May 2, 2018

The Marriage Is the Thing You Want

A great deal of time and expense go into planning a wedding. But that’s just the beginning.

Wilona Karimabadi

Enjoying the revelry at a bridal shower not long ago, I found myself among a group of married women tasked with giving the bride sage marriage advice. For those of us who at that point had more than 10 years of marriage experience to draw from, it was a challenge to zero in on exactly what to tell this beautiful young woman on the verge of becoming a Mrs. I remember surprising myself at how I got a little teary recalling how the depth of love for my husband despite the natural ups and downs of so many years together, had really deepened beyond the intense feelings of our wedding day.

Many of the women shared similar sentiments. But one piece of “advice” given was rather sad: “I really don’t know what to tell you,” one showergoer said. “It really is all downhill from here.” Her words cut through the lighthearted atmosphere like a knife. It was not the most appropriate thing to say in the moment, but several of us who’d attended her very well-orchestrated wedding knew the remark was true to her situation, and sad. Very sad.

The Wedding Day Is a Day

Most of us gathered at this shower had been to one another’s weddings over the years. In my culture (East Indian) weddings are a big deal. South Asians are a partying people who celebrate life’s happy moments as if it’s our job. We love the festivities, the colors, the food, the people; and weddings are the grandest occasions of them all. Our “small” weddings involve about 200 people and for several of us at this particular shower, our ceremonies and receptions had been attended by anywhere from 500 to 1,000 guests. But grand weddings aren’t limited to South Asians alone.

In 2016 The Knot.com, one of the most well-utilized and popular wedding planning Web sites on the Internet, conducted a survey of nearly 13,000 brides and grooms across North America. According to the study, the national average of wedding expenditures (not including the honeymoon) was $35,329. Of course, that figure varies widely depending on the size and location of the wedding. For example, on average, weddings in New York City will be far more expensive than similar events in Utah.

For this most special of days, brides and grooms spend money on the venue, photographers, event planners, music, flowers, videographers, wedding attire (including that all-important dress), cake, invitations, favors, transportation, catering, wedding day hair and makeup, etc. The cost of all these things can vary and be economized of course. But for many couples, planning and executing a dream wedding can become an all-consuming passion that, I’m here to tell you, ends up being nothing more than a blur of a day that will not carry you through the rest of your life.

Marriage Versus Wedding

I’m not anti “fantastic wedding extravaganza” at all. I’m a South Asian woman who had a 500-person wedding and two receptions in two different states. Celebrating your wedding day in the most memorable way you can isn’t an outlandish idea, because it's understood that cultural and social considerations, along with many other factors, can often drive the flavor of the event. So provided you can create a wedding experience you love within your means, it really should be an incredible day. It is, after all, the joining of two lives brought together by God into a sacred union that is meant to bless the lives of those in it and around it. It is one of the Lord’s great gifts to His children, “heaven below,”1 and a profound example of His deep love for us.

But after the blur of this amazing day passes, and all you’re left with are memories, pictures, and video, and a lovely array of gifts, will your wedding day make or break your marriage?

Marriage Isn’t the End of Your Love Story

Clearly, starting your marriage with a public and sacred commitment to each other blessed by God, is starting it on the right foot. But right on the heels of that comes life. And married life can be really challenging. You’ve heard the saying, “Marriage is work.” But it’s a work that, partnered with God’s help, yields beautiful blessings.

Ellen White wrote about marriage: “Though difficulties, perplexities, and discouragements may arise, let neither husband nor wife harbor the thought that their union is a mistake or a disappointment. Determine to be all that it is possible to be to each other. Continue the early attentions. In every way encourage each other in fighting the battles of life. Study to advance the happiness of each other. Let there be mutual love, mutual forbearance. Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true friendship, the love that binds heart to heart, is a foretaste of the joys of heaven.”2

Once you return from the honeymoon and make it past the period of newlywed bliss, which may not exist for some couples (and that’s OK), you settle in to real life as a new family unit. Work, advanced studies, bills, buying first homes, having or not having children—all of these things contribute to the stresses of adjusting to living with another person who now shares your bed and bathroom space.

Then routines settle in and before you know it, years have passed. Struggles will come. Some will be minor; some will be life-changing. Will the rosy memories of your wedding day be the glue that holds you together then?

What Should Really Matter to a Mr. and Mrs.

Happy recollections can help, but you’re going to need a bit more substance to hold on to than that. Ellen White addressed the notion that marriage is a lottery: it is not.3 Many couples may honestly look at it that way. But an institution created in the Garden of Eden by God Himselfis clearly not frivolous. Furthermore, while the struggle is real, the grace of God is stronger.

“Time strips marriage of the romance with which imagination had clothed it, and then the thought finds entrance into the mind through Satan’s suggestions, ‘We do not love each other as we supposed.’ Expel it from the mind. Do not linger over it. Let each, forgetful of self, refuse to entertain the ideas that Satan would be glad to have you cherish. He will work to make you suspicious, jealous of every little thing that shall furnish the least occasion, in order to alienate your affections from each other. Life is a real matter, and it can be made unbearable by the husband and wife. When the romance is gone, let each think, not after a sentimental order, [but] how can they make the married life what God would be pleased to have it.”4

By all means, have a beautiful and memorable wedding day that works for you and your families, for it is absolutely a day to be remembered! But if you are placing too much emphasis on executing the perfect fantasy production and giving little thought to the real business of being married, take a step back and order your priorities. Your wedding day will be an unforgettable day, but your marriage is where the magic—for years and years to come—really happens.


  1. Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home (Nashville: Southern Pub. Assn.,, 1952), p. 112.
  2. Ibid., p. 106.
  3. Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases (Silver Spring, Md.: Ellen G. White Esates, 1990), vol. 10, p. 184.
  4. Ibid.

Wilona Karimabadi is an assistant editor of Adventist Review.

Wilona Karimabadi
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