Wedding Ministry by Design

Foundations for Marriage

Forsaking All Others

Traditional wedding vows contain the phrase, forsaking all others.  The phrase may be omitted from more contemporary vows, but that does not give us a free pass from adhering to Gods design for marriage. Failure to forsake all others has destroyed untold marriages and has crippled countless others.

So what does it mean to forsake all others? The obvious answer revolves around adultery, but it goes far beyond that. Forsaking all others includes leaving your parents (Gen. 2:24), as well as anyone else who might possibly come between you and your spouse.

So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate. (Matt. 19:6 NIV)  No one is intended to ever come between a husband and wife. The failure to shift your loyalty from your parents, friends, etc, to your spouse is a central issue in almost all marital conflict.

Picture this scenario. You are a few years into your marriage. Things have gone fairly well and for all intents and purposes, your marriage is strong. Each year, it seems your debt has increased. Its not overwhelming, but youre certainly not where you would like to be financially. Your spouse calls to tell you they just found that they might be considered for a huge promotion with three or four times their current income, but it would require moving to Florida.

Before they can continue, you respond with something like, Were sure going to miss you around here, making it crystal clear to your spouse that you choose your (parents, friends, job, church, children by a previous marriage, etc.) over them. You have just forsaken your spouse instead of forsaking all others.

You just told your spouse that they are not, nor have they ever been, nor will they ever be the most important person in your life. Can you imagine the devastation you have just laid on their heart? When you boil it all down, marriage means you and your spouse are the most important people in each others lives.

Unlike some marital problems, the failure to forsake all others is not gender specific. Husbands are often unable to separate the apron strings from their mothers. They tend to put too much importance on spending time with their buddies. They might even fail to forsake inanimate objects, i.e. preferring spending time working on their automobile rather than with their wife. Wives often fall under similar situations with their families and friends.

A sad fact, but one we must acknowledge, is today over 40% of all marriages are remarriages for at least one spouse. This brings new complexities to forsaking all others as over 65% of these remarriages involve children. The thing to remember here that is very difficult for parents is this; God created marriage as the bond of all human relationships. The most permanent relationship in all of society is not between parent and child, but between husband and wife. 

In all marriages, and even more so in blended marriages, children can and often do become masters at driving wedges between a husband and wife. They become expert at playing one against the other. Without the husband and wife working together to provide a united front, children often become rulers of the household. Of those remarriages I mentioned above with children, over 70% of those end in divorce. That is staggering when you think about it and an indication that couples fail to grasp forsaking all others, even when it involves children.

Of course Im not advocating neglect or abuse. I am advocating marriage as God intended. I am advocating marriage where each spouse puts the other spouse first above all else. I think Dr. Laura Schlessinger summed it up well in her book, 10 Stupid Things Couples Do To Mess Up Their Relationships, when she said, If your actions hurt your spouse, they are the wrong actions. Period.

The selfishness of our society tells us we somehow have a right to play. Its somehow okay to go out drinking and dancing with your girlfriends, or its somehow okay for a husband to stand by and allow his mother to berate his wife, or its somehow okay to side with your children over your spouse (bear in mind, Im not talking about situations of abuse here). None of these things are acceptable in marriage. Your spouse must come first, always!

Your marriage mantra should be, No relationship on earth, other than my relationship with Jesus Christ and God, is more important than my relationship with my spouse. Make it so and you will have no problem forsaking all others.

Pastor Monty Rainey
















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