5 Words That Could Mean Life or Death To Your Marriage

A few weeks ago, my friend Charity wrote on Facebook that a photo of her friend’s grandparents had made The Huffington Post. I clicked on the link and saw the breathtaking image of this husband and wife. I was instantly caught up in the beauty and tragedy of it.

I imagined what was going through the wife’s mind as she held the fragile hand of her dying husband. I imagined the memories they shared together—the joys and challenges. I imagined the birth of their first child and raising a family in their home. I pictured his strength and her beauty at a young age.

From the expression on her face, I saw a woman who deeply loved her man. A woman who fulfilled her commitment and stood on her word to love him “Until death do us part.” I saw the ache in her soul that he was breathing his last breaths and soon, he would no longer be by her side as her protector, provider, soul-mate, comforter, delight, lover and friend.

And my soul began to ache as I thought about my husband and the deep love we share for one another. It made me think of the vows I promised him on a wintry December day in Virginia amongst all our family and friends eight years ago:

I, Samantha, take you, Jeremiah, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

I also thought about the ways I’d failed my husband over the years and how I still have many areas of growth in loving him the way God intends.

Begin with the End in Mind

The five words “Until death do us part” are spoken of at the wedding altar in regards to lasting commitment but the reality of death being the actual end of the marriage is rarely expounded on. After all, the wedding ceremony shouldn’t be depressing right?

But the truth is that in order for our marriages to have the life they need to survive the long haul, we have to begin with the end in mind. Death—no matter how much we try to escape it—is the end and we have made a promise to God, our spouse, and other witnesses to love our spouse until then.

It sounds so easy and simple, but to actually live that out is another story. That’s why so many marriages end in divorce. Contrary to popular ideals, marriage is not a bed of roses, but is a battlefield that demands a daily dying to self.

Because of our sinful, stubborn, selfish natures we inherited in the garden, we continue to bring that nasty nature into our marriages—into all our relationships in fact. The manner in which we relate to our spouses and handle conflict is often broken. Ask anyone who’s been married for a little while and they’ll tell you just how much the molehills become mountains. Often they come out of nowhere and seem impossible to climb.

When we don’t get our way, conflict arises. When our spouse forgets his wallet or keys and makes us late to an important event, we grow angry. When he isn’t fulfilling our needs and desires the way we’d like, we have a pity party. When he doesn’t help out around the house enough, we grow bitter and nag.

When our spouse is short with us or raises his voice, we go on the defense and lash back. When he watches too much football, we tell him to get off the couch and get to work. And the list goes on. Conflict is a natural part of the marriage relationship and if it’s not happening internally at the moment, it’s guaranteed to hit you from the outside in just a matter of time.

Choose Humility & Forgiveness

The hope is that we can still have conflict in the midst of a healthy marriage defined by love. Through confessing our sins, repenting, and seeking forgiveness habitually, God refines those areas where we’re weak. Like iron sharpening iron, God uses our spouse to help change us. We put our hope and trust in God for help and guidance.

It’s having that humility before our spouse to say, “I know I’ve screwed up. But I love you and I’m committed to you every day of my life to make our marriage thrive.”

It’s realizing that, “Will you forgive me?” may just have to become a part of your daily vocabulary.

It’s choosing not to be isolated and asking trusted friends or family to encourage and help you get back on the road to loving and serving one another again.

It’s understanding that even if your spouse is driving you crazy and you want so badly for him to change that you may have to look in the mirror first to see where you need changing. Then you can dig your knees into the ground and pray for him.

It’s remembering that the very act of touching your husband’s hands, sexual intimacy, bearing children, laughing, working, playing, and eating meals together is all an act of grace that should instill gratitude in your heart. All of those life-giving moments are gifts that are not guaranteed or promised forever.

Being able to call him husband is a gift in and of itself.

Fight the Battle Against Sin

Above that beautiful image of the elderly couple, I read that the grandson wrote that they’d been together for 68 years and still kissed 15 times before bed every night.

As the wife sat next to her husband’s death bed, I’m guessing she wasn’t thinking about the times they fought or let each other down, but only the good, sweet, joyful, holy, precious, sacred times God had given them as husband and wife on this earth. There’s no doubt there was gratefulness and a deep sadness in her heart that it was ending.

Life is a vapor, as we know from Solomon in Ecclesiastes, and no matter how much we try to deny it, death is waiting for us and our spouse in the end. So the fight against sin in our marriage is worth it because one day, if we know and belong to Christ, He is going to make all our brokenness whole again and we will be made perfect as He is.

And the words “Until death do us part” don’t have to be brushed over, denied, or forgotten, but can inspire us toward a greater, selfless love for our spouse and ultimately for God.


Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mom, writer and editor in rural Colorado. Through story, personal experience, and biblical insight she is passionate about helping others live out their faith in everyday life and relationships. She has been writing for leading Christian books and magazines for over 12 years and holds a BA in English and Master’s in Religion. Samantha and her husband, Jeremiah, have been married for a decade and have four young children. Samantha writes candidly about marriage, motherhood, and faith at samanthakrieger.com

  • Beautiful!

