Over the last several posts, we’ve been working our way through a series on signs you’re in a healthy marriage. As we mentioned in previous entries, these points serve two main purposes: first, to help you see the good parts of your marriage you may be overlooking, and second, to serve as warnings that your relationship may be missing an essential component.
We’re rounding out the series with Part 5 today, so let’s get right into it!
Part 5 – Commitment
Over the course of this series, we’ve talked about a whole range of topics, but today’s is an overarching quality that all healthy marriages absolutely need to have. Simply put, commitment is what makes marriages last through thick and thin. No other relationship quality will help your marriage withstand the test of time.
Commitment is the promise you make to one another on your wedding day, and every day after, to be there for each other, to work together, to “make it work” no matter what ups and downs life might throw at you.
This kind of commitment is actually a larger ideal than your day to day happiness, or even your current level of feeling “in love” – in fact, it’s what comes into play when those other things aren’t going very well. If you have a stressful day, are feeling disconnected from your partner, just got done arguing about something – or any other scenario where it’s not necessarily easy to feel excited and involved in the marriage – this is when commitment is so important!
It’s sticking to your promise to stay by your spouse’s side that allows you to overcome momentary setbacks. It’s the mentality that says, “we can get through this together.” Instead of threatening divorce when things get bad or running away from problems, commitment to each other and the marriage drives people to address issues, resolve them, and carry on together – because they know they want the marriage to last, and they’re willing to do whatever’s necessary (even if it’s difficult) to make sure that happens.
Commitment is what allows couples to come back from affairs, to trudge through the often difficult process of counseling, to make financial sacrifices for each other, to do things they’re not thrilled about because it makes the other person happy… The list goes on and on, and it doesn’t only pertain to big problems or huge hurdles.
Commitment also comes into play when you’re just feeling “blah.” It’s doing the chores you said you would, simply so your spouse doesn’t have to. It’s making dinner when you’re tired because it’s “your turn” and you know your spouse had a long day… It’s thinking for the best interest of BOTH of you, not just yourself.
When this kind of commitment is missing in a marriage (or just not as strong as it should be), that’s when we start to see things like selfishness take over. When problems arise, uncommitted couples will fight tooth and nail to be “right” – instead of working to actually resolve the problem.
Similarly, a lack of commitment is present when people do intentionally hurtful things to their spouses – whether that’s telling lies, neglecting household responsibilities, or anything else in the spectrum of very minor to very severe.
Now, that’s not to say that committed couples don’t make mistakes or hurt each other’s feelings, or that commitment itself can’t be practiced and grown (like any other part of a marriage) – just that when a strong sense of commitment is absent, other problems are sure to follow.
If you’re experiencing a lot of problems in your relationship, could a general lack of commitment between the two of you be to blame? Take an honest look at how you treat each other on a daily basis, even when you aren’t in the middle of some kind of conflict. Does it seem like the marriage comes first? Are you making decisions with your spouse in mind? Are they doing the same for you?
If not, it’s time to have an important discussion about where the marriage is on each of your priority lists, and the problems you could resolve simply by putting commitment to each other at the top!
This concludes our five part series on signs you’re in a good marriage. If you’ve got the things we’ve mentioned going for you – great! Embrace them. Take pride in the relationship you have and do everything you can to maintain these positive qualities.
If any of these things are missing from your marriage, don’t fret! Every last one of these things can be improved with time, patience, and some effort in the right direction. Talk to your spouse about these things – not to accuse them, but to ask them for help in building up these strong marriage qualities. Work together, and you can make your marriage the best it’s ever been!
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com