I remember standing at the altar on my wedding day and pledging my lifelong commitment to my wife, Erin. But after saying my vows, I didn't give much thought to my marriage commitment. I was simply committed. What was there to think about? Since that time, however, I've come to realize that commitment is more than just a vow at a wedding.
Twenty-three years of marriage have taught me that commitment is a passionate decision to be with your spouse for a lifetime and to proactively build a future. I've learned there are three key aspects of commitment:
Commitment is a decision.
A husband and wife must decide to love each other for a lifetime. It's a decision to remove all other options that compete against their marriage. For example, Erin and I have removed the word divorce from our marriage vocabulary. Because divorce isn't an option for us, our commitment keeps us pressing forward — it motivates us to resolve problems and conflicts as they arise.
Commitment involves passion and emotion.
Hebrews 13:4 says, "Let marriage be held in honor among all." Honoring marriage means we recognize its immense worth. In the past, I never really thought about the value of my marriage. It wasn't like I avoided this thought — it just never occurred to me. So I made a list of what I love about my married life with Erin:
- Laughing together
- Raising our children together
- Celebrating life's successes
- Sharing deep levels of intimacy
- Serving together
When we recognize the treasure that is marriage, it has a great impact on our commitment because our hearts are fully invested in what we consider valuable.
Commitment requires action.
We need to take active steps to maintain a strong marriage. One powerful action couples can take to strengthen their marriage is to develop a shared dream. The dream that Erin and I share is to lead marriage seminars. When we're leading a seminar, Erin and I experience a type of connection that is difficult to put into words. God blesses our relationship when we're living out our shared dream.
Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Family Ministries at Focus on the Family.