Amish marriage

Suzanne Woods Fisher has an interesting piece on Amish marriage in the Christian Post.  Suzanne shares examples of Amish married couples, and reasons why Amish marriages last.

amish marriageFirst and foremost, of course, is that Amish do not tolerate divorce.

Not that Amish married life is always smooth sailing, a fact that Suzanne notes in her post.  There are some instances of separation among Amish, though rare–you occasionally hear of one spouse leaving the other.

This may come with a departure from the Amish church as well (or may not).  To their credit, many Amish recognize a need for counseling in some marital unions.

Suzanne asked me for a few thoughts on longevity in Amish marriages.  Here’s a bit of what I shared:

“Mulling the divorce option in the back of the mind when things get tough in a relationship—I think that just sucks energy away from where it could be used constructively to strengthen a relationship. Not that that is necessarily the reaction of Amish couples to sit down and say ‘hey how can we fix this’—there are definitely communication issues like anywhere else—but the impact of the messages of Christian love that get repeated in Church and daily devotions and everywhere else in the culture cannot be overstated.”

Now, the caveat here is that I am not married. But I know a number of you are.  So what do you think?  What makes a marriage last?

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    1. Christina

      I’ve only been married for 8 years, but for us it was the vows. We took our vows very seriously, these were said before God and we meant them. We also took the stance that divorce is not and will never be an option so we have to figure out how to make it work if something ever happened.

      I’ve also known my husband practically my whole life. He’s my best friend and I trust him completely. That helps.

    2. lanore

      My hubby & I have been married for 34 yrs now and I can say it has not always been easy…but you have to talk(for me not so easy) and work thru whatever it is your going thru. You are going thru it together, and like Christina divorce has never been an option. One of the vows says for better or worse. We had both and are still together and better than ever. =-D

    3. Lee Ann

      I like both of your inputs Christina and lanore. I never thought I would go through a divorce myself, but I did after 27 years of marriage. It takes both to work on a marriage. Communicate, and thoughtfulness of each other goes a long way. If there is no communication and no trust, its hard to make a relationship work.

      Also it takes a willingness in each other to work together. Making each other feel valued everyday brings so much harmony in a relationship.

    4. Theresa

      We have been married 30 years this October 24th. I agree with the other comments. It does take work to make a marriage work; it is not always easy but there has to be willingness to give and take.

    5. Char

      Commitment. Love brings you together, commitment keeps you together.

    6. Robin

      My husband & I met & married in college and have been married for 37 years. Before we got married we talked about where we would compromise and where we wouldn’t compromise. We both agreed that marriage is serious business and that we shouldn’t get married if we thought for a minute that divorce was an option. Our parents and grand parents also set very good examples of “until death do you part.”

    7. Forest

      My wife and I have been married going on 15 years, and I would say that some of the important factors are hard work, communication, a sense of humor, and the ability to put your spouses needs ahead of your own. Prayer time for the family is also important, on a regular basis. The Scriptures have laid out guidelines for a Christian marriage, which, if followed by both partners, should result in a successful, long-lasting relationship, and provide a good example not just for the children, but for those around you.

      Sadly, too many children today are raised in households where there is not a good example of how wives and husbands should relate, and so they then go on to have unsuccessful marriages of their own. I try to always be the kind of man that I would want my daughter to marry. (With varying degrees of success…)

    8. ramblinjodie

      Marriage is lots of ups and downs. Its not easy at times but you work your way through it. We’ve been married 58 years, more good times than bad.

    9. We just took divorce off the table. It’s not an option. I think that the fact that both my husband and I had parents who had not divorced helps make this easier to keep it off the table. Not that everything isalways rosy – and toss in a child with a brain tumor and sometimes the stress level is much higher than we like. However, we both have found things that we like to do away from each other and going off and doing those things and having some alone time every week does help for us.

