Strengthening Marital Commitment

By Mitch Temple
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Focus on the Family
Marriage requires the same kind of thoughtful planning and deliberate investment that we give to our physical health and financial portfolios.

Marriage requires the same kind of thoughtful attention, planning and deliberate investment that we give to our physical health and financial portfolios.

Considering Your Level of Commitment

A good way to start taking inventory of your marriage, assessing its strengths and weaknesses, is to consider your level of commitment.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Has your marriage been on auto pilot for so long that neither you nor your spouse have a clue where you’re headed?
  • Where would you like to see your marriage go this year?
  • Are you committed to making positive changes
  • Do you expect your marriage to get better by doing the same things you did last year?
  • How committed are you to your marriage for the long haul?
  • How committed is your spouse to your marriage?

The Three Levels of Commitment

Commitment is something many claim to have, yet few seem to understand. It is a concept that has been used, abused and improperly modeled for so long that we’ve lost sight of what genuine devotion looks like.

Where marriage is concerned, commitment is the decision to continue in the relationship. Dr. Michael P. Johnson, Sociology Professor at Penn State University, views the decision to continue in a relationship as a function of three different experiences, or levels, of commitment — personal, moral and structural. These three types of commitment can be described as follows:

  1. Personal Commitment, a.k.a. “I Want To.” If you have a high level of personal commitment to your marriage, you may find yourself saying or thinking, “I want to continue in my marriage. I take pleasure in being married. I enjoy being committed to my spouse.”
  2. Moral Commitment, a.k.a. “I Ought To.” Those with a high level of moral commitment might say, “I believe staying in my marriage is the right thing to do. I’ll stick it out because of my values and beliefs. I made a commitment before God and I should keep my word.”
  3. Structural Commitment, a.k.a. “I Have To.” If you have a high level of structural commitment, the following statements may apply to you: “External constraints are keeping me in my marriage. I have to stay married. I can’t afford the negative consequences of divorce on my finances, my social relationships and the way others might perceive me. Divorce would also be detrimental for my children.”

Although one facet of commitment may sound “better” or more virtuous than another, our relationships benefit from having all three. The active presence of multiple facets, or layers, of commitment makes one’s marital resolve stronger than if only one facet were present. Consider the words of Ecclesiastes 4:12 in this light: “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (NKJV).

Strengthening Your Level of Commitment

Another important aspect of commitment is that it must be made, or re-made, on an ongoing basis. There’s more to it than just saying you’re committed to your marriage or simply “feeling good” about your relationship. Commitment must be played out in your actions. Instead of allowing yourself to drift away from your spouse, make a deliberate move toward closer relationship. Strengthen and nourish your marital commitment.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Pray. Seek God and His will for your life and your marriage. Spend time in honest reflection. Ask Him to show you how to be the spouse He wants you to be. Pray for strength and unity in your marriage.
  • Say it with actions. Let your behavior reflect your commitment. Make yourself available when your spouse wants to talk. Spend time alone with your spouse. Laugh together. Date each other. Plan for your future together. Build hedges where necessary to guard against external temptations and distractions.
  • Say it with words. Tell your spouse that you are committed to your marriage for the rest of your life. Let your kids know that you and your spouse are committed to each other through thick and thin.
  • Remind yourself of all the positive aspects of your relationship. What do you love about your spouse? How has being married blessed you? How has marriage made you grow? What are you thankful for? Ask God to bring these things to mind. Make a list if you have to and review it often.
  • Set goals. How would you like to see your marriage grow? What areas would you like to see improve? Map out a game plan to achieve those goals and work toward them. Seek outside help if necessary.
  • Get others involved. Surround yourselves with supportive individuals who share your values and want to see your marriage succeed. Form accountability partners. Seek out an older married couple to mentor you and your spouse.
  • Go public. Renew your wedding vows. Publicly express your continued commitment to your spouse. Invite friends and loved ones to pledge their support for your marriage.

If you’re struggling in the area of commitment or you’re unsure how to begin strengthening the level of commitment in your marriage, try the following:

Don’t just wish you or your spouse were more committed to your marriage; take action today to make it happen!

 

Copyright © 2003, Mitch Temple. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Mitch Temple

Mitch Temple (LMFT, M.S., M.S.) holds graduate degrees in counseling and marriage/family therapy from Amridge University. He served as a pulpit and counseling pastor, specializing in crisis, business and marriage- and family-related issues.  Mitch is the author or co-author of five books, including The Marriage Turnaround.  He is also published author in various professional journals.  Mitch and his wife Rhonda …

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.