Several of my Arab Muslim friends recently got married or will be getting married soon.

In Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Palestine, and Qatar.

In Christian weddings, the bride and groom stand before witnesses – often in a church – and make promises to each other. We call them “vows” but really, they are promises.

Here is an example of some wedding vows:

“I, __________, take you, ___________, to be my wife/husband. To have and to hold from this day forward. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health. To love and to cherish as long as we both shall live. Forsaking all others, I commit myself to you alone.”

My wife and I got married almost 36 years ago. I was 22 years old. I thought I knew a little about these vows – the promises – I was making. Now I realize. . .I didn’t have a clue! I knew so little about what I was saying. I had no idea what “for better, for worse” might mean – the kind of absolute, determined commitment we both would need to keep a marriage together. Together. . .for a lifetime.

Bottom line: I knew so very, very little about what real love is.

I knew about attraction. I knew how good I felt when I was with that special young lady. It was amazing! (My grandmother used to call it, “being in love with love.”)

But love for the other person. . .real love? The kind of love that puts the other person’s happiness before their own? The kind of love that is sacrificial, unselfish, dedicated, persevering?

For a whole lifetime?

No way.

There is a movie called “Runaway Bride.” It is a 1999 romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. While I cannot endorse the movie without reservation (because of some impure parts in the dialogue), I can endorse what the two main characters said to each other as they spoke of wedding vows – of wedding day promises:

I guarantee there’ll be tough times. I guarantee that at some point, one or both of us is going to want to get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life, because I know, in my heart, you’re the only one for me.”

A song from the movie has similiar content:

I promise you that love won’t be easy.
I promise you there’ll be times apart.
But I swear that it comes from my heart
When I promise you’re the only one for me.
Sometimes I know it’s hard for you
Wondering if we’ll make it through
But if you give me time
I’ll show you that you’re mine, I promise you. . .”

36 years later, my wife and I understand words like that.

If you aren’t married yet, think about those words.

If you are married, determine once again before God to live out your vows – the promises you made on your wedding day.