  • Toyin Esan

    What a beautiful and helpful write up, God bless you, keep your family together and increase you on all sides. Thank you, i was really blessed.

  • Brenda Yzaguirre

    great article !

  • Julia Wells

    Great encouragement! Thank you Samantha 🙂

  • Frances Ruocco

    Great article. Just wanted to add that I am sure his passing is not the death of their marriage especially if they believe in eternal life. Their celebrating 68 years together would prove to me that they are striving for being together in the next world. As a Catholic/Christian who believes that Jesus conquered death I know that even though my husband has been in the next world for 31 years, I still consider myself married to him and live for the day when we will be reunited again. People who experience that true love know that “True love will never die… even if there is a separation from this world to the next…” which is a poem that I have written believing every word of it.

    • Stephen Zumbo


      Respectfully, I have to differ. Jesus told the Sadducees who tried to trick Him by asking whose wife a woman would be in heaven who had died after marrying and being widowed multiple times, that they didn’t understand the Scriptures, that “there will be no marriage or giving in marriage in Heaven….” Paul asserts in 1 Corinthians chapter seven that a woman is bound to her husband until he dies (and husband to wife is implied); after the death of the spouse, the marriage is ended and the wife is free to remarry without sinning. I pray that you and your late husband will meet each other in heaven and share it’s joys, but continuing marriage will not be one of them.

  • Anna clayton

    Thank you for giving me the inspiration to see the whole picture. We forget about the death part.

  • Rebekah

    This really is beautiful!

  • Cindy Dalton

    Excellent article and wonderful advice! My husband and I are quickly approaching our 42nd anniversary. Through the years we’ve found that forgiveness and understanding are two of the most important things we must do for each other. It’s easy to say “I love you”, but practicing to love as Christ does requires the commitment and perseverance you so wisely spoke of. Thank you so much.

  • Mary Motchian

    I really needed to here this right now!!! It’s our 21st Anniversary and my husband just wants to sleep which kind of hurts. I know like you said there are ups and down and it’s not that serious if I was about to lose him at this moment!!! I have to honor his wishes and in that I’m honoring God!!! Again thank you for this post!!!

  • Wonderful and beautiful article! Thank you so much!

  • travis bishop

    thanks samantha what a great reminder…

  • Sarah

    Thank you for this article. God has shown me this at exactly the time I need it in my life. Gpd bless you xx

  • Shelly Doyle

    This is very inspiring, I think everyone who is in love should read this! Too many people get married without even thinking what marriage is all about, then when things go wrong they just throw it all away and get divorced.


    Wow…………. Very MOVING & thought provoking……….THANK YOU Kirk for sharing it 🙂

  • Mary

    this is a beautiful story indeed … of two people who are devoted to LOVE one another….

    for those who are living with an abusive husband, these are words than can heap condemnation, especially in the “church” forgetting that you canNOT make someone love you — while it takes two people to be married, it only takes one to break the covenant and kill the marriage // if the husbands would AGAPE love their wives, cherish and honor her, nurture her and live with understanding of her as they lay down their life for her, (all of this FROM the Lord), then we would see such beautiful responsive (philandros) love from their wives… a beautiful picture of Christ and His bride

    • Emily

      I got married almost 3 years ago to my husband, I truely loves him with all my heart and soul. After 6 months of us being married he leaves me for 3 wks. He cheated on me while he was gone, his excuse was that “we were seperated” I told him that didn’t matter because we were still married… I had trust issues for a while. Once i thought i could trust him again , i found out that he was talking to other girls and they said that he didn’t tell them that he was married… His excuse then was “I wasn’t talking to him”… Once again i got to where i thought i could trust him again just to find out that he talked to another girl… His excuse then was i didn’t fallow him like God says too…. I just recently found out that he did drugs (over a year ago) while we were together at his friends House… I don’t know what to do, I do love him but will God look down on me for ending my marriage because i don’t know If i could ever be able to trust him again….please help me

      • Smith

        Emily, My heart broke when I read what you wrote. having gone through something similar in my own marriage. I believe it is very important for you to seek a Christian Counselor. And surround yourself with Friends who want to fight for your marriage. You cannot fight this on your own. This is not healthy for you to live this way. I believe God does give us a way out when the husband has no desire to turn from his wicked ways. And continues to beat you down. I will be praying for you!

    • good words, Mary. Thank you.

  • patricia

    Wow very beautiful and i know first hand marriage isn’t easy

  • Jennifer Cox

    As young as we were when we got married, I wasn’t sure how well we were going to make it. But then we had a beautiful little girl and marriage just kept getting better and better. With the help of God there was hope and love I’ve never seen before. I now can say until death do us part and fully understand the importance. Thank you for writing this. It truly touched my heart.

  • Stephen Venn

    Am blessed too….thank you!!

