to have and to hold from this day forward…

I heard something interesting on the radio today. Yesterday apparently is the day when more people find out about a coming divorce than any other day of the year.

The radio station had listeners call in and confirm what they thought… which was that couples wait to get through the holidays (for whatever that reason may be) and then lower the boom right as the new year begins.

One woman who called is a legal secretary at a one-attorney firm and she said yesterday they had 25 new divorce cases, which she said is very heavy volume for their small firm.

I thought it was quite sad.


UUs have been on the forefront of marriage news in the past few years… helping people get married… specifically gay couples.

But what I’d like to know is what do we do… and I guess I’m specifically asking our clergy… what do you do to help people stay married.

We have activists in our congregations, supporters of gay marriage, friends
and family who “stand on the side of love” but what does our faith teach, what do our congregations do to get any couple prepared for the long haul and what example do we, as members set to KEEP them married.

In the six years I’ve been a UU I cannot recall ever hearing a minister give advice on staying married, announce a sermon series on marriage or preparing for marriage or host workshops for staying/preparing for marriage. Whether in the pulpit of my congregation, at General Assembly, podcasts of dozens of UU ministers I plug into now and again,
blog posts, etc., I haven’t seen or heard any advice on getting through the tough times of marriage.

Seems to me we’re more concerned with supporting getting people to the alter than preparing them for life after the alter?


The radio jocks prodded one woman asking her a couple of times “you mean you’re really considering not getting a divorce even though he was unfaithful?” as if she were completely moronic to not get a divorce. She called to say she was consulting with a lawyer but hadn’t decided yet what she was going to do.

What would you do as a minister? What would you do as a fellow congregant?… a fellow human being? Would you advise staying in or getting out? Which is the easier consultation? Obviously every scenario has it’s nuances and details but where do you draw the line?… money issues, boredom, infidelity, physical abuse? Which I guess is where I started this? What does our faith as UUs tell us about keeping a marriage together?

“… for better or for worse.” What does that mean to any of us in this country?


7 responses to “to have and to hold from this day forward…

  1. Excellent questions, all. I think this is very important. For the last seven years I’ve attended a very large UU church (over 1000 members), and I am unaware of any sermons on staying married – or even staying together (married or not). I think there may have been a few classes in our adult religious education program that were specifically for couples, but I can’t be sure.

    At the same time, you don’t want to make single or unmarried people feel unwelcome, as Peacebang outlines here.

    Hmm. I also go to a church where neither of the two ministers are married. (One is long divorced; the other is gay). I don’t know if either of them is in a long term partnership. So maybe it’s just not on their radar?

    There seems to be a big focus on children’s RE (kids do bring their dues paying parents into church), but apart from a few potlucks, I just don’t hear anything about family events and whatnot.

    Hmm. These are really good questions. And how can you minister to couples and families AND ALSO minister to single people, divorced/widowed people, etc.?

  2. I do know that quite a few years back, UUs produced a couple enrichment manual for couple enrichment seminars. I thouhg the manual was fine (and got a copy back then), dunno how it worked out in practice though, or if the UUA has done anything denominationally since those long ago time .

  3. Hello Julian,

    I think that there may be a good reason why we don’t see much marriage talk in UU congregations. Part of me thinks that it could be because we don’t want to feel as if we are excluding divorced people from our number. Mostly, I think it may be a result of aversion to the rhetoric of our conservative-thinking brethren who dominate the conversation about marriage with antiquated concepts of what a relationship should be.


  4. Pingback: Supporting Gay Marriage

  5. Excellent questions, Tex. Support from the pulpit for marriage, other than for the political/civil right to gay marriage, doesn’t seem to be on the UU radar screen, does it?

    My guess? Divorce is so common among UUs, hell among all Americans for that matter, that ministers are afraid that by speaking for marriage, they’ll be seen as speaking against divorce. Can’t have that now, can you?

  6. p.s. congrats on the UU blog award nominations

  7. Will!!! Hey… you’re back. I just went to your CRAP blog (not that your blog is crap but you know… C.R.A.P. blog) a few days ago and saw that your back. 🙂

    good thing, too. I look forward to seeing what you have to say again.


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