On our last post Getting That Stubborn Stain Out, I introduced the idea of using COFHE to deal with those STUBBORN MARRIAGE PROBLEMS. With each letter representing an important step to dealing with marriage conflict; C – commitment, O – ownership, F – forgiveness, H – hope, and E – empathy. On this post I will focus on commitment. There is a lot to say, so let’s jump in.
C is for COMMITMENT.
Commitment in marriage is an absolute essential for a marriage to last. It’s the promise we make to each other, “until death do us part,” that gives us the hope of going the distance of being married for life. And even if we are challenged with very difficult circumstances, it is this promise of commitment that sees us through. In Life decisions, I talked about my own hopes for a lifelong marriage and how commitment seen me through some difficult times. All marriages start out with this vision of going the distance of being married for life.
But, have you ever questioned the reason for saying wedding vows? Could it be that the vows themselves are indicators of what challenges a marriage will face? For better or for worst, in sickness or health, for richer or poorer, are just some examples of what we have all said. We said these vows as a way of swearing our commitment to each other through whatever circumstances we would face. We swore our commitment in preparation for the tough times. No one ever swore their commitment for something that is easy, fun, and always enjoyable, there’s no need for it. But when we commit ourselves to something that promises to challenge our commitment, we swear a vow to ensure our commitment.
What is COMMITMENT?
In their book,” I love you more,” Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott refer to the book, The Heart of Commitment (Nashville: Nelson, 1998), by Dr. Scott Stanley at the University of Denver. They wrote “after years of research, he has concluded that the term commitment is generally used in two ways.
The first involves constraint and engenders feelings of obligation. It keeps a couple married, not because their hearts are necessarily in it, but because they gave their word.
The second aspect to commitment involves dedication and engenders enthusiasm and involvement. It translates into active devotion to one another and to the marriage. It’s no surprise that studies show dedicated couples battle bad things better than couples who are committed only out of constraint.”
Committed to keep love alive
Through out the difficult years of my own marriage I was committed to stay married as in keeping my vow. But I was not committed to my marriage and my wife in terms of being dedicated and actively involved to nurture a healthy relationship. This idea of keeping our love alive and growing has made all the difference in our relationship. It is through this approach of commitment that we are able to resolve any conflict that may come our way. Because our ultimate goal above any issue we might disagree on, is the health of our marriage. In a sense, our marriage is always in project mode. We are constantly aware of how important it is and we actively pursue how to make it better.
Commitment creates security. Security invites intimacy.
Don’t believe the lie that a marriage needs the mystery of uncertainty to keep love alive. There are those that teach and believe that full commitment leads to complacency. And if you keep a little mystery as to the depth of your commitment, you will engender a consistent pursuit from your spouse. That idea actually allows couples to perpetuate their sense of insecurity and thereby cutting off their deepest longing, which is to be intimately known by each other. The purpose and goal of marriage is to create oneness. Oneness can only be achieved within the context of complete commitment.
Committed to a Covenant
In closing, marriage is a covenant, it is not a contract. A contract can easily be broken, a covenant cannot. One of the best ways to make this point is look at how God demonstrates covenant. He says, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you.”
First, He “never leaves.” He is committed to always be present with us. He has given His word and He won’t go back on it. Therefore He has bound Himself to us. Then also, He will not “forsake us.” He is dedicated to our well-being. He wants to care for us and He will not abandon us. He wants to be as actively involved with us as we will let Him. He wants to do this thing called life, together with us.
That is the way we should approach our marriage. “I give you my word, I will never leave.” And “I will not let you feel like you are all alone and isolated.” “I will be actively dedicated to your well-being.” That is the true essence of a marriage commitment. That is what it means to be Committed to a Covenant.
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