To Thee I Pledge Thee My…Trough??
To Thee I Pledge Thee My…Trough??
Written By Mark Elfstrand, Cultural Affairs Writer   |   06.21.24
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The parties shall remain nameless, but since both are now deceased, I feel at liberty to repeat this story. At the wedding rehearsal the evening before the big event, the bride and groom were practicing their traditional vows. Apparently, the groom was unfamiliar with the term “troth,” an old English term meaning “my word.”

So instead of saying what the minister had said correctly, the groom blurted out, “I pledge thee my trough.”

Something used to feed animals. The minister corrected the groom’s mispronunciation and jokingly added, “your bride is not a pig.” The attendees roared with laughter.

Since both of my sons got married during the month of June, I became curious: what month of the year do most weddings take place? Sources can vary slightly in the answer to this, but the numbers seems to indicate the most popular wedding months tend to be June, October, and September. May and August are close behind.

I’m pleased to say all three of my children have married well enough to stay married! The vows seem to have held. The same for my wife and I—nearly 48 years strong.

Illinois manages to have one of the better statistics for low divorce rates in the country—1.6 divorces per 1,000 marriages. This is down from over 3% a few decades ago. Certain religious beliefs may contribute to that.

One of the most interesting perspectives on what breaks up a marriage is found in the book Blink — by Malcolm Gladwell. It was in his chapter on “Thin Slicing” wherein he cited research from John Gottman of the Gottman Institute. After much testing among his clients, he concluded that four particular factors were most likely to lead to a marriage breakup.

He called them, appropriately, The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling.

Gottman spells out details for each in the article I attached in the link. Of these four horsemen, one stands out above the rest: contempt. Here is Gottman’s description:

“When we communicate in this state, we are truly mean—we treat others with disrespect, mock them with sarcasm, ridicule, call them names, and mimic or use body language such as eye-rolling or scoffing. The target of contempt is made to feel despised and worthless.”

In counseling many couples, Gottman claims that identifying these “four horsemen” is an important first step. But knowledge of these is not enough. A couple must replace them with healthy, productive responses to each other.

Next, consider the question of Prenuptial Agreements. I assumed such contractual arrangements were of the more modern era. Alas, in Alicia Searl’s article, How Should Believers Navigate Prenuptial Agreements?, I learned differently.

She writes,

“The history of the prenuptial agreement (prenup) dates back to ancient Egyptian times and was often used as a means to care for a widowed woman…These contracts were written up to protect the wealth and property that came from both the bride’s and groom’s families. Due to prearranged marriages then, a bride was given away with a dowry, and a groom was to pay her family to marry her. This nuptial agreement was designed to ensure that she would have rights to wealth and property if her husband passed away.”

From my perspective, I think a more realistic prenup should cover truly important things such as:

  • Who gets to set the temperature in the house?
  • Who gets the last word on choosing carpet and paint colors?
  • Will a Man Cave be supported by the bride?
  • How much closet space does each party get?
  • Is there a time limit on overnight stays with the in-laws?
  • How do we resolve a fight over the Cubs and the White Sox?

Like I said, the really IMPORTANT stuff.

For important guidance on marriage, the Bible has several pointers. First, marriage is between a man and a woman. No multiples here. Second, the marriage is a covenantal agreement. For life. (No, that doesn’t make it a life sentence.) Also, forget about “no fault” divorce.

A couple of other biblical instructions for believers:

  • Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
  • Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
  • Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

[Learn more on these three points by reading Ephesians 5. Most any translation will do.)

The traditional marriage vows: “For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health. To love and to cherish. Until parted by death.” 

Want a marriage that lasts? Repeat those phrases often. Then live them out.

And don’t confuse troth…with trough.


Mark Elfstrand, Cultural Affairs Writer
Mark Elfstrand is a Christian husband, father and grandfather. A 40-year radio veteran, Mark has been a drive time air personality in Sacramento, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, including WMBI and WYLL. He has also served in various ministry leadership positions. His current endeavors can be found at
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