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From the Bench: do you take this woman?


When marriage is right, it it wonderful—


From the Bench

We should never enter into a marriage contract without a great deal of thought,
but you can never be for sure.

A BOUT TEN YEARS AGO, I was asked to officiate at a wedding. The bride wore a long white dress, the groom had a full dress military uniform, and there were about 30 friends and family members watching.

I started with several paragraphs explaining what marriage was, the responsibilities and the joys of marriage. I reached the point where I asked, “Do you take this woman, to be your true and lawful wedded wife?”

The expected answer was yes, but he said, “No.”

I stopped and caught my breath and very softly said, “Did you say no?”

He said, “Yes, I said no.”

I said, “Do you mean you do not want to go ahead with the wedding?”

He said, “I do not want to go ahead.”

I was stunned; I am not often at a loss for words, but this was a surprise.

I said, “Would you and the bride like to step to one side and discuss this?”

He said, “No, I do not want to talk about it.”

I was speechless. The bride was crying. The bride’s mother was crying, the father of the bride was swearing, and I stood there not knowing what to say. It was embarrassing to everyone.

Finally, I handed the unsigned marriage license to him and said, “If you change your mind, let me know,” and I went out to my truck. I watched them drive away in separate cars.

Reflecting back, I had mixed emotions. Marriage should be a permanent relationship. If you are not ready do not proceed. But then, why he did not bring this to a halt the day before?

We should not enter into a marriage con­tract without a great deal of thought, but you can never be for sure. If you wait to be absolutely sure, you might miss a great op­portunity. In one of my wedding ceremonies, I say marriage has a greater possibility of success and failure, as well as joy and pain; the possibility of sor­row and happiness is greater in married life than in single life. The person who has not made the wager of faith and devotion can­not be as easily hurt. The person who puts their faith in another, exposes themselves to the possibility of greater pain, but they can never experience the greater joy that comes when you share all with a trusted, loving companion.

Lesson: Mar­riage is a gamble, but when it is right, it is wonderful. My lovely wife, Shirley, and I have been married 58 wonderful years.

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