On the eve of the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, has praised the institution of marriage.
But commenting on cohabitation before marriage, the Archbishop said it is common in these times and, quoting his daughter, people “want to test whether the milk is good before they buy the cow.”
Dr Sentamu said he had married many cohabiting couples, and emphasised that married couples are more likely to stay together than cohabiting couples because marriage is a public declaration of a commitment for life.
Writing in the Telegraph today the Archbishop remarked on how Prince William and Kate Middleton, as with every other couple, “will be asked first if they will ‘love, comfort, honour and protect…’ their spouse.”
He said: “The answer to this is ‘I will’. It will not be ‘I do’. We take it for granted that the bride and groom love each other on their wedding day, so there is no need to ask them if they do. It is what follows that counts”.
Dr Sentamu commented: “At the outset, the couple is asked to make a commitment, an act of will, for the future. Theirs is a resolution to love, comfort, honour and protect, whatever the circumstances.
“Someone joked that love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener. There are bound to be times in the future when the romance thermometer will barely register a reading; those who have said ‘I will’ and meant it, know only too well that feelings can wobble and are untrustworthy tests of authenticity, anyway.”
The Archbishop asserted: “Long-lasting marriages rely on mutual understanding and forbearance. Maturity discards rose-tinted spectacles in favour of seeing things as they really are.
“Discovering the depth and enduring meaning of love is the goal and prize of every relationship. Marriage in Britain, whether in church or a register office, is a pact for life made between one man and one woman”, said Dr Sentamu.
The Archbishop remarked that in “Britain today, marriage is one of those benefits that is kept a secret for fear of offending or sounding self-righteous”.
He commented that it was a pity because marriage was a good product.
He said: “Some 85 per cent of married people and 59 per cent of unmarried people believe that getting married is the most serious decision one can take.
And added: “Even larger percentages agree that ‘despite the challenges, marriage is important for society”.