Jennifer Wilbanks disappeared three days before her wedding. Police immediately suspected her fiance of foul play. Last night she was discovered, alive and physically well, in Albuquerque. story here She initially said she was kidnapped, then admitted she had cold feet. A real life runaway bride.
It's not readily apparent if she was intimidated by the pressure of the wedding or of the marriage. Jennifer and her fiance, John Mason, were living together, which statistically puts a marriage at risk from the get go. They had planned a celebrity style wedding extravaganza, with 600 guests and 28 in the wedding party. I don't know what their financial picture is, but I'm increasingly disturbed by the trend of ordinary, middle-income people feeling the need to coordinate a wedding worthy of the world's royalty, topped off by a honeymoon to the world's top destinations.
It's hard enough to start your family with the debt of student loans. Now it's not uncommon for couples to rack up $20,000-30,000 in wedding debt. For what? A nice memory? Some photos? And does anyone really think that the caliber of the wedding is in any way a predictor of the strength of the marriage?
Marriages in the United States are not healthy. I'm not talking about the oft-repeated but ridiculous statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce. truth here Most marriages do survive, but few thrive. As embarrassing and sad as the story of Jennifer and John is, even a three or four paragraph news article gives enough warning to let the casual observer know this marriage was in trouble before it began.
What's it take to make a marriage thrive? My list isn't complete, but I believe each partner should, at a minimum, bring these things to the relationship:
- A personal foundation of values and faith
- A self-esteem that's based on their worth in God's eyes, not based on appearances, acceptance or status.
- A willingness to delay gratification (examples--sexually before marriage, and financially after marriage)
- A goal of giving themselves to something much higher than themselves.
Though not comprehensive, just these characteristics could help a marriage have a good chance of becoming the most fulfilling human relationship they will ever know. How I wish that could be a possibility for more people.