A number of years ago there was a suggestion from a politician that marriages should be reviewed after seven years and it evoked some interest in the media.
Marriage is the most fundamental building block of community providing, as it does, opportunity for service, loving care, nurture and a school for mutual service. Sadly, for many, this is not their experience.
Marriages do break down and within marriages loving service is reduced to servitude, love to lust and mutual support replaced by self interested selfishness in a variety of forms.
A voluntary commitment entered into by two adults is always going to be a challenge. The saying “love is blind but marriage is a great eye opener” is true. But what a wonderful opportunity marriage brings for mutual growth and long term happiness.
Marriage has traditionally been an exclusive commitment between one man and one woman for life, and so it has to be if it is going to work. Once a seven year review or renewal is introduced the life long “’til death do us part” commitment, so necessary for sustained growth through mutual consideration, commitment and service, is lost.
Given our inherent tendency to seek our own good and the temptations that abound to unfaithfulness (fuelled by our entertainment industry and some popular views on relationships) along with our selfish and childish tendency to look for instant gratification we do well to have the clear expectation of lifelong commitment.
The consequences of abandoned marriages are writ large into the fabric of society. Nobody ever wins. Neither the partners nor the children nor society comes away unscathed.
Marriage ought to be constantly reviewed in the sense of working at the issues behind disagreements and assessing weakness and disappointments, these can only be honestly approached when both partners have the expectation and commitment that this is a lifelong partnership. Such an attitude makes an ongoing healthy growth through honest reflection, amendment and a daily desire to serve more likely.
They say that compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. Just so as marriage progresses in time and intentional effort to keep on investing the dividends of past joys, along with lessons learnt from failures, a marriage can only abound. To opt out simply because it is difficult is to rob oneself and everyone else involved of the growth which comes through commitment.
Agatha Christie, who was married to an archaeologist, said that “an archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her!” And it works both ways. Seven years is not enough to capitalise on. A lifetime of mutual interest, forgiveness, service and shared memories is what God gave us marriage for.