Matt Hancock resignation: 'Nobody walks down the aisle expecting to have an affair'
This week Matt Hancock resigned as Health Secretary after being accused of hypocrisy and lack of integrity. In rushing to publish such a front page scoop I fear that less attention was given to the indelibly sad consequence, not on Mr Hancock’s career, but the devastating effect of his actions on two marriages and six children.
For those closest to the parties involved this is not something that will ever be forgotten, even after the newspaper headlines fade.
Extra marital affairs cause havoc. I believe that committed relationships, of many kinds, are the bedrock of a stable society. Affairs feel so new, sexy and fun as they begin but very soon the shine comes off and the true impact becomes clear: marriages breakdown, trust is broken, the course of people’s lives are permanently altered without their consent. Children are confused, frightened and torn in two.
Nobody walks down the aisle expecting to have an affair, but I wonder how many people prepare themselves carefully to be married or in a long-term relationship?
Not many people know that most churches offer marriage preparation courses. This is because there are often some very big issues to think through in advance of ‘the big day’. These informal sessions happen with another couple who have been married for some time, and have learnt how to stay married through life’s inevitable ups and downs.
Relationships, like all long-term projects, take effort and commitment to stay alive. Marriage preparation helps couples think carefully through what it can mean when two lives become one. They are honest times, often funny, always revealing, as couples grapple with some of the most vital aspects like communication, money, sex, and our family backgrounds.
As a church pastor this year I had the pleasure of helping two local couples prepare to be married. Their stories were quite typical: one guy had married very young without much support and had sadly divorced soon afterwards. This time he was going in with his eyes open to his own faults and weaknesses, as well as the joy of the new love he has found. The second couple met through a Christian online dating website.
The difference for them was a decision to hold faith at the centre of their new marriage. So their ceremonies were ‘in the sight of God’ in our church, as well as being live-streamed to friends because of Covid.
May we honour and invest in marriage and relationships for the long-haul.