Faith in marriage is so important! I was pleased to see that when Prince William wed Miss Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011, their faith was clearly evident for all to see. It was an unapologetic, Christian wedding in a day when church attendance in England is at an all time low, and in its own way, a powerful act of evangelism. From the prayer they wrote themselves, to the stirring and wise sermon given by the Bishop of London, it was apparent that the religious side of this wedding was not something just put on for the day, but rather something deep at the heart of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s relationship.
I live only six miles from where the Middleton family are based in Bucklebury, Berkshire, and the family are known to many in this area, although not to me personally. Few people will gossip about the Middletons, but I am told by a reliable source that one Sunday only a week or so before the wedding, the congregation of a church not far from here were delighted, yet completely unsurprised, to see them all, including Catherine, as well as her fiancé, HRH Prince William of Wales, walk into the church and take their seats. This is a family that worships together regularly, and most of the Royal Family are noted for their strong faith as well. The faith shared by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was utterly apparent during their wonderful marriage ceremony held in Westminster Abbey on Friday.
This faith will serve them well in the years to come. Their marriages is likely to face even more challenges than most. But every marriage faces its challenges.
When my husband and I married in 1991, our faith, like our marriage was in its infancy. Our individual faith was strong, but our shared faith was only beginning to grow.
Over the years, all our experiences, good and bad, have increased and sustained our faith. God has gently taught us that when we keep Him at the centre of our marriage everything sails along beautifully – and we know great joy. When we lose sight of Him, the opposite happens. Although it is not something we talk about a lot, our shared faith is at the centre of everything we do and everything we are.
My husband and I pray, together and separately, but our faith is a quiet thing. It’s not something we talk about a lot, but rather something we try to show by our actions.
Ten years after our wedding, in 2001, we renewed our vows in church. We did it for many reasons, but one of them was that we wanted to publicly stand before God, ten years in, with our shared faith stronger than it had ever been before, and re-commit ourselves both to our marriage and each other, and also to Him.
But our faith didn’t stop growing and evolving then, faith never does. There is much more to faith than just its strength – it has myriad dimensions, and if we let Him, God will help them to grow through joy.
I thought the shared prayer, written by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, was a very good idea. My husband and I wrote a prayer together for the service when we renewed our vows and read it aloud ourselves during the service. It’s a very emotional and powerful thing to do – or to ask someone to do for you – and I highly recommend it to anyone planning their marriage.
Now, ten years after the wonderful service where we renewed our vows, and nearly twenty-seven years married, the advice I would give to any couple getting married is this. Celebrate your faith, however small it might be, and trust God to help it grow as your marriage develops. Marriage, like faith, is a living, breathing thing, and it grows and changes over the years, just as we as individuals grow and change. If you keep God at the centre of your marriage, and allow your faith to grow even through the rocky times, you will come out the other side stronger and happier than you were before, both as individuals and as a couple. And that is definitely one of the key secrets to a happy and successful marriage.