      On our 10th anniversary, I teased my husband and said we should have taken bets on our wedding day on how long we would be together. We would be millionaires. I was 19 and my husband was 21 when we got married. We had only known each other for a year and only dated for 6 months. Yet somehow, we just celebrated our 16th anniversary this summer. 🙂

    10. When divorce is not an option, people will try to stick it out even when there seems no hope. But as soon as the divorce door opens a crack … why even try??
      Of course there are many couples still married that are in virtual divorce, but if divorce had been an option they wouldn’t even be trying.
      The bottom line for Plain people and others who do not accept divorce and remarriage is that they know what God has said about the matter, and if love cant keep them together, at least a healthy fear and respect for God’s ways does. It would be better if a couple stuck it out because of love, but there are still blessings for those who respect and obey God’s laws, even if it is done out of fear and not love.
      As a boy only 30 years ago, I can remember when divorce in our country still carried social stigma in the (non-Plain) community. My parents told me of their youth, when divorce was practically unheard of. Now the mass media has so successfully crammed their immorality down the throats of the children for a couple of decades that they are not ashamed of their perverted deeds. Mike

    11. I am not married so I am not to speak here but hopefully I will be soon (I am engaged). However I started thinking about the fact that research has shown that if one couple in a family or close friend’s circle divorce others follow suit. My parents didn’t divorce even if there would probably have been valid reasons to do so. None of my brothers or sisters are divorced either even though they have not had perfect marriages either and I do think my parents have been an example. However, I think my parents were also a bad example because neither one of them treated the other one as well as one should treat their wife/husband and in this they have also been a bad example. I want to take the good from them but I also take the bad as a warning.

      I believe that divorce is allowed for a Christian but no remarriage unless the reason was infidelity or if the former spouse dies before you, then you can marry again after that point.

      1. Mike

        On Divorce

        I’m surprised to see most folks still hold to the unbiblical idea that fornication or adultery is a viable reason for divorce. Actually, neither God no His Son ever said it was ok to divorce because of these reasons. God, in the Old Testament, said “and if he later find some UNCLEANNESS in her….” and this is the only Biblical reason for divorce given. Fast forward to the New Testament where we find what appears to be either a contradiction, or a correction. Neither is acceptable, since God never changes, and therefore, His WAYS never change. Jesus stated, in effect, that only fornication is an acceptable reason to PUT AWAY ones wife. This is not a divorce, but rather a forceable ejection, or “throwing out” of the wife. There is no bill of divorcement, hence no freedom to remarry. This is clearly not the case under the divorce statute God gave to Moses. Actually, if you look at the original language of Jesus’ comments you find that he never said “fornication” either. The actual word He used here is “pornia” which meant “sexual sin”. This word, which I may have mis-spelled, is used to encompass ALL sexual sin, including fornication and adultery. The reason for this allowance is due to the law requiring fornicators and adulterers to be stoned to death. Dead people can’t repent, so this was an act of mercy, which God also preferred to sacrifice. This is why Jesus said “Moses suffered you to put away your wives….”
        I’ve heard some say that Jesus changed the divorce statute for the New Testament, but He clearly wasn’t talking about divorce here, as the conditions for allowing divorce are different than those for putting away, and putting away was also condemned by God in the Old Testament.
        I realise this is long, and perhaps unpopular, but since what we’ve been doing in the church hasn’t stemmed the tide of divorce, perhaps it’s time we started paying attention to what god actually said instead of what some hand-me-down traditions dictate. Perhaps somewhere in doing so, we’ll find a formula for lasting, fulfilling marriage that actually works without false guilt and condemnation. One that works in love, not in coercion and manipulation.

    12. Amish Marriage

      Thanks for linking to that Christian Post article, Erik! And I enjoyed reading your readers’ comments. A theme popped out: a commitment to a lasting marriage is strongly influenced by others’ example, and the seriousness of a promise/vow. You have classy readers!

      Happy travels, Erik. Stay safe and come back soon!

    13. Roberta Klooster

      Making Marriage last

      I think the key is lining up our thoughts with the Word of God. My first husband died young and I remarried seven years later. Those were my rebellious years and I learned painfully the pits we dig for ourselves when we go our own way. I then found a great church and a personal relationship with Christ. We had six teens (mine & his), one in heavy rebellion and what a strain on a new marriage! But with Godly counsel and lining our thoughts and responses up with God’s word I now have the marriage I always dreamed of.

    14. Gisa

      I could kill my husband, but I never would divorce!

    15. Linda

      Amish Marriage

      44 years and still going. love is lost and then found again over and over as the years go by. commitment means for life, and family is the real purpose of staying together. What better message can you give your Grandchildren then being kind and forgiving towards your spouse?

