Two questions I’ve asked in this series on commitment in marriage: Why do married couples stay together and how can we grow our commitment in marriage?
In Part 1 of this series on commitment, I talked about two different types of commitment. Constraint commitment centers around couples feeling stuck together because the cost of ending the relationship becomes too high. There’s nothing wrong with constraint commitment, but in and of itself, it’s not enough for most couples.
Rather, couples must look for ways to joyfully stick together. When couples have dedication commitment they look for ways to strengthen their relationship for the mutual benefit of both spouses. They seek ways to strengthen or grow their marriage and willingly sacrifice for their spouse.
In Part 2, I shared three ways couples can strengthen their commitment (and their dedication). I talked about making their marriage a priority, protecting their marriage from outside attacks, and keeping a list of rights and not wrongs. In Part 3 (this post), I share four more ways couples can increase their commitment and strengthen their marriage.
4. Think About “We” Not “Me”
When Duncan, one of our twins, was in ninth grade, his high school basketball team’s motto was “We Not Me.” The motto makes perfect sense for a team—the team must be greater than the sum of its parts. No basketball team is complete without five players who each play a role. A great team has someone who can pass and dribble, one who can shoot, and one who can rebound. There must be a coach who can call the shots and lead the team. The best teams think about the collective “we” and not individual stat lines.
The same principle applies in marriage. Every healthy marriage is stronger than its individual parts. While the husband and wife are both complete and whole in Christ, the sum of their parts is greater.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Solomon writes, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Practically we avoid the “D” word in our marriage. We don’t threaten each other with divorce and don’t joke about it. We seek to build safety and security in our marriage. Like a basketball team with different parts/roles, we seek to appreciate each other’s gifts and strengths and seek to live with each other in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7).
Question: Where is your marriage marked by “me” and not “we”?
5. Praying Without Ceasing
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul says that we are to “Pray continually.” A marriage marked by constant prayer for your marriage and for your spouse will grow. It doesn’t necessarily mean your marriage will be absent of challenges, but your marriage will be strong if both husband and wife commit to praying for and with each other.
Sometimes we don’t know how to pray or what to pray for in our marriage. A few years ago I wrote a prayer guide called How You Can Pray for Your Marriage in 2018. While the post is three years old, the content is just as relevant today as a few years back.
There’s just something about praying with and for your spouse that increases the commitment in your marriage. When you pray for your spouse it’s harder to get frustrated with them and your commitment to your spouse and marriage increases.
Question: Do you and your spouse pray with and for each other on a consistent basis? What would it look like for you and your spouse to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)?
6. Don’t Grow Weary in Doing Good
I know many of you are trying so hard to grow and strengthen your marriage. It feels like you’re the only one putting in any effort. I want to remind you of Paul’s words in Galatians 6:9. Paul writes, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Do not give up. The Lord sees and knows all you’re doing:
- The times you serve without receiving a “thank you.”
- The late nights and early mornings.
- He sees all those diapers you’re changing, dishes you’re washing, and errands you’re running.
- God sees and He knows.
Fortunately for you and me, Jesus did not give up in His pursuit of us. He did not grow weary and He finished the race set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).
You can’t control your spouse and what they do, but you are responsible for your own efforts. Do not grow weary in doing good.
Question: What do you do when you begin to grow weary?
7. Create Memories Together
The family that plays together, stays together. It’s cliché, but so true. Make some memories together. We used to make lots of memories when we were dating and younger, but when we get married, we get busy, boring, and the schedule is full. We quit making memories together and life becomes a drag.
I’ve seen this play out in our marriage and in countless other marriages. It’s never or very rarely intentional, but a slow fade into boredom. And when we’re bored, we often look for fun outside our marriage. Boredom is one of the top factors in couples who experience infidelity.
To grow your commitment and strengthen your marriage, have fun together and enjoy your spouse (Ecclesiastes 9:9). We’re not the most fun couple on the planet, but we intentionally work hard to date each other, make fun memories as a couple and family, and romantically pursue each other in and out of the bedroom.
Question: What can you do to make a memory together this month? As a challenge, take turns planning something fun and creating some memories as a couple.
There’s Too Much Poop to Divide Up
I’ll end this series on commitment with a story from my friend Susan. Susan and her husband were out on a date night and ran into a large family celebrating a big event. Susan is not shy, so she turned to the matriarch of the family and asked her the purpose of their celebration. The woman shared that she and her husband were celebrating their 40th anniversary with their kids and grandkids.
Susan, highly encouraged by a couple celebrating 40 years of marriage, asked the couple for the key to a long-lasting marriage.
The wife said the main reason they stayed together was because there was too much “sh&t” to split up and it was just easier to stay together.
Susan shared about this couple with me, and we found it so sad that this was her response when asked about how to make it 40 years. She and her husband were “stuck together” because of all their stuff.
Lord, may it not be. May Kristen and I, Susan and her husband, and every other couple reading this post not just stay together because there’s too much stuff to split up. Help us to grow in our love for You and our love for our spouse. Help us, Lord, joyfully stick together, and not just be stuck together.
I hope this three-part series on commitment has helped you and your spouse (or future spouse for those in the single, dating, or engaged categories). Yes, I know there are more than seven ways to grow your commitment to each other, but hopefully this is a strong start to help you grow. I want you to joyfully thrive in your relationship.
What would you add to the list? What do you do to help you grow your commitment to your spouse and strengthen your marriage?
Check out the book A Lasting Promise by Dr. Scott Stanley if you’d like to learn more about commitment in marriage.