The recent news that Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged is the perfect story for this hyped-up, celebrity-driven world. Three days after the announcement, I saw that there were over 8,000 stories about the royal couple on Google News. One headline appropriately read, "Middleton gets her man: Let the massive global overkill begin."
From the media I learned that:
- If my name was William and my wife's name was Kate, we could get free pizzas at Domino's.
- One of the most crucial questions for our world over the next few months will be what Kate's wedding dress will look like, and who will design it.
- I could help bring England's economy out of the doldrums by ordering souvenir plates and paperweights.
- Bookies were taking bets on what date the wedding will fall on, where they'll go on their honeymoon, and even what color the bridesmaids will wear.
- Since, in our world of social media, everything is really all about me, I could participate in a poll on, "Is Kate right for William?" and even pass on tips to the royals on how to have a good marriage.
The only notes of concern came from observers who were worried about whether Kate was wise to marry into the royal family. As one headline stated, "From Princess Diana to Sarah Ferguson, British royal marriages rarely end happily ever after."
Even those concerns, however, reveal something interesting about human character: In this cynical world of rampant divorce, people want marriages to succeed. As one writer said last week, "If any of you have ever stumbled across my ramblings before, you will know that I am not a big fan of our royals. So I found myself somewhat at a loss last night to understand why I (oh the shame) had a tear in my eye as I watched Kate and William talk of their engagement ... It was, I suppose, because we're all suckers for a love story. We had one, or so we mistakenly thought, with Diana and Charles. Now it's her son's chance to put it right."
I think deep down in the human soul, we want family. When we see marriage and family work, we're encouraged--even if we can't make it work ourselves.
Perhaps that why, when former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, announced last summer that they were divorcing, we saw such an outpouring of dismay in the media. Ellen McCarthy of the Washington Post spoke for many when she wrote, "Please, Al and Tipper, don't do this. For our sakes--don't."
Yes, famous couples divorce all the time. But we thought the Gores were different. Even if we didn't agree with their politics, we admired their marriage ... They're like the couple down the block with the lush garden and the annual Labor Day cookout. The pair who are always power-walking together and drinking wine on the front porch, who make you nudge your husband and say, "See? I want that." ...
We wanted to see the Gores--our parents, our friends, the neighbors with the porch--delight in their twilight years. Playing with their grandchildren, traveling together in a way they never could before, operating more slowly, but in union. We wanted to see them move into sweetness.
Do you sense the apprehension in those words? And the unspoken question? "If they can't make it, how can we?"
People want their marriages to last a lifetime. Yet, sadly, they often don't know how to do it. And that, in a nutshell, is why I work at FamilyLife. It's why I write these Marriage Memos. When people realize that they can't build the marriage and family they want so desperately, they are often open to hearing about God. When they realize they can't do it on their own, they understand their need for a Savior.
In just one November weekend, for example, more than 6,200 people attended 10 Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways around the country. Here are a couple quotes from those who went:
We are moving from a place of being ready to divorce to looking forward to growing together through Christ. This has given us important tools to do so.
We've been walking separate roads for many years. Infidelity was the final straw leading us to divorce. I was filling out the papers two days before we came to this event. Over the course of the weekend we found each other, wrote love letters that will be kept as reminders of our true love for each other. I granted forgiveness that my husband really needed. We are going to burn the divorce papers when we get home!
In today's culture, the issues of marriage and family are open doors for the gospel--the Good News of Christ. Because people want their marriages and families to succeed.