Marriage is a 50-50 commitment, right?
Wrong. Very wrong!
If you’re only meeting your spouse halfway, you’re not going far enough. You need to be committed 100%. Marriage is a 100-100 commitment. It is your responsibility and obligation to be fully committed to your spouse and your marriage, even if it seems your spouse is falling short of their share of the effort. Chances are, if they’re falling short, something is wrong and you need to step in the gap and make up the difference.
Our natural tendency when a spouse backs away or falls short of expectations is to do likewise. It’s counterintuitive to want to step up when you feel like you’re being let down. It’s even harder to sacrifice your wants and desires in order to help fulfill your spouse’s needs. Sometimes that just has to happen.
Think back to the time when you were dating. Remember what it felt like when you were willing to climb mountains, swim oceans, slay dragons, and fight armies to win the heart of the one you loved? Why then would a baby crying in the middle of the night, piles of laundry, a sink full of dirty dishes, or an overgrown lawn make you any less a romantic warrior?
We all change as life goes on. Our interests and hobbies shift. The work-life balance is usually out of whack. Children and other family matters throw our best-laid plans – and sometimes our greatest hopes and dreams – completely out the window.
Life happens and it’s hard and it hurts sometimes. It’s in those moments that you need to rise up above yourself and take a hard look at what’s going on with your mate. Chances are they’re struggling too, and they may need your help more than you need theirs. At the very least you should be looking at things that way, even if you have the greater need.
If we all learned to put the needs of our spouse before our own needs, just imagine what a better world this would be. Think of what that would do to the divorce rate. Think of how that would impact our children and generations to come.
When it comes to the divorce rate, I think one of the best things our legal system can do is get rid of the no-fault divorce. Seriously, marriages are more than an agreement, arrangement, or even a contract. When you stand at the altar, you make a wedding vow. That is the deepest commitment one can make. It’s a bond for life, for better or for worse. When a marriage ends, there has to be a good reason. There is fault.
Our courts need to be working to save marriages and honoring those vows – those legal, binding contracts. The vow-breakers need to be held accountable for their actions. They need to face hard consequences. If a spouse cheats, becomes abusive, or behaves in a way that is harmful or threatening to the welfare of their mate or the family, they shouldn’t have an easy out.
We should go back to the days when the spouse at fault stood to lose nearly everything, including primary custody of any children. We need to make the consequences of infidelity painful.
If a couple just “grows apart” they should be helped to reinvest in their marriage, not dissolve it. Accountability is a character trait that is being lost in society today and the no-fault divorce is a huge symptom of that. Couples in these cases should be encouraged to have marriage counseling. There should be more programs in place that support marriages.
Our legal system is rife with easy outs. There is no enforcement of the wedding contract. The legal system, as it works today, is destructive to marriage, not supportive or restorative. I believe that has a lot to do with the money lawyers make feeding off divorces.
In the end, the ones that lose the most are the children. They are the true victims of divorce. Purportedly our laws are designed to do what’s in the best interest of the children. The best thing for children is to grow up in the security of a committed and loving home with their mother and father. Anything less is not in their best interest.
I am not so naïve as to think that every marriage is perfect. I know there are many valid reasons why marriages end. There are many more marriages, however, that end needlessly or without a fight to save them. Those are the ones that we must strive to support, especially when there are children involved.
It all begins with a pre-marital understanding that marriage is for life and the needs of your spouse and your family are greater than your own needs. Marriage is no place for selfishness. Selflessness, commitment, and sacrifice are the touchstones of any good relationship and should be at the foundation of every marriage. The very best relationships and marriages, however, are those with Christ at their center. As it says in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
I can attest to that. I also have the benefit of a loving wife who has had to go well above her 100 percent on many occasions as I’ve battled various health problems. I know in those times she has leaned heavily on her faith in God and that has gone both ways. If we came into our marriage as a 50-50 proposition, we never would have made it this far. I praise God every day for my wife and his support and provision for our family. That’s something we all should do.