Married for Life | Amish Secrets to Marriage

married for life blog

I just celebrated my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary with my husband. I’m not sure how we made it through a quarter of a century, but somehow we did, as well as three years together before that. Everyone is full of congratulations and well-wishers. Yet for most Amish couples, a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is standard procedure.

That’s not to say that they don’t celebrate, but there are many more Amish couples reaching this milestone than English couples. Everyone knows that Amish couples can’t divorce. So it’s easy for them, right?

Not particularly. Amish couples have a lot of the same problems as English couples. Job stresses, children stresses, and a host of other issues.

So how do Amish couples stay married for life?

They do a lot of the same things that English couples do.

My Amish friend Sadie was telling me about going to marriage counseling sessions with her husband. Well, we would call them counseling classes. They call them marriage enrichment classes. Instead of a one-on-one therapist-to-couple situation, four or five couples get together on a weekly basis to talk about how to keep their marriages fresh.

The men also have a “boys night.” The men all get together at someone’s house and have a singing.  Women are not invited. It’s just a time for them.

The women have “hen trips” and all the girls take a small get away jaunt to give them a little time away from children and husbands.

It’s a strong misconception that the Amish aren’t allowed to read their Bibles at home. Although this may be the case in some of the more conservative Amish sects, the average Amish couple does read the Bible together. What better way to feel close to one another than studying God’s word?

For the most part, Amish couples don’t have electronic devices that pull them away from their family time. Though with so many Amish men working off farms and in the English world these days, this too can become a problem for the Amish as it is for the English.

When people ask me how we managed to stay married for so long, I always tell them, the secret to being married is that you have to want to be married. For the Amish, divorce is not an option. Sadie once had a friend come stay with her for a while when the friend and her husband were having problems. The bishop talked to both the husband and the wife to help them work through their issues.

They have to remain married, though that doesn’t mean that couples have to live under the same roof. It isn’t well-accepted for couples to separate, though it has happened. I’ve even heard of an Amish couple who live their different lives though married and living in the same household. When I asked about this arrangement, I was told that the bishop felt the marriage was the most important thing and the couple needed to do what they had to do in order to keep it sacred. (Keep in mind that separate lives to the Amish does not have the same meaning as it does to the English.)

So once again, the Amish are not so far different than the English. They have their marital problems just like we do. The difference is how they handle those issues.

I love the joke about the elderly Amish couple who were asked how they managed to stay married for so long. The old gentleman replied, “Because neither one of us is dead yet.”

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Amy Lillard (52 Posts)

Amy Lillard is an award winning author who loves reading romance novels from Amish to contemporary. These two genres meet in her debut novel, Saving Gideon. Born and bred in Mississippi, she now lives in Oklahoma with her husband and their son. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached at amylillard@hotmail.com.


Comments

  1. This is great thanks for sharing Amy! I have always loved learning more about the Amish ways. I am getting ready to celebrate my 23rd Anniversary next month and I know it is an amazing milestone in today’s society. Marriage is like a job you have to really work at it to succeed. Sure we have had our ups and downs but that is what makes a marriage last longer. I love being a wife and a mother and it is work. I don’t mind it one bit because i know at the end of the day I have been blessed in abundance and i make each day count with the ones that I love.

  2. I enjoyed the blog. I never knew this info about the Amish!! I think not only wanting to be married but communication is a big part in a relationship also.
    Blessings
    Diana

    • Definitely, Diana! I guess I never really thought a bout it. Maybe even assumed that they had it easy because there was no other alternative, but they do work hard at keeping their marriages good and alive. 🙂

  3. They go by the Bible. GOD never meant for us to be divorced. Only out of the hardness of the hearts did HE give permission, and then only for one reason, adultery. But people just have to say they don’t get along to get divorces now days. I think it is so easy now that too many couples go into the marriage thinking “well if it don’t work I can just get a divorce.” You have to work at a marriage for it is not always Wine and Roses. And, if you really want it to last, we need to always have GOD as the head of our marriage. My oldest brother and wife have celebrated both their Silver and Golden Anniversaries and this year will be their 70th in August. I really believe they will make the next if GOD lets them both live 5 more years. But, he will be 90 on June 6th. And, if they get divorced, they are not supposed to remarry. Not my words but GOD’s. My parents only made it to 56 before GOD called my daddy home. Enjoyed your post Amy. Maxie

  4. Sandra Dailey says:

    What happens in a case of spousal or child abuse? I’m not being flippant, I’m asking seriously. By the way, I’m married for 34 years.

  5. Pauline Cotton Osborne says:

    I love to read stories of the amish. marriage to them I think works because they respect one another and work together to stay that way. thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing about the Amish. Warmest blessings to you and your hubby on 25 years of marriage. We will be celebrating 47 years this summer. I love being a wife and a mom. I love our little home. We try to live a simple and quiet life. This is very hard to do when so much is rush, rush, rush around us. We love visiting Amish communities. We love the peace, the quiet and the contentment that we feel when we visit their communities. We try to bring a bit of that with us when we come home. Sweetest Blessings ♥ Teri

  7. Lilian Kurtz says:

    Actually, Amish can and do get divorced, it’s becoming more common than you may think, they keep such things hush hush. Also, more and more Amish couples today are separating and living apart and not only as a result of excommunication. There are those living apart because they believe they CANNOT get a divorce, and thus after arrangements are made, are still allowed to attend the same church. I wish more people would spend the time and actually get to know the Amish on a personal level and stop with the romanticizing of their culture. What we are exposed to via TV and touristy Amish Hotspots, IS NOT the real deal! They are human, period.

    My stepfather is examish (old order and divorced)

    • Lilian…I am curious if your stepfather left the Amish before or after he divorced.

      • Lilian Kurtz says:

        They were both shunned at the time. His ex wife went to the her bishop and initiated a divorce. She wanted to remain Amish and and he did not. She had considered staying with him and they were in attendance at a Mennonite church for a long while, often times shunning/excommunication is lifted or the degree to which it is enacted is lessened if an Amish person goes to another conservative type of church. Also, sometimes an Amish couple can seek a new Amish church (usually more progressive) and the bishop can lift the excommunication, just like in the “outside” world, your financial/business etc is held in esteem. So if you are a wealthy business owner (typically construction) you are given priority.

        However there is also a few incidents (one in landcaster that I know of) where divorced Amish couple remained Amish and are in attendance at the same church. It’s not “spoken of much”. Part of their issue was a rather large family spat and her father (who is excommunicated Amish) had a lot
        to do with it. I don’t know the full details. Again, we are talking about a close knit community who keeps their secrets secret! Very very disciplined in what they share to the “English world”.
        Trust me when I say, if you are English and they are talking to you, the things they share are very guarded and often when they are confronted with questions, they wil reiterate what they have been instructed to say by their bishops and deacons. More-so now, than ever before, with all the books and reality TV and other media exposing false crap about them. Don’t get me wrong, the Amish as a whole are a very good people. My stepfather is able to see his children. Three are older and not baptized yet so they have more of a “free-rein” so to speak. By step brother Amos even has a car and is dressing mostly like most “normal” (English) teenagers. They all have cell phones and Facebook too. Actually quite a lot of Facebook an Instagram and most have cell phones (by just the Amish business man). When we visit wih his family, in public view, my father is treated as you can expect, sat at another table etc. but when no one is around, and it’s just only family, things are less extreme. It’s sorta that feeling in high school where the popular kids (this case the bishops and church communion) won’t talk to specific people (nerds or in this case Shunned/excommunicated…lol) yet when they aren’t in each other’s company and out of view family is MUCH less strict in their dealings with ex Amish. But again, this is relative to each individual families, some are VERY harsh. Old Order tend to be much more strict. The dynamic is weird, as the young unbapitized kids during a gathering where there are shunned/examish are instructed to do all the handing out of food etc since they are the only ones permitted to interact on a specific level with excommunicated. Like if my father’s mother wanted to hand him bread, he can’t take it directly from him, it must be passed by a non baptized member, non Amish, or simply placed down somewhere where he can then pick it up.
        I’ll try and answer questions as best I can. But I will say, he has been the only father figure I have ever known, he’s amazing and I love him as my own real father. My real father was killed in a car accident prior to my birth, so I never even met him 🙁

        • Lilian Kurtz says:

          I typed that response on my cellphone, so yeah, horrible errors. 🙁 I apologize, my phone and I don’t have a good texting relationship.

          • Lilian Kurtz says:

            My step father has three younger siblings who chose not to baptize into the Amish faith. One is working on being a minister and is doing aide work in Haiti right now. They all lived with us (not much older than I am) as they continued their education (GED) and did community college etcetera. His youngest sister who just married also had left and went on to college etc. the other brother who left is currently studying music and is amazing wth every instrument he picks up 🙂

            Another brother is still Amish but transitioned into a more progressive Amish church after his fourth child was born. Beachy Amish (aka the car Amish). He actually wants his kids to continue their education onward after 8th grade and a lot of the more progressive Amish are doing this. Either sending them to private religious schools, hiring homeschooling tutors, or some even are willing to send them to public school. Technically, they are allowed to continue their education as much as they would like prior to baptizing and in accordance to what their church community allows. In more strict communities there is a rise of Amish parents taking excommunication for a number of years just to get their kids more educated than 8th grade. But again, this is knowledge that often is not openly spoke of in the Amish culture. They are aware that times are changing and in order to stay in business they will have to adopt some of the technologies the English World has.
            My step father is in construction and still works for an Amish construction company. These guys are incredibly tech savvy! Working CAD design (3D digital design) very proficient on the computer. They are suppose to keep their computers AT WORK. But where lap tops and solar chargers are concerned. It’s like Vegas, what the bishops don’t know, the bishops can’t discipline for!

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