      1. Shawnie

        Amish Marriage

        I like what you said Linda, and I totally agree – I’ve only been married 15 years but I’ve also found that love will come and go, then come again, if you wait long enough [smile] – commitment is key

    16. OldKat

      We celebrated 33 years this past July. I think if she were here to read this she would agree with the earlier posted comments, too. In fact, my wife and I were just talking about how we met, how we started to date, how we decided to get married and how fast the past 33 years has flown by while we were on a little trip this past Saturday afternoon in route to a college football game. We came to the conclusion that one of the biggest things for us was that we were friends for a couple of years before we started to date. We have also continued to be friends. We pretty much do everything together. Over time I have found that the things that I did that did not include her; hunting, fishing, water skiing (she does not swim) and so forth have lost their appeal for me. That made way for more family oriented activities, though I know plenty of folks that do those sorts of things as a family. She was not interested in them so I curtailed them, but did not necessarily eliminate them.

      Another big thing is that at times both of us have had jobs that were very stressful. Often we would come home complaining about things that happened at work including how frustrated and mad we were about it. The next thing we knew we would be mad at EACH other. Finally, we came to an agreement that if we had frustrations at work it was okay to talk about them, but only in the context of how we would find solutions to those issues and not how mad we were about them. We also agreed that if a work related issue was intolerable and irresolvable, we would manage the problem by changing jobs. I’ve actually done that twice; the last time being 5 years ago, after working for my previous employer for 22 years. I’d rather change where I draw my pay than change my spouse.

      We have never had a screaming, throwing things sort of disagreement. We have had cases where we weren’t talking to each other for half a day or so. While I can’t count the number of disagreements that we have had on one hand, I probably could count them on two hands if I could actually remember them. I don’t think we have had any sort of disagreement whatsoever in the past 15 years or more, so I have lost track of those early tough spots.

      Finally, and maybe as equally important, is that we don’t spend money that we don’t have and don’t buy things that are unnecessary … UNLESS there is spare money available to pay cash for them. May be a simplistic formula and may not work for everyone, but it sure has for us.

    17. Lattice

      I have loved reading these comments. I wish so much that I had married a man that shared my values. It’s my fault, really. There were signs before we got married that he could not be happy with just one woman, especially after the “new” wore off. Of course, I have my faults, too. I hung around through a couple of his girlfriends, finally just moved out due to frustration and embarassment(after ten years). I don’t believe in divorce. I know that, in God’s eyes, we’ll always be married. We never divorced. Separated six years now. It suits his lifestyle just fine, but what a lonely life for me! How I wish I could have married someone who was in it through the thick and the thin. This is not a sob story, it’s just a warning… If you believe that marriage is for life, like the Word of God says, then always remember that the person you marry is the second most important decision you will ever make!

      1. JannaG

        I can relate. I married someone who turned out to NOT be a one woman man. I didn’t know that at the time, although I did know he wasn’t a Christian. That was a bad move on my part. We did divorce. I will say that I’m not Amish though I am a Christian. I have been single for about 8 years. You’re right. It can be lonely. Some of my friends and family try to get me to date, but I don’t even want to. Even if I choose to believe I’m eligible for remarriage, I’m very scared to risk being trapped with someone else who will put me through much pain.

        I learned from people in my Divorce Care support group and from other Christians that marrying another devout Christian doesn’t guarantee the marriage will last. Some devout Christians are faithful for years and then fall away into infidelity. I decided to put my effort into trying to make my single life happier and more useful to the Lord. I used to cry over missing physical contact. Then, I realized that I’m not the only one who feels that way. If I can give someone else a hug, I lighten both our burdens. I missed companionship and I found friends who do to. It was a very difficult struggle and took years, but I’m starting to see the light.

    18. Debbi

      My husband and I have been married for almost 9 years. There are good times and bad times, but we always make sure to talk it through. Yes…it’s not always easy and sometimes it takes awhile. Half the time we end up laughing at how silly some of our spats are. I think we’ve learned to take each other how we are not how we expect each other to be. He’s not only my husband, but he’s my lover and my very best friend. Never giving up and always asking God to help us weather the storm is very important to us. We want to set an example for our children and let them know that just you because you may be different in some ways, that difference helps you understand each other better. It helps us grow!! We’re not willing to throw in the towel when we hit a bump in the road. I love him for who he is. Yes even with his little quirks that irk me sometimes:D He loves me for me and my MANY quirks!!!! Thank God He gave me such a wonderful man!!

