“What makes a man successful in life?” I asked an old man one day, and I was surprised by his answer.
“For me, success is all about managing my marriage vow,” he said, smiling. “I decided that no matter how difficult my relationship became, no matter how unfaithful, unyielding, or spiteful my chosen life-mate might be—my vow illuminated the moral pathway for my life. My marriage might become intolerable. It may even end in grief, but the way that I manage this promise to my wife determines my destiny.
“In the Bible, God uses marriage as imagery to illustrate his unchangeable, passionate love for believers, a metaphor easily understood in any culture throughout eons of time. When I made my marriage vow, I said to God: ‘Until I die, I will never forsake this woman, just as you will never forsake me. Until I die, I will love her, give without expecting anything in return, and encourage her to be the best that she is capable of being.’
“I dare not tamper with God’s paradigm. The vow that a man makes is heard by the God of the Universe and his angelic host. My vow is more than a promise to my wife—it is my promise to God.
“I tamper with this pledge at my own peril and the peril of precious children and grandchildren. How I view and preserve my vow decides my legacy.
“With passion and patience, I must defend my vow. With life-and-death urgency, I must nurture my wife, though I appear as a fool to the self-serving world around me. My vow may shatter to pieces someday, even as I struggle to hold it together—we make mistakes. But God knows that I have been its steward, guardian and defender, and my wife’s advocate to the end.”