4 Challenges to Commitment (Fighting for Your Marriage Chapter 16)

If you see commitment as something you promised on your wedding day instead of an active, living part of your marriage, you will not succeed in married life.
What is an active, living commitment? Commitment is the personal devotion to develop and improve the relationship. Commitment produces security. And when we are secure we can relax. And when we relax, we can “experience the wonder, magic, and mystery of a great relationship.”
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Obviously commitment is at the center of a good marriage. But if we all know commitment matters, why is it that so many people lower their commitment level and fail to devote themselves to make marriage all that it can be?
Commitment suffers a variety of challenges throughout marriage. From the first day of marriage challenges will come. It is important to recognize those challenges and prepare to fight through them.
1. Commitment is challenged when it is not given and received.
How often have you expressed your commitment to your relationship? The Denver Researchers say, “The saddest thing we’ve seen in our work with couples is unexpressed dedication. In so many couples, one partner has withered on the vine because he or she can’t see much evidence that the other is really committed.”
Husbands and wives get caught up in the grind of day to day life and they quit doing the little things that reveal commitment to the marriage. And, sometimes the things that were once special become regular. We fail to appreciate just how much our spouses do for us.
Commitment means we fight through our tendency to let the little things go. Even the smallest things matter because each small thing is like a paragraph in a story. The paragraph itself might not be all that significant, but the story that unfolds becomes the story of your marriage.
2. Commitment is challenged when satisfaction decreases.
When couples can’t handle conflict, satisfaction decreases. As satisfaction decreases “both partners try less, both see their partner trying less, and soon their relationship is dying.”
Even during the tough times, it is important to maintain a high degree of dedication. While your dedication does not guarantee a great marriage, it will “keep you from doing immensely impulsive, stupid things when you are unhappy in the short run.”
If you are going through a tough time right now, I have some good news. The Denver Researchers say that the majority of couples will rediscover satisfaction in their marriage within five years. While this is not a guarantee, it is a reminder that tough times do pass and there is a light at the end of the darkest night.
3. Commitment is challenged by choices.
When we make a commitment to something we also reject other choices. The Researchers say, “Commitment involves making the choice to give up other choices.” Committing to a marriage means an overhaul in how we spend time, money, related to others, prioritize, and live. Commitment to marriage means we put no other earthly relationship above the relationship we have with our spouse.
The Bible says that a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife. Before marriage, the most important human relationship is the relationship to your parents. After marriage, the most important relationship you have is with your spouse.
In every aspect of life commit to making that one relationship the best relationship it can be.
4. Commitment is challenged by sacrifice.
It is all well and good to talk about committing to my wife in principle. As long as I don’t have to give up anything specific. I see many men and women who get married thinking they can pretty much live life as they had before they got married.
They don’t make a single sacrifice in the way they spend their time.
They don’t make a single sacrifice in how they spend their money.
They don’t make a single sacrifice in speech, attitude, or conduct.
And then they wonder why their marriage is in trouble.
So, let’s be clear. When you get married, you will have to make real sacrifices if you want a good marriage. You cannot continue to live as if you were single.

So, how can we keep commitment fresh and alive even when we are faced with the challenges listed above? The Denver Researchers say:
1. Sit down and talk about the state of your marriage.
Talk about what is working and what is not working.
2. Remember where you have been.
Talk about happy times in your marriage. Talk about the struggles and how you got through them. Talk about what first attracted you to each other.
3. Find areas you can work on together.
Since you are committed to stay together, seek ways in which you can work on things that might be decreasing the satisfaction of your marriage.
4. Return to the things you did at first.
Do something fun together. Talk more. Be more forgiving.
5. Focus on continuing to work.
Do not give up and say, ‘It’s not going to work.’

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