Everyone wants a marriage to last "until death do us part"—here's how to make that happen
Maybe you’re hoping to strengthen your marriage; maybe you’ve been married for decades and feel secure; or maybe you are just starting out. Spouses’ feelings toward their marriage run the gamut and often see high and lows, but almost all couples can agree: they want a marriage that lasts “until death do us part,” where they grow in love for one another with each passing year.
But is that really possible anymore? Divorce rates continue to soar, and many of us have witnessed relationships we thought would last forever fall apart.
Steve Bollman, founder of Paradisus Dei, believes so strongly that it is possible to prevent divorce (and have an incredible marriage) that he has started The Choice Wine: 7 Steps to a Superabundant Marriage, a nine-session marriage program that is available for free to parishes nationwide.
Bollman insists that it isn’t just the Church who emphasizes the permanence of marriage. Science and proven studies demonstrate that marriage—on the whole—makes people happier, healthier and wealthier and that it has positive effects on the chemistry of your brain.
The Choice Wine proposes 7 steps for couples to experience a superabundant marriage and yes, even a foretaste of heaven on earth. For those interested in pursuing the path to divorce-proofing their marriage, it’s the first three steps you’ll want to concentrate on first:
- Honor Your Wedding Vows—Certainly this means being physically faithful to your spouse. And, we’re not just talking about infidelity (which increases your probability of divorce by 300 percent). Being unfaithful physically also includes pornography use, which neurological studies indicate is processed by the brain as a real sexual encounter. But fidelity also includes a willingness to give your life for your spouse. That sort of vow is something we have to commit to every day in order to do it justice.
- Use Money for Others—Studies tell us that financial stress is experienced by one-fourth of married couples every year and that disputes over money is one of the most common kind of arguments between couples. If we start seeing money as a tool entrusted to us for the good of others, however, it can be a source of happiness, not of tension. The brain experiences happiness each time we give to others, yet do we consistently choose to use money in this way?
- Give God Some of Your Time—A number of studies show that attending a church weekly reduces the chance of divorce. In fact, people who never attend church are 2.5 times more likely to divorce than weekly church attendees. Church changes people’s behavior and their hearts. If you don’t attend Mass regularly, have you asked yourself why not? If you do attend, are you open to receiving wisdom and grace each time you participate?
Of course we want more (and one would assume God wants more) out of our marriage than simply hoping it doesn’t fall apart. Those who seek to follow these steps, or who attend The Choice Wine, are choosing to treasure a vocation—a calling to live life fully with another person. The next four steps, therefore, help couples to understand the beauty of what marriage is actually intended to be.
But do these steps really work? Paradisus Dei reports that out of the participants surveyed “four out of 5 couples following the 7 Steps describe themselves as Very Happily Married, 1 out of 5 as Happily Married and none reported being unhappily married.” Compared to the divorce rate in our country, those are pretty incredible statistics.
Don’t let one portion of our society convince you otherwise; marriage is more than a beautiful ceremony or a slow decline into discontent—for many, it’s the path to long-lasting joy and, ultimately, to heaven.
For more about the 7 Steps and The Choice wine, visit www.thechoicewine.org.
Caitlin Bootsma is the editor of Human Life International’s Truth and Charity Forum, as well as the Communications Director for Fuzati, Inc., a Catholic marketing company.