What kind of commitment keeps a marriage together forever? How can today's marriages defy the odds?
Many a movie has presented the scene; the man gets on his knee, and asks "Will you marry me?" Often when a man decides to propose marriage, great care is given to the proposal. Sometimes it happens in a special place (restaurant; romantic view, or at a special time (holiday; anniversary of some special event). When he finally says those words, "Will you marry me?" he intends for the marriage to be for a lifetime. He would never ask, “Will you marry me for a few years?”
Most enter into marriage with the intent that it will last for life. He doesn't start out by planning to be divorced in just a few years. Instead he hopes his marriage will be the exception to today's statistics of divorce and broken homes. But as much as both husband and wife would like assurance of a marriage that lasts, there's no guarantee.
In reality beyond taxes and death there are no real 100% guarantees in this life. But there are some principles that, when applied, can make sure your marriage is moving in the direction of long-term, unbreakable commitment, which is as close to a guarantee as you can get.
1. Understand marriage is hard work. One of the best things we can do for our marriage is to have the mindset that it will usually be hard work. There will always be times of disagreement and hurt feelings, even in good marriages.
Why? Because marriage is taking two individuals who have lived their entire lives only for themselves and putting them in a relationship whose success requires them to put the other person first. It's not easy and mistakes are going to be made.
The rewards are worth it all, but make no mistake about it, it requires an investment of a lot of hard work. Yes, there are those times of special intimacy, and be thankful for each one, but also accept and appreciate that a successful marriage requires continual sacrifice and hard work.
2. It takes time. Everything in a marriage does not have to be resolved in the first month or even the first year. Some things will be important to resolve early on, but other issues and complications will continue to be worked out throughout your marriage. That's okay, you have a lifetime together. You don't have to rush. And the reality is that some things that seem important at twenty-five years of age, will mean far less at fifty years of age. So how do you know what will be the more important things? Live life together.
As you live life, you'll learn more of what's really important to you and your spouse. But in addition to that, marriage can be compared to fruit on a vine or tree. Only time can make it the sweet fruit we enjoy and sometimes it just hasn't had enough time to be its best. A nurtured marriage will get better with time and it's never too late to start doing the things that need to be done to ripen your relationship.
3. Honesty is the wisest path. Sometimes you can keep short-term peace by lying. I'm not denying that, but if your marriage is built on lies in order to keep from arguing, you'll most likely end up divorcing.
Lies compound with time and become harder to maintain. Plus, they destroy emotional intimacy. That's one of the reasons that affairs destroy a marriage. Sure, the physical or emotional unfaithfulness is traumatic, but the lies that have to be told in order to hide the affair are often the beginning of the end because the lies finish off whatever intimacy is left. And before the husband or wife knows it, they think they're "in love" with the lover because they feel more closely intimate to that person.
So, begin with a commitment to being honest with one another. I didn't say be rude or for you to volunteer hurtful information to your spouse. You don't have to be brutal, but be lovingly honest. Honesty demonstrates in a practical manner how much trust there is in the relationship.
4. You are married to the in-laws. You may think you only spoke vows to one person, therefore the other family members are incidental guests at the wedding. Wrong! The three families (wife's, husband's, and the new one) will be intertwined as long as you live. So be smart. Don't say stupid things that will come back to bite you. Be kind to every family member.
Sometimes some families have been so dysfunctional for so long, it is a real challenge to bring health to them. But work hard to have a good relationship with your spouse's family and you'll likely strengthen your marriage. Being kind and respectful to your in-laws is often warmly appreciated by your spouse because of the love he/she has for them and prevents, or heals, years of resentment. What you invest in building relationships with your in-laws will pay great dividends over the years.
5. Commit to stay. While there is no guarantee in marriage, it is safe to say that most marriages will survive if both the man & woman will commit to stay with each other. As simple as it sounds, this is one of most basic, foundational principles of marriages that last. They are committed to stay with each other. So commit to work out problems. Commit to seek the best for the other. Commit to grow in love.
The five principles listed above will help restore a marriage and provide a foundation for a new one.
Provide the best family environment for yourself, your children and your spouse by committing to your marriage in the good times and in the bad. It's not too late.