We're in it for the Long Haul!

"We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence."

- Cornel West

When you got married, you likely uttered the words "until death do us part." Those are weighty words, and yet many of us tend to gloss over them.

If husbands and wives are to remain committed for the long haul, they need to remind themselves that marriage is a sacred mystery in the eyes of God. It is meant to be lifelong. It is meant to be permanent. God Himself demonstrates the meaning of lifelong marital commitment. He tells His bride, "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3), and "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

That doesn't mean we should expect marriage to be a smooth ride. Pain and disappointment will occur in marriage, just as they occur in every other aspect of life. But committed couples have made up their minds to see the ups and downs, the bright spots and shadows, as part of the grand adventure of marriage.

With this mindset - that of marriage being an adventure in which husbands and wives stick together through thick and thin - the words "until death do us part" take on a whole new meaning. Rather than suggesting a grim picture of two people shackled together, they instead evoke a beautiful image of two souls joined in pursuit of the same goals.

DATE NIGHT

Remember, always act like you're trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage we forget that we need to pursue and "woo" our spouse. So dress up a bit. Be polite and open doors. Complement one another. Be affectionate - hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Protect your Date Night from conflict by pausing arguments and agree to talk about the issue at a later time.

Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.

Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, you can choose somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine to stimulate conversation and your sense of adventure.

Step 2: Pick a date night activity that requires commitment.

Consider a few activities that require a genuine commitment on both of your parts to complete. Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, or even to bite off more than you can chew. Then, work together to complete the challenge. For example:

  • Go on a hike - a long hike. When one of you starts feeling tired, the other should offer words of encouragement and affirmation to help see the hike through to its completion. Don't place yourselves in any actual danger, of course, but select a physical activity that requires both commitment and teamwork to complete.
  • Try a game or activity that neither of you has tried before, such as bowling or Frisbee golf or ballroom dancing. Once again, the idea is to complete the activity by working on it together. Even if you're terrible at bowling, or your can't throw a Frisbee, or you have two left feet when it comes to dancing, stick with it until you've seen the activity through.

Step 3: Relax and unwind

Before going home, you might look for a quiet place for dessert or coffee to slow down and emotionally connect through good conversation. Answer the following questions. Be sure to keep your responses positive, uplifting and encouraging.

  • What was your favorite part of the evening?
  • What did you learn about me tonight that you didn’t know before?
  • What are some benefits that came from staying committed to this evening's activity and working together to complete it.

Step 4: The drive home can be meaningful, too.

As you drive home, spend time planning your next date. Also, think about additional ways you can express your lifelong commitment to one another in the coming week. Once you get home, however, it's up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!

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© 2012 Focus on the Family.