|My wife and I at our wedding in |
1992. We were officers in
The Salvation Army at the time
and wore our uniforms
at our wedding.
That's saying something these days when 1 in 4 marriages ends in divorce.
What is the secret of our longevity? Are we deeply in love? Yes, but I believe it is important to understand the word "deeply" in that statement more than it is to understand the word "love". You see, I believe it is the commitment we made to each other, then, now and always, that not only causes our marriage to survive, but thrive. The emotional feeling of infatuation is icing on the wedding cake.
Love is the answer?
When you think of love for your fiance or spouse, do you think about the warm fuzzy feelings that come over you, or do you think about a deep, lasting commitment that respects your partner and your relationship to them no matter how you feel towards them at any given moment?
Those who believe their marriage has come to the point of no return probably assess their relationship with their partner as having more moments of disappointment than moments of joy and happiness, and their lack of commitment to the relationship becomes their undoing. Looking out for #1 means doing what is right for #1. If #1 is not the relationship, then the relationship suffers.
In contrast, those who believe in their marriage and work towards solutions to resolve problems and improve their commitment to one another see success and happiness in the long term and the short term. Couples who are willing to make sacrifices for each other are more effective in solving the problems that occur in their marriage and live happier lives.
Ben Karney, a professor of psychology and co-director of the Relationship Institute at UCLA says "It means do what it takes to make a relationship successful... In a long term relationship, both parties cannot always get their way." Only the commitment to the relationship and a willingness to compromise with one another can see you through.
Considering the things that will make the commitment difficult prepares you to face those challenges when they come. What will you do when your in-laws come between you? Who will look after the children when they come? What does it mean to grow old together? Are you truly prepared to look after each other in sickness and in health?
Love helps us enjoy the best moments of our married lives, but life brings so many twists and turns and unexpected problems. Only commitment can see us through those challenges. That commitment and the success it brings can even strengthen your relationship.
To quote from "TwoOfUs" a project of the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, "Commitment is the part of the relationship that provides safety and security, so couples can express their thoughts, feelings, and desires openly. When they’re committed, they have the confidence that they’ll make it through the day-to-day challenges and life’s stressors that can tear a marriage apart. Commitment offers couples a sense of being part of a team, a desire for a future together and a desire to sacrifice for each other. An individual’s commitment to the marriage makes it a priority. It is vital that... you... understand how [your] decisions about commitment play a role in [your] future success... Not being committed carries great consequences, the greatest of which is relationship failure and the possible dissolution of a family."
Sounds like work!
All of that sounds like work... and admittedly, it sometimes is. As Theodore Roosevelt said "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty...", or George Bernard Shaw "Nothing is worth doing unless the consequences may be serious."
For most of us, there is nothing more serious than the relationship we will have with our spouse (except our relationship with God), nothing that will bring us more joy, or more meaning. There is also nothing more important to invest ourselves in - nothing more important to put the work into.
That's not meant to scare you out of marriage - it's meant to encourage you to take it seriously. It is worth the effort. It is worth the commitment. After 21 years, I can tell you, it is so worth it!
* This image was found on floating around tumbler without credit attached. If you know who's image it is, please let me know so that I can provide proper credit.
(c) 2013 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography