What does it mean to really commit to a marital relationship? Commitment is not a mental assent to a euphoric ideological image of marriage. Instead it is work, lots of it. Last week I indicated that there are at least three kinds of commitments in marriage. The first is a commitment to a happy marriage. The problem is that this type of commitment only lasts as long as the happiness. Secondly, there is a commitment to marriage itself. This kind of commitment occurs when couples just "rough it out" because "it is the Lord’s will." I call this blind commitment. Thirdly, there is a commitment to both marriage, happiness, and the spouse. This is healthy commitment. I call it total commitment.
Here are seven ways spouses take for granted the commitment in their marriages:
Vacations are times for couples or family closeness. It is a big mistake to seek fun during vacation times without your spouse. It is dangerous to marital health.
Long-term or permanent conflicting work schedules that divide the couple’s sleeping times together. The marriage bed is designed for two people to sleep in at the same time. It is a time for nurture and care, cuddling and romance. To regularly ignore sleeping together (because of work schedules) robs the marriage of a basic ingredient for marital happiness.
Living in different countries, or away from each other in a different part of the same country. It is not a marriage when husband and wife cannot live together in the same house or country and only come together once or twice a year to make love. This just sounds like legal prostitution. It is a recipe for marital discords and affairs.
Placing the relationship with your children above the relationship with your spouse. Nothing takes the place of your spouse in marriage–children, job, church, money, or relatives. When spouses are second in a relationship, commitment is thrown out of the window.
Living financially independent lives. Happy is the married couples whose all financial assets are monitored by both spouses. Too many couples enter into marital fights because their financial assets are not joined in a marital whole, and either spouse feel that the other in intruding into his or her personal life when questions about money comes up. They take each other’s love for granted. They believe that their intense love will squash the need for financial oneness. This is a big mistake.
Neglecting to affirm each other every day.
Constantly forgetting or ignoring special days.
It is foolish for a husband to say: "I don’t have to worry about my wife. She will never leave me." It is also foolish for a wife to say "My husband doesn’t mind me going out each night. He is a quite man who always likes to be home." These are only excuses to ignore what is profoundly more important to long-lasting marital happiness–physical closeness and togetherness.
Dear friends, stop taking for granted the love of your spouse for you. Remember, commitment is an action word, not just mental agreement. Keep your marriage on fire with total commitment–a commitment to happiness, each other, and the marriage vows. Act on it now.