Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 14, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven

I picked up a copy of the November 12th issue of the Khaleej Times, Dubai’s English language newspaper, just before boarding my flight from Dubai to Houston on Saturday. What I found interesting about this particular issue is that it featured three articles on marriage.

 A front-page article, entitled “A Date with Joy and Hope”, noted that thousands of couples throughout Asia had tied the knot on the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011. Aside from the novelty, this date is especially meaningful to the Chinese for whom numbers hold special significance. A nurse, who was among 460 ethnic Chinese couples who sealed their vows in Kuala Lumpur, said that the numbers 11/11/11 “rhyme with one husband, one wife and one soul in Chinese and signifies a marriage that would last a lifetime.”

In a related article entitled “Thousands of Asian Couples Rush to Wed on 11.11.11”, one of Hong Kong’s leading feng shui masters also said that November 11 was a good day for marriage because the numbers 11/11/11 signify eternal love. Many of the couples scheduled their ceremonies to take place at exactly 11:00 AM on this date that they believe is “the most auspicious in a century.” However, marriage planners said that “November 20 this year will be even bigger, since 20/11/2011 is an exact repetition of the numbers.”

Adding a bit of sobering perspective on marriage was an article entitled “Wife Beating Reason for Most Divorces in RAK.” RAK or Ras al-Khaimah, is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. The article also pointed out that “domestic violence among spouses was cited as the reason in 72 per cent of the marital disputes in Dubai this year.” Child abuse, husbands staying out late, and financial problems are other reasons cited in family disputes.

Ultimately, the strength of a marriage is based on something much deeper than a particular combination or convergence of numbers. In the long run, it’s not the date that determines the success of a marriage. If you tie the knot with an abusive jerk on your special day, chances are that you have just purchased a front-row seat to more of the same. And, lest we point a critical finger at Buddhists and Muslims, Christ-followers are no exception to marriage woes. That is why the psalmist cautioned, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those that build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1). Cheryl and I tied the knot on 22 November 1980 and have enjoyed a great marriage not because of the date but because of our determination to keep Christ at the center of our marriage.

Marriage takes a lot of hard work on the part of a husband and wife. I sincerely hope that those who exchanged vows on 11/11/11 will indeed stay married for a lifetime and enjoy every happiness. Ultimately, however, the success of these marriages will depend on how these spouses treat one another on every ordinary and inauspicious day of the year. A great marriage is built one day at a time.

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