Rethinking “‘Til Death Do Us Part”

For the most part, people don’t get married with the intention of getting divorced.  Everyone knows the odds intends to beat them.  Every couple thinks their union is strong enough to last “’til death do us part.”  What if I told you that everyone is right?  Everyone succeeds.

A few weeks ago, I met a young man on a mountain top.  As we chatted, he told me a little about his spiritual journey. He was an atheist until the day he sensed the presence of God while observing animals at play.  From that point on, things changed for him, and now he’s a Christian with a new outlook on life and a new career which he finds fulfilling.

As our conversation progressed, we talked about my work, and I explained my passion for helping people break up.  He’d never heard anyone say the things I said (I hear that a lot). Although he agreed that my approach and philosophies were more productive than traditional divorce proceedings, he couldn’t quite concede that divorce could be a good thing.  He referenced God’s continued commitment to the church.  He said if he were married and facing difficulties, he hoped he’d have the same patience and presence that God exhibits.  Because, after all, when people get married, they promise to be together “’til death do us part.”

“Yes, but people change,” I told him.  “Are you the same person you were when you were an atheist?”

He emphatically stated that he was not.

“That atheist is gone, right?  You might even say he’s dead.”

There was a questioning, cautious nod.

“So, what if you’d gotten married years ago?  That man your hypothetical wife married is dead now.”

As the moments go by, people change.

I referenced this in my previous post:  we learn new things.  Our hairstyles change.  We change our jobs.  We change our minds.  I’m not the child I was 30 years ago.  Nor am I the naive 20-something I was on my wedding day.  I’m also not the freshly-showered, smartly-dressed professional who rushed out my front door this morning (truth be told:  clay is cracking on my face as I type this).

If we can accept the fact that we change, why not embrace the idea that older versions of ourselves no longer exist?  It’s actually quite freeing, isn’t it?  This philosophy means we’re no longer prisoners of our past.  After all… that toddler who wet the bed wasn’t You.  The child with the goofy glasses and skinned knees wasn’t You.  That adolescent who missed the kiss wasn’t You.

The woman who married my now-ex-husband wasn’t Me.  And the man she married wasn’t the man who is now my ex-husband.

“Till death do us part” wasn’t one of my wedding vows, but I still think we accomplished that feat (and then some).  And so did everyone else who’s ever gotten married.  Regardless of how long the union lasted.


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