  • Anna Shepherd

    I can identify in all aspects of this article. My husband, Dale, of 53 years just passed on to Heaven Oct. 10th of this year. He was 72. There are a myriad of life’s happenings that pass through the mind and unbelief that 53 years could be so fast to pass by. In difficult, trying times one week seemed like an eternity, now all those years seem as a vapor. My husband and I counseled married couples through our Church for some years. I’ve often wondered what has happened to them. It was hard work, prayerfully and I’ve second guessed my statements at times, but never God’s Word. I’ve done that in my own marriage. Stepped out of the “woman of God” and became the “witch of the north”. I made that choice. Every man, and woman makes the choice and we bring hurt into our lives. Focus on why God put us together…”training in righteousness”, die to self daily, the daily prayer life and Bible reading time, all help us, but we need to keep our relationship with Jesus open, just like with our spouse, an open relationship of love and trust, whether we feel it at the moment or not. I’m so glad that, as I go through this time of grieving, I allowed God to build me into His woman for my sweet, selfless Dale. (also, have dates together, you are worth it!)

  • Dillon

    Except one doesn’t need to be Christian to have a happy marriage. My wife and I don’t believe in these old superstitions but have a wonderful loving marriage.

  • Cherie Evors

    Thank you for this. It could not have came at a better time!

  • Stephen Zumbo


    I believe you have been blessed with a happy marriage because you have been living out the principles God laid down in those “old superstitions” without realizing it. God honors those who obey Him. But he is not mocked. Take a careful look at the Bible and see what happens when people mock God or His principles: Israel was punished by God over and over for unbelief including failure to be faithful in marriage, wise Solomon ended in failure for his many wives, David ruined his family because of his adultery and murder. Be thankful to God for what He’s given you, and call out to Him today for eternal salvation.

  • Stephen Zumbo


    I have never been married and don’t know if I ever will be, because of disability. Marriage, like everything in this sin-cursed world, must be very hard to do right. Yet God still commands wives to respect their husbands and husbands to lay down their lives for their wives, no matter how their spouses respond. He will judge the sinning spouse and honor the obedient one. If you’re in such a bad situation as you described, or are angry because of someone who is, tell them: trust God, get help from a trusted pastor or persons in your church, step out if your life or the life of your child is at risk. Stay away if your husband will not repent, but do not take that as freedom to remarry. But that is certainly not the kind of marriage on view in the article

  • Anna clayton

    I’m trying to rebuild trust with my husband. There was an affair 3 yrs ago and trying to get reconnected. Any suggestions? With 4 kids its hard to get that couple time. I’ll be keeping in touch.

    • Kim

      Anna: May I suggest a couple of resources? “His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard Harley and also “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.

    • Anna, It is very difficult to get trust back after this has happened. I think it is important to give yourself time to heal. Stacie Eldridge writes a wonderful book on Healing after something like this has devastated your marriage! It is difficult to read books on loving him more when your in such pain yourself. It is okay to go through a mourning time for what was broken in your marriage also.
      But I do believe restoration is also possible-thanks be to God!

    • Josef Sefton

      That’s wonderful Anna that you are making such an effort. Be very encouraged for your desire to trust again is a blessing from God. My suggestion is finding some Christian music that you love and when you husband is fresh and relaxed play it in the background softly, even when you are busy with your children.

      Do some research if you haven’t already done it to find out what Christian music moves your husband and helps him to be more pro active in studying the Bible and praying. The key to your happiness is Christ, so anything you can do to know Him better will be blessing to you.

      I love Jesus’ words, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. That’s my prayer for you and your husband to share more and more purely with each other. Feel hugged and supported for God loves you!

    • Anna- we have 4 kids too. It is really hard to connect! Some of our best times are when the kids are down in the evening (shut off electronics, stop cleaning, etc. and just connect in the bedroom.) Regular date nights have also helped us and getting a sitter who isn’t too expensive. Thanks for sharing.

  • Shandra

    I had tears running down my face while reading this. Some of the things you wrote were needed reminders this day.

    • Thanks for reading Shandra! I’m glad it encouraged you in some way.

  • Regina

    I am with you all the way on this. I so agree.

  • Hi Samantha – I was hired a few months ago at Believe.com to write their blog. It should be up and running soon! Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a ton of reading here as well as headline rewriting! I’m taking two secs to tell you how much I have truly enjoyed reading your posts and your contributions. You’re a lovely combo of real with Biblical truth. You’re inspiring without being condescending. It’s a refreshing change and I look forward to working with you as my blog gets up and running! Andrea


  • Sara

    Thank you for a lovely article. I don’t know what your beliefs are about marriage after death, but the whole “death do us part” thing has always made me a little sad. I don’t mean to proselytize, only share my belief that we *can* be with our spouse again in the next life as husband and wife. I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and when we are married in the temple we are sealed as husband and wife “for time and all eternity.” What a beautiful blessing and comfort when we lose a spouse, to know that our marriage is not over, that we will be reunited one day.

    Thank you again for your article and all you do to help people start off marriage right, and stay happily married! It’s important work you are doing and I know you are blessing lives and marriages.

Copyright © 2014 Start Marriage Right. Disclaimer