While there are many tools useful to sustaining your marriage, there is one tool you must have in your toolbox if you are going to be successful in your marriage: commitment. Of course, love, trust, compassion and grace are critical as well, but commitment is mandatory for a loving relationship.
Why do I place such importance on commitment?
The story of Jake and Lisa will illustrate the importance. I’ll let Jake tell his own story.
“Coming to The Marriage Recovery Center to work on my marriage was an important step, but not the most critical one. Certainly, taking time off, the travel, the preparation, the cost were all important factors. But the most important one happened in the middle of the second day.”
He paused and reflected.
“When Lisa confronted me with some stuff I didn’t want to hear, that was a turning point. Was she right and did I need to change? Was I going to be in this with her or turn away from her, rejecting what she had to say? If I pushed away, our marriage would be over at some point. I could embrace what she was telling me and see that she was for me and our marriage, or would I let pride stand in the way? Pride would leave me completely alone, still stuck in all the negative traits that I needed to work on. I chose to commit myself to her and work on our marriage together.”
I knew that every couple coming to see me had to make a similar decision—to protect themselves or risk being vulnerable and open themselves up to change. To choose to be in the process together, to grow together, to heal together.
While I was happy that Jake took the path of humility, I’m also reminded of the couples who have let pride get in the way. I’m reminded of the man who left a Marriage Intensive prematurely because he had his feathers ruffled. His path led to a lack of commitment and ultimate divorce. Did he win? Of course not.
There comes a time for all of us when we must choose to serve ourselves, (our shallow self) or serve others (for their best and ultimately our best as well.) This is usually a series of moments when we step back and decide if we are truly committed to the welfare of our marriage. If so, we will sacrifice momentary pleasures and self-protection for ultimate connection and commitment.
“We’re in this together and we will figure this out,” is the motto of couples who are dedicated to their marriage. No issue is too large to overcome. No trouble will divide us. No problem is too great to separate us for any length of time.
Here are some additional things to consider:
First, making a commitment to our mate establishes our mindset. Attitudes are critical to our wellbeing. Whether we have an attitude of being an overcomer or one who succumbs to adversity, your attitude determines how you will fare when trouble arises. Scripture tells us that we will face adversity, but it can make us stronger and connect us to one another.
Second, a mindset of commitment sets us on a path of healing and connection. Our mindset sets us on a particular path—one of connection and healing, or one of disconnection and conflict. Being connected on an agreed upon problem is powerful and enlivening. We gain strength and encouragement from each other. We can choose which path we will take. Choose wisely.
Third, working together helps us overcome any obstacle. A task shared is an obstacle divided. Working together not only shrinks the obstacle, but binds us to each other. We are, quite literally, in this together and determined to find solutions. This is not only empowering but gives added impetus to solving the problem. We are made to work together and find strength from one another.
Fourth, growing through adversity creates connection and intimacy. Teamwork connects us to one another. A shared goal facing a common “enemy” is powerful at binding us to each other. Ask anyone who has faced combat how important reliance on one another is to feeling safe and empowered. Consider the strength that comes from knowing you have someone looking out for you as you face a common problem. While you may be tempted to see your mate as the enemy, the one who not only will not protect you but the one causing your distress, choose to work together instead. Agree together on the shared goal, the shared path and the shared tasks for getting there.
Finally, trusting God, and each other, in adversity cultivates confidence for later issues. God is your ultimate source of protection. Knowing that God wants good for you and wants you to be well is your ultimate source of strength. Consider His promises of protection when feeling discouraged and vulnerable.
The prophet Amos says these words: “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3)
Is it time to have yourself committed? Is it time to stop being adversarial with your mate and choose instead to work side by side on a shared goal? If you would like further help, we are here for you. Please send responses to me at [email protected] and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website and learn about our Personal and Marriage Intensives as well as our newly formed Subscription Group, Thrive, for women struggling from emotional abuse.
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