    19. Lois Morgan

      Married for Life

      AS a minister, I have married many couples over the years. Sadly , I have seen many of these marriages end in divorce, even though children may be involved. People today seem to have no concept of divorce affecting the whole family, just in ending their own displeasure.
      Another thing I see is that young people meet someone in a bar, go out a few times, sleep together as soon as possible, and then move in together well before any thought of marriage. There seems to be a disconnect between unmarried cohabitation and a moral, wholesome family. Being married is a unique situation, one that can be part of one’s identity only after years of struggling to be known as one’s self. Ending a marital work in progress is possible in this country, for the ones who truly have married a person who lied about who he or she was or behaved badly as the strains of life bore down upon him, but too often true marriage which is only attained through time and effort has no meaning to those who are impatient with someone else’s growth. That’s where love, true and selfless love, comes in. Love forgives a lot of things and while personal growth is happening, love can ease lots of burdens.

    20. Debbi
    21. Margaret Peterson

      We have been married 33 years. I love my husband more today than I did when we married, and I know he would say he also loves me more. While we loved each other very much then, only living through the every day events and struggles and joys can strength young love into a mature, powerful love. We are both stronger individuals because of what we have learned together through the years. We also see our marriage as a triangle, with God being the top point. We know that since God is the head of our household, and the closer we grow to Him, the closer we grow to each other.

    22. Mary


      I was blessed with many of these comments. Many of them were right on! My husband, being a pastor has many times said that there was never a marriage that couldn’t have failed, and neither a marriage that couldn’t have succeeded. If divorce isn’t an option then those that have succeeded worked through their differences instead of turn their backs on each other. We will be married 41 yrs. this month and our love is stronger and deeper then the day we were married. Divorce was never an option.

    23. annmarie

      Loved reading all these comments. Married my hs sweerheart…have 5 kids…. As the kids grow, tougher issues brew…and I believe the sentiment that has been posted here…Committment and compromise are key. Marriage is work…to make it last, you need to put the time in. Like anything else in
      life. If you wanted to be the best baseball player…you would put the required time in to attain that goal. Well to be the best spouse…you need to do the work.
      However, I just wanted to comment on Lattice’s comment…while I do believe in God’s word, I also believe a loving God who sent his only begotten son for us, would not want you to PAY for the rest of your life for a MISTAKE you made. He loves us too much…and that situation is out of your control.

    24. Dena

      Our vows and the fact we don’t consider divorce to be an option. We work things out. So far it’s worked for almost 24 years!

    25. Ed

      Married nearly 10 years. My wife and I took a very different route to a good marriage than some others. We dated for a long time and lived together before marriage. We also never said “divorce is not an option”, believing it foolish or naive to do so in this culture. We take things day by day and grow stronger with each other as each day passes. Entering the marriage knowing that we share many of the same values has meant little arguing over typical hot button issues for couples like money or spending or family.

    26. Julie Turner

      Amish Marriage

      I think Amish marriages work,(and this may sound very old fashioned), but Amish marriages work because both husband and wife know their place in the marriage. The man is the head of the home and although a couple may discuss things together, in the end it is the man who ultimately makes the decisions for them both.
      Because the wife is happy for the husband to do this, it brings harmony in the home.
      The Amish see marriage as a blessing from the Lord, something to be cherished between two people. Also the Amish treat each other with great respect as man and wife throughout their lives.
      I think the Modern world can learn a lot from them.

      1. Traci Banville

        @ Julie Turner

        You are absolutely correct.
        what the girls and women who think they want to “join the Amish”, (and I suspect that there motives are based in wanting to marry an Amish man)do not realize, is that these are not modern men, they are very traditional and if you are a modern, opinionated,think you are going to wear the pants female, you are going to be in for a shock. If you are running away from your parents, boss, marrying a bossy man,etc. then you would do best to not run in the direction of the Amish. The girls who leave the community do so because of some of these reasons so why would you want to join, even if they would let you?
        Everyone who has the “join the Amish” fantasy, (and it seems to be an epidemic) needs to make a realistic pros and cons list.

    27. What a great bunch of interesting, thoughtful, heartbreaking, amusing, challenging, and inspiring comments. Thanks to everyone who’s shared so far. You give me food for thought!

    28. Dr._K


      As someone who has studied families and marriage, this topic brings up many relevant, well-studied issues. Commitment, communication, and compromise are keys. Respect for your vows is another foundational issue.

      But realizing you made a mistake, a horrid error, is not something you should take to the grave, as Annmarie stated. Abuse should never be tolerated, infidelity should not be accepted, and the creation of havoc is untenable. There is no respectable way we should bear that type of witness to our children, our church family, or the community.

      We have been called as a people to peace, and we should create peace. If that means we are to be single afterward, then so be it. I have counseled persons on both sides, to divorce and remain together, and it is a burdensome experience to see the incivility which occurs. There are some persons who move out hastily and become impatient with themselves. But if there is a true commitment to work, to stop the hostility, then the marriage can be saved. Unequally yoked has many definitions, and letting someone go in peace is a humbling acknowledgment of our sinful heritage.

      And I too think I have the spirit of G-d.

    29. Mary in Michigan

      What Makes Our Marriage Work?

      In a word…. GOD is what makes our marriage work. All of the “love”, “committment”, “conversation”, etc., etc., doesn’t mean a hill of beans if you don’t have God front and center in your lives every single day. Darrell and I have been married for 9+ years. We started out as best friends and have only grown closer and it’s all because of God in our lives on a daily basis.

    30. Margaret

      Divorce can save lives

      While I recognize that some people see divorce as being “the easy way out”, in some cases, it’s the hardest. How many women stay in abusive marriages because they are too scared – or it seems too dangerous – to leave? I wish that my mother could have had a loving marriage. But I am thankful that she found the courage to divorce my father after years of abuse. She is now healthier, happier, and safe. I don’t believe in a God that would value marriage vows over safety.

    31. Lindsay

      My husband and I have been married for 3.5 years. We are both non believers, so obviously our marriage isn’t based on biblical principles. One thing that I believe makes us work is we both come from broken home, and we realized the value of communication in relationships through watching our parents mistakes. Also, we affirm each others love and respect for each other on a daily basis. We do share some common interests, but we encourage and support each others individual interests. We are one another’s best friends and confidants, and we enjoy each others company.

      It works for us, but what makes couples work is very individual. I could never be with a man who wanted me to stay at home or to give up my biggest passion in life (which is running). My husband would be miserable if he was with someone who was emotionally high maintenance.

      At the same time, no one should be in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. I’m extremely glad parents parted ways as my father was emotionally unstable. She later married a man who I consider to bed my dad and who has enriched m life in so many positive ways. My mum in law divorced my father in law after being public ally humiliated, and is now married to a man who is a wonderful partner. I don’t people should give up at the first sign of trouble, but I’m very glad the stigma of divorce is gone.

    32. Zuzu


      My husband and I have been together since I was in High School, 33 years ago, and married for 26 years.

      What other people do or do not do does not effect our marriage. We make our own life. My own parents are divorced and so are many family members and friends. This doesn’t effect us in the least, as we have our own free will. Our own choices determine what happens in our marriage. Who gets married to whom also makes no difference. We are ONLY responsible for our own marriage, what other people do or do not do have no influence on our choices to continue to love each other.

      Our “secret” is not only that we love each other and enjoy each others’ company and work through our problems, but (and I’m surprised no one else has mentioned this) we make love as often as possible. We are very different than each other and this creates stress and friction. Making love cements our love and our marriage and I know it has sustained our marriage as much as much as the other things we do to stay married.

      I find many marriages fail and people stray into adultery when their partner in life refuses to show them physical love. I see this as the most common reason for divorce. It isn’t a way to control a spouse, but a way to love a spouse and keep a marriage together.

    33. Shawnie

      Response to zuzu

      I agree with Zuzu, love making in a marriage is
      crucial to keep both parties “in love” as
      It brings man and woman together as one

    34. Roberta Klooster

      Building on God's word

      We have a marriage that I dreamed of. My first husband died when we were young and I found deep faith in God through Jesus after trying “fun of the world”, which led to deep regret and sin. I’m not Amish, but I share their devotion to living life according to God’s word. Thirty-four years ago God gave me a godly man for my husband. We have turned to God for direction, wisdom, and the power of His love as we have grown together. Our bodies are failing now, but our love for one another continues to grow. What a joy and comfort to know we can depend upon that, and on God who created it, for companionship and support as we grow old together.

      I have found that chosing to respond to the struggles of life and my human thoughts and emotions according to the Bible has proven to be life given and produced results beyond “what I could ask or imagine”.

      There is no Rock like our God.

      1. Roberta Klooster

        Edit for "Building on. . "

        I meant “according to the Bible has proven to be life giving”.