Aug 112015 2 Responses

Commitment: A Healthy Marriage Starts Here

In Kate McCord’s (protective pseudonym) book In the Land of Blue Burqas, she describes her experience living in Afghanistan and interacting with Afghani women. The book is fascinating on several fronts, but especially in the area of marriage.

According to McCord, marriage is much different in Afghanistan than in the West. Afghani girls get married much younger and for many different reasons than American girls. But it is one topic which Afghani women openly discussed with McCord which surprised me—their universal disdain for multiple wives.

More than any other factor, the introduction of multiple wives decimated marital satisfaction for Afghani women.

Notice it wasn’t:

Arranged marriages. It’s hard to imagine to a Western mind that an arranged marriage could result in true love, but statistics commonly show arranged marriages can be just as satisfying as marriages chosen by the individuals.

A male-dominated society. In many middle-eastern societies, women have little value. They are often viewed as less valuable than animals.

Demanding expectations. Afghani women face tremendous amounts of physical labor. They are expected to work non-stop even as their husbands enjoy leisure.

While Afghani women may prefer to marry for love and would clearly desire more value and an equal workload in life, these issues are secondary compared to the damage created when another person is introduced to the marriage.

This speaks to the power of commitment regarding marital satisfaction.

While other things matter–equality between the spouses, true friendship, dealing with conflict–they are secondary in comparison to the genuine feelings of commitment between a husband and wife.

As long as a couple is truly committed to one another, trust is present. Trust empowers a couple. It deepens their friendship, maximizes their partnership, and creates the proper climate for intimacy to grow. Where trust is absent, the marriage is dying. (See: Trust Is Everything in Marriage)

Commitment is the foundation upon which a healthy marriage is established. It must be protected and continually reinforced for a marriage to succeed.

Make It and Never Break It

The most useful strategy regarding marriage is to establish commitment early in the relationship and never do anything to create doubt. Consistently prove your commitment by:

  • always being your spouse’s cheerleader
  • setting strong boundaries regarding other people
  • never implying the possibility of divorce
  • being trustworthy
  • matching words and actions
  • putting your marriage above your own desires
  • being faithful both physically and emotionally

Not only does this create the strongest marriage, it is also the easiest course of action. Any action which erodes commitment causes undue stress and deeply strains the marriage. The relationship is greatly hindered until commitment is re-established. (See: It’s Easier to Stay Out of Trouble Than Get Out of Trouble)

But If You Break It, Re-make It

While it is far easier to never break trust, the good news is that trust can be rebuilt if it is broken.

Commitment is broken in a variety of ways:

  • An affair–either physical or emotional
  • Lying
  • Placing other people or things before your spouse
  • Threatening divorce
  • Being physically or emotionally absent at important times
  • Selfishness
  • Addiction

When any of these occur, they greatly damage the relationship. However, they can be overcome. In nearly every situation, commitment can only be re-established with the help of a third party. A counselor is needed to assist the couple through the healing process. (See: 5 Keys to Save Your Marriage)

By exploring the underlying causes of the distrustful actions and establishing a plan for recreating trust, over time a couple can re-establish their bond.

Remaking trust is difficult and wearisome, but it can be done and is worth every bit of effort which a couple gives to the process.

A Healthy Marriage Starts Here

Many things go into making marriage work, but everything is secondary compared to commitment. Until two people truly commit to each other, all other work will be hindered.

Consider:

  • Are you committed to your spouse?
  • Do you want what is in their best interest without any hesitation?
  • Is there any wavering in your commitment toward him/her?
  • Do you knowingly take any action which causes them doubt?
  • Does your spouse feel secure in your commitment toward them?
  • By your actions, are others confident of your commitment to your spouse?

On a good number of Saturdays, I stand before a couple and listen to them say “I do” to a series of questions I ask regarding their commitment to their bride/groom. They then repeat a set of promises to one another regarding what actions they will take from that day forward. The intent of the ceremony is to publicly commit to one another. (See: A Healthy Marriage Makes Your Smarter)

Commitment is not a byproduct of a good relationship; it is the prerequisite.

A husband and wife fully committed to one another…that is where a healthy marriage begins.

 

2 Responses to Commitment: A Healthy Marriage Starts Here
  1. dennyneff Reply

    You have hit the proverbial nail on the head Kevin. My wife and I have been married 45 years next month. During that time neither of us has ever entertained the notion that divorce was even something to be discussed much less considered. On our wedding day, we made a promise to God, each other and to our families that we were a couple until we die. I don’t think a marriage can survive if in the beginning, divorce is even talked about as a possibility, even as a last ditch option. I understand to notion of a Prenuptial Agreement, I understand how lawyers and Board of Directors might want their interests protected in a purely business decision. But for a couple of adults contemplating marriage to sign prenups, for me personally is setting up that marriage to fail because failure is already being planned for. Making that commitment to one another in the very beginning is imperative. This of course is just my opinion and we know what they say about opinions…

  2. […] The trouble with commitment is that it demands we stay in the relationship when things aren’t ... kevinathompson.com/truth-and-commitment

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