In our culture, it is not uncommon for people to scoff at the idea of marriage or think negatively about it. Many assume that marriage itself is unnecessary, constraining, archaic, and worthless. Due to these assumptions, it seems that as time goes on, more and more people are vehemently opposed to the idea of marriage. Even with the prevalence of such negative views on marriage, people still get married. They do so because there is still an idea out there that remains unforgotten from generations past. This is the idea that marriage is good and helpful. Even today, this idea motivates people to seek and find a mate. The importance, however, is not about how you come to be in a marriage relationship, it’s about how you stay in one.
We believe marriage to be the single most important and deepest relationship one can have with another person. And when both parties understand specific elements of the marriage relationship, the marriage has a much greater propensity to survive. Three simple elements that stand out about marriage include:
First, the permanence of the commitment. Marriage is meant to be permanent. Forever. There is no easy way out. Even with divorce rates being as high as they are, divorce is not an easy way out. Marriage is a relationship that supersedes all others in that it is supposed to go with you, through every life change you encounter. While other friendships wax and wane, the marriage relationship is meant to be steadfast and enduring.
Secondly, the exclusivity of the relationship. No other person has the same access or investment in your life as your spouse. The vows you took before God and others are a testimony to everyone that you are choosing to forsake all others. There is an exclusivity that marriage provides in being known and knowing another person. No one has as much knowledge of another person or sees as much vulnerability as will be made known in a marriage. Hiding from your own flaws, vulnerabilities, etc. can and will prevent your marriage from being the deepest relationship possible.
Thirdly, the promise of the vows. Marriage is essentially a promise to love your spouse, even when it’s not easy or you don’t feel like it. It’s a promise to stay committed even when you see the worst in your spouse. A promise to sacrifice for the good of another, everyday, for as long as you both shall live. This promise you have made is what has the power to carry you through the ups and downs of life, love and marriage.
So, even though your marriage will have it’s ups and downs, remember that marriage is permanent, your relationship is exclusive, and you have made a promise. These three combined create a relationship that truly is the deepest relationship you can have with another human being. If you’re feeling like you don’t have this deep-quality relationship with your spouse right now, ask yourself just a few short questions:
1) Do we both see our relationship as permanent? Not a bargaining, “You do what you want to do and I’ll do what I want to do,” kind of relationship…but a real genuine permanent connection?
2) Do we see our relationship as exclusive? Can your spouse give a look, wink, or other non-verbal cue that you and only you can understand?
3) Do we see our marriage as a promise? Do we truly put our marriage above our own personal interests, and do so for better or worse, in sickness and in health, when we have money and when we don’t?
What elements do you believe are essential for the commitment of marriage?