Today I want to take a look at what it means to be committed to your marriage. We established yesterday that a Godly marriage must be rooted in God’s Word, so what does God have to say about commitment?
“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Mark 10:7-9
We are living in a culture that promotes keeping our options open. We can’t decide on a major in college, we don’t want to commit to a career or denomination or political party. Creative types (like me!) want to dabble in everything, so we call ourselves “multi-passionate”, as if that means anything, other than that we are undecided wafflers!
I stumbled across an article I really liked, this morning. It fits quite well with this topic. Read it here: Stop Leaving Your Options Open.
It links to some studies on marriages where people live together prior to marriage. Data proves that couples are more likely to divorce if they live together first.
I believe that marriage is forever. No divorce. It really makes you aware of who you marry when you truly believe your vows. “Until death do us part” is not just in there to sound cool. It means something. Do they even vow that to each other, anymore?
If you aren’t yet married: be careful whom you marry. If you are married: decide from now on, you will not entertain thoughts of leaving your husband. Decide that you are in it for good. That your bridges are burnt and you are standing with your man, for better or worse. Even though he has problems, even though he may not be saved.
You know, sometimes I think we expect more from our husbands because they ARE saved. Because they profess to be Christian, godly men – we hold them to an impossibly high standard. If he was not saved – do you think you could stay with him, hoping to lead him to Christ? Do that now. Yes, he may have weak spots – so show him Christ. By your Christlikeness. Not by preaching.
But what about infidelity? Abuse?
Those are indeed issues. I do believe that there is an exception for adultery, as Scripture says in Matthew 19:9, Matthew 5:32. However, I can’t ignore the testimony of many couples where there was adultery, and yet they stayed together. With the grace of God and a forgiving spouse – even that situation can be redeemed.
If your husband is physically abusing you or your children, leave. No two ways about it. I am not saying divorce – perhaps by God’s grace your husband will repent and turn to God, and your family can be salvaged. This is a situation where you need counsel from trusted authorities, hopefully you have a pastor or other trusted Christian mentor who can guide you.
Mental/emotional abuse… I hate this one, because it gets sticky. (is it truly abuse, or just two very selfish people?) But again, get counsel. Get advice. Get help. Maybe you need to separate for a while, then be reconciled. I don’t know. But I do know that especially while you have kids at home, you should be careful – very, very careful – about divorcing.
See, I grew up in a home where my parents had difficulties in their marriage. I won’t go into detail out of respect for them. But it was rough. Many people in their situation would have parted ways many times! But not my parents. They believed divorce was wrong, so they made it work. You know what? I was scared more than anything that they would separate. As a child, I hated the stress of disagreements, but I still wanted us to be a family. There is something vitally important to a child about a family with both parents – even if it is just a good front.
Now, my parents are aging, as we all do. My mother has ALS (Lou Gehrigs disease) and watching dad care for her, I see a softness in him that makes me cry. Dad has had a few bad episodes with his health, and watching mom try to care for him is touching. What if they’d separated?? Is their marriage perfect? No, but who of us is perfect. They still have each other, 52 years later.
I guess what I am trying to say is; don’t be so quick to throw away a whole lifetime of loving, caring, living – just because you don’t like something about your spouse. Just because it is hard. I can say with some confidence, that you will have times when you don’t like each other. But keep loving. Love is a choice. Commitment is a choice. Most marriages do not have the ‘big 2’ of physical abuse or infidelity. Mostly, it’s just two sinners trying to live together and getting frustrated with each other.
You know what is to blame? Self. You want him to treat you in a certain way, or do a certain thing, and when he doesn’t – you get ticked off. You think you are more important than he is.
To have the best chance at long-term marriage happiness, you need to commit. To go all in. Don’t think about divorce – that’s off the table. Nope. Just settle in for the long haul.
Does that sound depressing? It doesn’t have to be!!
Come back tomorrow to read about what love actually is.
Today’s challenge: Tell your husband that you are committed to sticking with him. That even you may go through (or are in!) rough spots, even if you get frustrated at him – that you are not going to leave him. My husband and I got married with the strong conviction that divorce is wrong – but we still commit ourselves to each other occasionally. Just hearing my husband reassure me that he will never leave me, is somehow comforting. We have been married nearly 17 years, and we still like hearing each other say it. Don’t be afraid that it will sound weird. Just do it.