Every married couple envisions a lifetime of romance and bliss with the exchange of “I do’s” on their wedding day. The fabled, “…and they lived happily ever after.” And well they should.
The marriage relationship has the potential to be the most mutually beneficial, supportive, and fulfilling of all human relationships. But it isn’t guaranteed or automatic. It’s largely dependent on keeping the vow to stay committed to each other until death do us part.
Every person brings their past experience to the marriage.
My wife, Gail, grew up with conflicts often unresolved—consequently, she learned to simply run from problems with others where possible and not work through them. If friendships got dicey, she’d simply move on. She never dated anyone longer than three months. Her family moved a lot due to her dad’s employment which only made it easier to not have to be very committed.
That doesn’t work well in a marriage.
The first time I recognized this tendency in Gail was on the way to a pre-marriage counseling appointment. We had an argument and she started to get out of the car—while it was moving! I’d never seen this before. I came from a family that worked things out. For me, getting sideways with a family member wasn’t the end of the relationship—our commitment to each other meant we had to figure things out.
I was committed to the long haul with her and I knew she wanted that as well, even though her past made that tough. The good news is that tendency no longer rules her.
The Best Marriages Go The Distance
Commitment begins with “I do” but requires an ongoing “I still do.” It’s sticking it out for the long haul. It’s finishing strong, not just starting out in love. It’s keeping your vows, not just making them.
Every marriage begins with the honeymoon phase. But put any two people together under one roof for a length of time, and you’re going to disagree. That’s when your commitment has to kick in.
- Don’t use divorce as a threat. Divorce should never be a consideration unless abuse, abandonment, or adultery is the issue.
Call a truce. Arguments can drag on and on. You have to finish the fight. Someone has to get above the hurt just enough to say, “Can we call a truce for now?”
Learn to apologize and forgive. Some of the most important words for showing commitment and enjoying its benefits are, “I’m sorry,” and, “I forgive you.”
Ask for a do-over. It sounds so childlike but I love it. Before things escalate after you know you’ve said or done something offensive, quickly say, “I’m sorry. I was out of line. Could I have a do-over and try that again?” This can quickly diffuse a long, drawn out ordeal.
Commitment in marriage begins with “I do” but requires an ongoing “I still do.”
If you’re not moving forward, you’ll soon be moving backward. So,
- Keep dating.
Become an expert on your spouse. Understand them better than anyone.
Let your actions and habits keep saying, “I did. I do. I always will.”
Question: How have you and your spouse reinforced your commitment throughout your marriage? Share your answer in the comments below.