Francine & Byron Pirola
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links.

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