How is it possible to make promises such as marriage vows and keep them when you don’t know what is to come?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

A concern that often comes up when we are thinking about marriage is whether the person we choose to marry will be or remain faithful. Will they keep their marriage vows? Is it possible to make such promises and keep them when you don’t know what is to come?

We know that unfaithfulness in marriage, or adultery, is a big problem. It is a major theme throughout the Bible and we can see it all around us in our world today. One of the ten commandments addresses it specifically[1]. Adultery goes against the heart of God’s design for marriage where two become one[2].

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24


When we get married we publicly promise our spouse, and those witnessing the marriage, that we will be faithful. Most of us know what is meant by faithful. But a simple definition is to think of it as sticking by the person who you married through all circumstances and stages of life. It means not cheating on them with someone else.

Who they are and how they behave.

By getting married we are trusting that our husband or wife will remain faithful. So the first question to ask ourselves when building a relationship and then deciding whether or not to marry someone is “are they trustworthy?” We can start to know this as we see how they live, for example, do they do what they say they will, turn up when they say they will, are they faithful in a job or in handing in work at school or college?

Secondly, are they respectful? It is important that a married couple respect each other. A husband and wife are less likely to respect each other if they have not first learned to respect other people such as their parents, their teachers, their employers and older members of their families.

We should do our best to discern the character of the person we are marrying;

  • It is important to establish if they are truly a Christian – do they show the fruit of love for God? Do they put into practice what they say that they believe? Christians who are faithful to God are faithful to others as well.
  • We should also observe how they treat us before being married. Do they treat us with thoughtfulness and sexual restraint? What do they think is acceptable behaviour with others?
  • What do they believe about marriage and married love? Do they understand the importance of sexual purity before marriage and faithfulness in marriage?

All these questions are important in assessing whether we can have confidence that as a future spouse he or she would be faithful.

Your Part?

But our own behaviour affects this too. Not only do we have to consider carefully who we are marrying, but we, ourselves, must be prepared to be faithful and to be considerate as we live with our husband or wife. Will we honour them? Will we treat them as special in our lives, as a priority? Do we listen to them? Are we encouraging them in the marriage and in their everyday lives? We cannot stop someone else committing a sin, but we can minimize our role as a stumbling stone.

Throughout your marriage it is important to pray for one another and to trust that all is in God’s hand. Marriage requires constant maintenance and a team effort. Sometimes it is necessary to be careful about socialising separately, like going to a party without your husband or wife. Often married couples have to face difficult situations together; especially at those times it is vital to pull together and not let the difficulties drive you apart. But it is all worth it – happy and faithful marriages bring great happiness and security to families, to children, grandchildren and even to the community around.

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard, yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

Malachi 2:15

  1. Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.”
  2. Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”