Broken together in matrimony

By Benjamin Chase of the Plainsman
Posted 5/25/24

In this From the Mound, the writer examines realistic expectations for marriage

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Broken together in matrimony


“Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring you shattered dreams, and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together”
“Broken Together” — Casting Crowns

Casting Crowns is a Christian music group that formed in the late-1990s in Florida when a number of the group members were staff at a church in Daytona Beach. They continued working with a lineup that featured former (and active) church staff in music and youth ministry for the first half-decade of their journey before members moved in and out of the group, releasing the group’s first major label release in 2003.

“Broken Together” came out in 2014 as part of the group’s Thrive album, their seventh album release. The album also has the song “Just Be Held”, giving the group two songs that can be best described as melancholy on one album, but both songs ended up charting well for the group. “Broken Together” cracked the top-10 of Christian charts, peaking at No. 8.

Mark Hall, Casting Crowns’ lead singer and the song’s writer, explained that the lyrics for “Broken Together” came from conversations with multiple friends regarding their relationships. Hall explained, “We think, ‘This is going to be perfect. We’re not going to have problems.’ Then the problems hit and you don’t know where to file those into your picture.”

While Monday has a significantly more important day (that all-too-often gets missed in the travel and “family time” of the weekend), Memorial Day weekend is viewed by many in the wedding industry as the kickoff of “wedding season” that continues through Labor Day in September.

Later this summer will mark 10 years of marriage for my wife and I, and earlier this month, a wedding that I was the best man for celebrated 10 years. However, it was the review of a study recently on a financial podcast that brought the topic of weddings to mind.

According to a study by, the average wedding cost across all factors in the United States in 2023 grew to $35,000. The average wedding cost has increased 25% in just the past five years nationally, and by more than 37% since 2014.

Many will hear those numbers and assume that it’s a “them” problem, not something you see in South Dakota, and there is a level of truth behind that assumption. The average wedding among respondents to the survey from South Dakota in 2023 was $23,000. The issue is that South Dakota’s average wedding cost in the same survey has increased by a much higher rate than the national rate in the last decade, with a wedding in 2014 averaging $14,000.

That would be a 64% increase in a decade.

So, are all of these added expenses making marriages last longer after the expensive first day of the union?

In short, no.

A Forbes study examined divorce in 2023 and found that outside of a 2020-2021 dip in overall rate, the divorce rate is quite similar. The headline that came out of that study was frequently that the divorce rate had decreased from four per 1,000 people in 2000 to 2.5 per 1,000 people in that study.

What many of those headlines failed to take into account is that marriage rates had also come down notably, with 8.2 per 1,000 people in 2000 to six per 1,000 in the study. In other words, 2.2 fewer marriages per 1,000 people were taking place at the time of the study while just 1.5 fewer divorces per 1,000 people were happening.

(For what it’s worth, Forbes broke down the state-by-state divorce rates, and South Dakota was a little less than national, at 2.3 per 1,000 people.)

When my wife and I were planning our wedding, we reminded one another that as much planning as was going into the wedding, we were marrying one another, not “wedding-ing” each other. The point being that our focus was on the wedding day being one day of a lifetime together, not the focal point of the engagement.

We found ourselves in a vehicle, just the two of us, for an hour each way last weekend. On the trip down, we had many of the same conversations that we have in the rare minutes that we get from the last child going to sleep to my wife falling asleep after a long day of providing day care.

However, on the trip back, we talked through a “tough” discussion, spending the majority of the drive back having some real, honest, uncomfortable, but also fruitful conversation.

What often isn’t modeled nor explained to newlyweds is that your marriage will require those tough discussions, whether it’s about children, finances, who’s doing what among household and meal “chores” in the home, and so many other things that seem so minor, but when you live with someone and vow that it will be forever, those are the things that require negotiation and certainly conversation (rather than shouting, though that happens now and again as well, even in the most healthy of marriages) to ensure each partner is on the same page.

I’m blessed that my parents were able to model disagreements in a way that was working forward together in resolution rather than against one another. It gave a realistic understanding and expectation of marriage rather than the disillusion that many feel early on in a marriage when not all negotiations lead to getting your way or are “easy.”

In the Christian church, part of every service is some level of discussion of Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (NIV) There’s a reason why this verse is mentioned frequently in marriage ceremonies, as the couple along with God allows for a stronger union.

This same thought can be applied to bringing in a counselor or outside voice when the tough stuff really gets heavy in a marriage, something so many seem to be resistant to because of our “perfect” image of a marriage.

We all are broken people, living in a broken world, and even put together in a loving, healthy marriage, the expectation should not be that all that is broken will suddenly be healed. Rather, we can be broken together. Seriously, take some time to find the song on YouTube or Spotify or your preferred music source and give it a listen. I think you’ll find the words and message extremely poignant.

Congratulations to all those tying the knot this summer and blessings as you begin your journey of marriage! Remember that the wedding day, with all of its highs and its lows, is one day of that journey.