Many of today’s country musicians offer a look, sound, and music video just slightly backwoods of the Top 40 charts. But the genre tends to embrace its artists through the decades, giving listeners the advantage of hearing about marriages as they mature over the years. While some of country’s best known standards denounce “Your Cheating Heart” and ask “Who’s Cheatin’ Who”, let’s take a look at some songs affirming--not just healthy marriage--but actions that can preserve them.
“I was standing there cryin’ in the kitchen
It’s been one of those mornings that’s gonna last all day
And he comes in, wraps his arms around me
And I don’t even have to say a thing
That’s what makes it love
That’s what makes it a love song”
While sometimes we only want to talk about the challenges faced by married couples, with simple lyrics and a simple melody, the now Mrs. Shelton reminds us that the companionship and knowledge of your spouse in a good marriage can help get you through hard days. An added bonus is that she wrote the song with then-fiancee Blake Shelton, and one can only hope it served as a form of premarital counseling for the pair.
“When I said I do, I meant that I will
Til' the end of all time
Be faithful and true, devoted to you
That's what I had in mind, when I said I do
Well this whole world keeps changin'
And the world stays the same
For all who came before
And it goes hand in hand
Only you and I can undo
All that we became
That makes us so much more
Than a woman and a man”
Clint and his wife Lisa Hartman-Black recorded this ballad after about 8 years of marriage. I love how it speaks of the timeless quality of marriage in a world of shifting values. They also reference the sanctifying power of marriage and the way they, as a couple, have become more than just the sum of their individuality.
“Well back when I was selfish
I thought I needed more
But that road led me nowhere
And I closed that door
And now I love for
One woman, you, for me
I know that you’re all I’ll ever need
Forever beside you, spending my life loving
With Texas country’s contribution to the list, Randy may be interpreted as singing about renouncing infidelity in a relationship. However, I also see in these lyrics a rebuke of today’s culture’s putting off of marriage to have your fun first—showing that wild “free” living is ultimately unfulfilling and that true contentment is found in commitment.
“Lord knows we've had our share of fights
Our sleepless nights, our ups and downs
We've had plenty and then some of baby I'm gones and turnarounds
Sometimes I swear it might be easier to throw in the towel
Someday we're gonna look back
Say look at us now
That's why I keep on lovin' you”
As a woman who’s been married for over two decades, Queen Reba knows that a marriage between two imperfect people does not always look like a fairy tale, but that looking (and committing) to a shared future helps carry a couple through the hard times. Another thing that stands out in this song is that love is not simply an emotion, but an action often one of perseverance and self-sacrifice in order to preserve the marriage.
“They say time takes its toll on a body
Makes a young girls brown hair turn gray
Honey I don't care I ain't in love with your hair
And if it all fell out well I’d love you anyway
They say time can play tricks on a memory
Make people forget things they knew
Well it's easy to see it's happenin’ to me
I've already forgotten every woman but you”
In the happiest song on the list, Randy Travis promises love forever and emphasizes the committed nature of authentic love. Such a forever (and ever amen!) love sticks around regardless of circumstantial details, including the inevitable physical changes over time or other surprises over the years.
“Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse ‘I Love You’
Go to work, do your best, don't outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin' knees get lazy
And love like crazy”
This hit about a 58-year marriage speaks for itself (the song explicitly states that the chorus is based on a true story). It’s even more beautiful when you learn that it was based off the 50+ year marriage of Brice’s grandparents. Billboard’s #1 country song of 2010, “Love Like Crazy” spent 55 weeks on the charts--suggesting that we are hungry for marriage-affirming messages, even in our music.
These 6 were my choices, but I would love to hear your thoughts. Bonus points if you recommend a song I haven’t heard before.Media: