Maintaining Lifelong Commitment
Choose faithfulness; divorce is not an option. “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage.” Hebrews 13:4
It means, among other things, that marriage is created by God and meant to be honored by everyone (Hebrews 13:4). Healthy couples believe marriage is permanent and that divorce is not an option. They look forward to their future together and see their marriage as one of the most important parts of their lives. They love each other and invest in their relationship. In strong marriages, couples expect to face challenges together and are willing to do whatever it takes to make their marriage work. How does all this play out in everyday life? Let’s take a closer look.
Marriage is a priceless gift
Lifelong commitment reflects and grows out of a realization that God created marriage and gave it to men and women as a priceless gift. Malachi 2:15 says, “God, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage…so guard the spirit of marriage within you.“(MSG).
Couples who stick together over the long haul understand that marriage is not merely a contractual partnership or a sexual liaison between two people. It’s a sacred and solemn spiritual mystery in the eyes of God. Of all the human relationships we could name, it’s the one used most frequently by the biblical writers to symbolize and describe Yahweh’s covenant with His people and Christ’s relationship with the church (see Ephesians 5:31, 32; Revelation 21:2).
Love is a decision
Lifelong commitment also implies that you love your spouse and make a decision to stay married “until death do us part.” In other words, divorce is not an option in your mind. At some point a husband and wife need to “decide” to love – even when they don’t feel like it. The word “decide” comes from a root word meaning “to cut.” You cannot make a commitment without deciding to cut off other options that compete against what is most important.
Burn the ships! This phrase refers to one of the most dramatic incidents in the history of the Spanish conquest of the New World. In 1519, conquistador Hernando Cortés landed in Mexico on the shores of the Yucatan intent on claiming the treasures of the Aztecs. Knowing that he and his men faced incredible odds, he changed the terms of the entire campaign by giving the order to “burn the ships.” With no way out and no fallback option, his men had no place to go except forward.
Successful married couples “burn their ships” by taking the word “divorce” completely out of their vocabulary. It’s a simple matter of commitment. “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6). Remember, retreat is easy when you have the option.
You like your marriage relationship
Another aspect of lifelong commitment is the ability to say, “I really like this relationship and want it to continue.”
“Marriage should be honored by all …” (Hebrews 13:4). Making the decision to stay together is one way to honor your marriage. But honor and commitment also involve the emotions and feelings. If you can say, “I value and like this marriage,” and really mean it, you’re on the road to building a relationship that will go the distance. Here’s what some of our seminar participants have said in answer to the question “What do you love about your marriage?“
- Having fun and laughing with each other
- Synergy: 1+1=3 (Tower of Babel; Genesis 11:6)
- Shared spiritual relationship
- Raising our children together (tag team)
- Making memories
- I have someone to celebrate with
- Sharing the deepest levels of intimacy
- Serving together
- Loving and being loved
- Married to my best friend
- Riding life’s roller coaster together (Adventure)
You take action
Last but not least, commitment isn’t simply a matter of “deciding” to stay married (will) or “liking” the relationship (feeling). On the contrary, commitment is primarily about taking active steps to maintain your marriage. As the Bible says, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17). It’s the same way in personal relationships. You demonstrate how important your marriage is to you by proactively investing time and money to make it better. During difficult seasons you fight for your marriage. In season and out of season, you show yourself willing to do whatever it takes to keep your relationship strong.
From the Focus on the Family website at focusonthefamily.com. © 2016 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission.